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The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Israel has provoked some reactions that are out of tune with the decorum of the occasion. It is easy to remember old slights, and harder to remember who we are today and who and what we represent.

My thoughts below have nothing to do with any religious views of the author, or any views of Pope Benedict as a person. They relate to Zionism, to the abilities of our people to transcend pettiness and live up to the demands of sovereignty, and to fulfill with honor and grace the sovereign duties of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, who are currently the secular guardians of many of the holy places of the Christian faith.

The Holy Father comes to Israel not as a private person, but as the leader and representative of over one billion Catholics, the largest Christian denomination in the world. As representatives of the sovereign power that is guardian of the Christian holy places in the land of Israel, the Israel government and the people of the State of Israel, Christians, Jews and Arabs, must be proud to serve as gracious hosts for the Pope, regardless of any objections that they may have to particular policies of the church, the pope, or his personal history, and must welcome him with open arms in the name of peace and interfaith understanding.

We should be encouraged by the message of peace brought by the Holy Father, as well as by his repeated condemnations of Anti-Semitism. It is, frankly, awkward and embarrassing that some small minded people may not have understood the significance and delicacy of the relations between Israel and the Vatican, and have chosen this occasion to air various grievances, sometimes in ugly and unseemly ways. This is a festive occasion and a triumph and honor for the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The cause of justice and the cause of the Jewish people will not be served by spilling the wine at the banquet.

Individual Catholics may also have differences of opinion with the Pope and with dogmas and policies of the Church, but they honor and respect the office that he represents. The entire Catholic world is watching to see how the representatives of our government, our people, and our press comport themselves during this visit. All of us who are concerned for the honor, the glory and unity of Jerusalem and the welfare of the Jewish state, must understand that the government and people of Israel must extend the warmest hand of welcome and must execute their duties as hosts in the holy places of the Christian religion.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2009. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000691.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 2 Comments

A well balanced article. The behaviour of many people here towards the pope and their expectations of what he should have said and left unsaid is pettiness and unreasonableness at its most.

All the negative reactions, many coming from the religious lunatic fringe of society here is shameful and is no credit to Israel.

Shimon Z. Klein, Saturday, May 16th

I fully agree with these sentiments. One does not insult or injure a messenger of peace-- it is not fitting. One must always take the high road in the face of earnest efforts at engagement. We, who so earnestly wish for peace for Israel, must show that we are worthy of its blessing. In war, we must be superior; in peace, we must be superior. Ami is totally correct.


Bob Pave, Monday, May 11th

Constructive comments, including corrections, are welcome. Do not use this space for spam, publishing articles, self promotion, racism, anti-Zionist propaganda or character defamation. Inappropriate comments will be deleted. See our Comment policy for details. By posting here, you agree to the Comment policy.


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