View Full Version : The Jews Vs. The Christians - Let's Get It On!

07-29-2005, 11:39 PM
Vatican in terror dispute with Israel


John Hooper in Rome and Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Saturday July 30, 2005
The Guardian

Pope Benedict XVI was yesterday immersed in the first big diplomatic crisis of his papacy after the Vatican issued an unusually blunt statement criticising Israel for its response to Palestinian attacks.

The Vatican's stinging rebuke came after Israel demanded to know why the Pope did not refer to a Palestinian suicide bombing in remarks he made on Sunday condemning terrorist attacks in London and Sharm el-Sheikh.

In a 1,300-word communique, the Vatican said: "It has not always been possible to follow every attack against Israel with a public declaration of condemnation."

It said one reason for this was that "the attacks on Israel were sometimes followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the norms of international law ... It would thus be impossible to condemn the [terrorist operations] and pass over the [Israeli retaliation] in silence".

The statement also expressed irritation with the reaction of the Israeli government to the Pope's original comments and said it was not prepared to "take lessons or instructions from any other authority on the content and direction of its own statements".

Israel has repeatedly demanded that other governments recognise Palestinian attacks as part of an international Islamist campaign against western democracy, therefore implicitly not connected to its own actions in the occupied territories.

The Israeli foreign ministry called in the Vatican's envoy on Monday to complain that the Pope, in condemning terrorist attacks in several countries, had "deliberately" omitted mention of a July 12 suicide bombing in the coastal city of Netanya in which five Israelis died. The Pope's spokesman replied that the pontiff had explicitly indicated he was referring to all the recent attacks. He said it was "surprising that one would have wanted to take the opportunity to distort the intentions of the Holy Father".

The generally conciliatory tone of the Vatican's initial response appeared to have put an end to the row. But the next day an Israeli foreign ministry official told the Jerusalem Post that it has been Vatican policy for years not to condemn terrorism in Israel.

Thursday's statement was framed as a response to that claim. It included a long list of references to statements made by the late pope, John Paul II, condemning violence against civilians in Israel.

After the July 7 bombings in London, Israel's foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, said suicide attacks around the world were driven by a common hatred for freedom. "Ultimately terrorism can strike any country in the world that has an ideology of freedom, of democracy, that has an ideology of openness," he said.

Shortly afterwards the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, ordered his ministers not to comment on the London bombings for fear that their remarks could be interpreted as seeking to make political capital out of the killings.

But Mr Shalom's wife, Judy, felt no such restraint on a television chatshow a few days later. "As long as I hold no official position I can say it's not all bad for the English to find out what it's like," she said.

07-30-2005, 07:27 AM

07-30-2005, 02:55 PM
Is there a single leader of Isreal that we could possibly set up in a pay per view boxing match with the pope? That'd pay for the war, for sure.

07-31-2005, 08:57 PM
Israel wants truce with Vatican


(Gold9472: Oh... Israel takes a right...)


Not interested in carrying on a public mudslinging match with the pope, the Foreign Ministry did not respond to a sharp Vatican rebuttal Thursday to Israel's protest that Pope Benedict XVI did not include attacks in Israel recently when condemning world terrorism.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Israel would not comment on the Vatican statement that said it "has not always been possible to follow every attack against Israel with a public declaration of condemnation."

One of the reasons, according to the Vatican's unusually long and strident statement, is that "the attacks on Israel were sometimes followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the norms of international law... It would thus be impossible to condemn the [terrorist operations] and pass over the [Israeli retaliation] in silence."

The 1,300 word statement added that "the Holy See cannot take lessons or instructions from any other authority on the tone and content of its statements."

The Vatican's statement, according to press reports, was prompted by an interview last Tuesday in The Jerusalem Post where senior Foreign Ministry official Nimrod Barkan said that Israel had for years quietly protested that John Paul had refrained from condemning attacks in Israel and was now going public with its protest in hopes that the new pope would change the policy.

"Since they never paid a price for the lack of a condemnation, they continued to do it. But if they understand we won't let this pass quietly, I assume they will change their ways," Barkan said.

He said he wasn't concerned that public protest would damage relations with Benedict, saying, "What could be worse than implying that it is okay to kill Jews?"

Barkan, the director of the Foreign Ministry's World Jewish Affairs Bureau, called Vatican Archbishop Pietro Sambi into his office last Monday to protest that the pope, who prayed for God to stop the "murderous hand" of terrorists, referred to the recent "abhorrent terrorist attacks" in Egypt, Britain, Turkey and Iraq, but left out the July 12 suicide bombing that killed five people in Netanya.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who issued Thursday's Vatican rebuttal, responded to Barkan's comment that previous popes refrained from condemning attacks in Israel by issuing a two-page list of the times John Paul condemned attacks against Jews and calling Barkan's accusations "groundless" and invented.

Jewish leaders on Friday urged the Vatican and Israel to tone down the rhetoric in the escalating dispute over papal pronouncements on terrorism, saying they feared the feud could do lasting damage to relations.

Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, said the dispute was "only damaging for both parties," adding that he hoped it would end quickly.

"As a religious leader, I am really worried about the escalating level of this debate and that we stop as soon as possible," he said.

Seymour Reich, who has been involved in Jewish-Vatican negotiations in the past, said both sides had "overreacted" and urged them to "take a deep breath and look at the bigger picture regarding Israel-Vatican relations and the Vatican's world Jewry relations."

Reich, who is past chairman of the New York-based International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, an umbrella group of major Jewish organizations, said he thought the issue would die down and that the pope's upcoming visit to a synagogue in Cologne would go ahead as planned.

He said he also didn't think the spat would affect celebrations this fall commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Vatican's "Nostra Aetate" declaration that revolutionized the Vatican's relations with Jews. In the document, the Vatican rejected anti-Semitism and the notion that Jews were collectively responsible for the death of Christ.

"'Nostra Aetate is a monumental event that will go ahead without any distractions," he said.

AP contributed to this report.