Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman were right when they blamed the noxious anti-Israel incitement rampant in Europe for Saturday’s murderous shooting attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels and the assault and battery of two Jewish brothers outside their synagogue in a Paris suburb later that day.
Anti-Israel incitement is ubiquitous in Europe and is appearing in ever-widening circles of the Western world as a whole.
Until this week, the Catholic Church stayed out of the campaign to dehumanize Jews and malign the Jewish state.
Pope Benedict XVI was perceived as a friend of Israel, despite his childhood membership in the Hitler Youth. His opposition to Islam’s rejection of reason, eloquently expressed at his speech at the University of Regensburg in 2006, positioned him as a religious champion of reason, individual responsibility and law – Judaism’s primary contributions to humanity.
His predecessor Pope John Paul II was less willing to confront Islamic violence. But his opposition to Communism made him respect Israel as freedom’s outpost in the Middle East. John Paul’s visit to Israel in 2000 was in some ways an historic gesture of friendship to the Jewish people of Israel.
Both Benedict and John Paul II were outspoken champions of the Second Vatican Council and maintained doctrinal allegiance to the Church’s rejection of anti-Judaism, including the charge of deicide, and its denunciation of replacement theology.
Alas, the Golden Age of Catholic-Jewish relations seems to have come to an end during Francis’s visit to the Promised Land this week.
In one of his blander pronouncements during the papal visit, Netanyahu mentioned on Monday that Jesus spoke Hebrew. There was nothing incorrect about Netanyahu’s statement. Jesus was after all, an Israeli Jew.
But Francis couldn’t take the truth. So he indelicately interrupted his host, interjecting, “Aramaic.”
Netanyahu was probably flustered. True, at the time, educated Jews spoke and wrote in Aramaic. And Jesus was educated. But the language of the people was Hebrew. And Jesus preached to the people, in Hebrew.
Netanyahu responded, “He spoke Aramaic, but he knew Hebrew.”
Reuters’ write-up of the incident tried to explain away the pope’s rudeness and historical revisionism, asserting, “Modern-day discourse about Jesus is complicated and often political.” The report went on to delicately mention, “Palestinians sometimes describe Jesus as a Palestinian. Israelis object to that.”
Israelis “object to that” because it is a lie.
The Palestinians – and their Islamic and Western supporters – de-Judaize Jesus and proclaim him Palestinian in order to libel the Jews and criminalize the Jewish state. It seems like it would be the job of the Bishop of Rome to set the record straight. But instead, Francis’s discourtesy indicated that at a minimum, he doesn’t think the fact of Jesus’s Judaism should be mentioned in polite company.
Francis’s behavior during his public meeting with Netanyahu could have been brushed off as much ado about nothing if it hadn’t occurred the day after his symbolic embrace of some of the worst anti-Jewish calumnies of our times, and his seeming adoption of replacement theology during …read more