Lots of events happened during the past week. Israel celebrated “Lag B’Omer (the 33rd day after the Passover, which marks the death of the second-century Kabbalist, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai); Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team won the Euroleague championship, beating Spain’s Real Madrid in overtime; a Bill was introduced in the Knesset that would allow Jews to pray at the Temple Mount; controversy raged over a video purporting to show two “Palestinian” youths killed by the IDF, as the latter says that the video was edited to distort the events – this, of course, prompted the U.S. to urge a “probe” into the shootings; former President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, was sentenced to three years in jail for embezzlement; radical Islamists (I.S.I. – Islamic State of Iraq) in Syria destroyed a 3,000 year-old Assyrian statue as part of their efforts of cultural genocide; Netanyahu was prepared to fire Tzippi Livni for meeting with Mahmoud Abbas behind his back and against his wishes, but backed down when he realised that such a move could endanger his fragile coalition government; Israel came up with a discovery that could potentially reverse damage to brain cells caused by Alzheimer’s Disease. Anti-semitism continued to rear its ugly head, this time in a deadly shooting incident in Brussels. But, the focus of attention of most of the media was on the upcoming visit of Pope Francis, first to Jordan and then to Israel. The first part of his visit to Israel will be the focus of this post.
Pope Francis politicises his non-political visit to Israel
It was only last Wednesday when Pope Francis addressed about 50,000 pilgrims at a general audience in St. Peter’s Square, that his trip to the region would be “will be a purely religious trip”. There is no escaping the conclusion that in light of the Pope’s statements during his first day in Israel, that is, in ALL of Israel, somewhere during the last four days, “purely religious” ended up becoming “primarily political”.
It may not be “politically correct” to say something that is not praiseworthy about the Pope. Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean that what may not be praiseworthy is not true. Pope Francis is not the first Pope to visit Israel. But, he is the first Pope to visit “Palestinian”-ruled territory, without first entering Israeli, non-“Palestinian” territory. After his initial stop in Jordan, he flew from there to Bethlehem, where he was greeted by “Palestinian” Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, and joined him for an official ceremony. While on his way to Manger Square, which is believed to be the site where the Lord Yeshua was born, his popemobile made an “unscheduled” stop at the security barrier that was constructed by Israel in an effort to stop the spate of suicide bombers, who expedited their journeys to what they believed would be Paradise. While most of the barrier is fence, in this particular area it is a wall and while Francis was there, he bowed his head in prayer. Shortly thereafter, while standing next to Abbas, the Pope stated: “I wish to state my heartfelt conviction that the time has come to put an end to this situation which has become increasingly unacceptable”, adding: “The time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good, the courage to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgement by all of the right of two states to exist and to live in peace and security within international recognise borders.” One could easily dismiss this pontification as simply a repetition of the view long held by the Vatican that the conflict can only be resolved by implementing the “two states for two peoples” platform. However, it is an un-Biblical intrusion into the realm of international politics over which he is not the appointed vicar. His comment about finding the “courage to be generous and creative in the service of the common good” could hardly refer to the “Palestinians”, whose leaders are generous only to themselves and who try to be creative in the ways in which they accuse, undermine, belittle and attack Israel, while keeping the “refugee” issue alive and well, even within the confines of their own autonomous territory.
No doubt that some experienced “papaltations” upon seeing and hearing the Pope. Officials of the “Palestinian” Authority and at least one official of the “Palestine” Liberation Organization (“PLO”) were quick to express their “understanding” that Pope Francis’ visit directly to Bethlehem, without first landing at Tel-Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, as well as his going to Jerusalem after his visit to Bethlehem, was a tacit recognition by him of the existence of a “Palestinian” state. They understood what many in the Israeli left and MSM also fail to understand, namely: that politics rules decisions, including decisions in and from the Vatican. The broader the sphere of influence, the greater the pressure that can be exerted.
Indeed, if words have any meaning at all, then it would be difficult to avoid the clear intention of the Pope, as he referred to Abbas as “a man of peace and a peacemaker”, as well as “Palestine” and the “state of Palestine” with these words: “Mr President, you are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker. Our recent meeting in the Vatican and my presence today in Palestine attest to the good relations existing between the Holy See and the State of Palestine. I trust that these relations can further develop for the good of all. In this regard, I express my appreciation for the efforts being made to draft an agreement between the parties regarding various aspects of the life of the Catholic community in this country, with particular attention to religious freedom. Respect for this fundamental human right is, in fact, one of the essential conditions for peace, fraternity and harmony. It tells the world that it is possible and necessary to build harmony and understanding between different cultures and religions. It also testifies to the fact that, since the important things we share are so many, it is possible to find a means of serene, ordered and peaceful coexistence, accepting our differences and rejoicing that, as children of the one God, we are all brothers and sisters.”
One can only wonder whether, when he made his speech, the Pope was in touch with the realities on the ground, which include, among other things, the steady exodus of the Christian community from Bethlehem and the territory under the control of the “Palestinian” Authority, the persecution of the Christian community there and the blatant denial of religious freedom in the region where Abbas serves as President.
And then, in a blatant spirit of ecumenism, the Pope invited the Presidents of the “Palestinian” Authority and of Israel to the Vatican for a prayer summit: “In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace. I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer.” Of course, both men readily accepted the invitation. Refusal of such an invitation would have constituted a public insult to the Pope. It would be interesting to know how such “togetherness in prayer” will be accomplished. Who will they be praying to? Will the prayer(s) be in Latin, Arabic and Hebrew, or maybe English? Will they understand each other well enough to be able to say “Amen”? Or maybe it will be just another get together to push the same political agenda shared by all three of them regarding the establishment of a “Palestinian” state in the heart of the land that God has entrusted to Israel. The views of Shimon Peres and his encouragement of Papal intervention in the Middle East has been mentioned before (President Shimon Peres urges the new Pope to come to Israel – TWTW, 18 May, 2013) and will most certainly be discussed again here.
Well, day one of the Pope’s visit to Israel, in Bethlehem, came to an end and he continued on his journey and finally arrived in Tel Aviv late Sunday afternoon. There, he again urged Israeli leaders to adopt the “two-state solution’ to the Israeli-“Palestinian” conflict. He repeated the call of Pope Benedict XVI, which called for the “universal recognition [of] the right of the State of Israel to exist and flourish in peace and security within internationally recognised borders”, but added: “At the same time, there must also be a recognition of the right of the “Palestinian” people to a sovereign homeland and their right to live with dignity and with freedom of movement. The ‘Two State Solution’ must become reality and not remain merely a dream.” Well, so much for a “purely religious trip”.
But, his statement really needs a little closer scrutiny. Israel already has “internationally recognised borders”. What the “Palestinians” and those who align themselves with them are trying to do is to cut away pieces of the land and change the borders, in order to create a state for a previously non-existent people group. Ignoring the facts of history allows for the distortion of them and when such distortions are repeated year after year, decade after decade, the truth becomes questionable whereas the lie becomes acceptable.
Some may think these words harsh or unfair, particularly since it was only the first day of the Pope’s two-day visit to Israel and that his first day needed to be balanced with what he did on the second day. Well, the second day will be reported on in the next post.
As I close this post, I refer you to the Op-Ed: For Shame, Pope Francis, written by Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, which can be viewed here.
There are many more articles along the same line, but those will be for another time.
And THAT was the week that was and a couple of extra days to finish the Pope’s visit.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
“Arise, shine ; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…”
May the rest of your week be joyful, with good health.
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.
Have a simply great week.