Israel demands Pope Benedict XVI condemn Holocaust deniers
The Israeli government demanded that Pope Benedict XVI explicitly condemn Catholics who deny the Holocaust, as he arrived in Jordan on the first leg of his tour of the Holy Land billed as an act of 'reconciliation'.
By Richard Spencer in Amman 08 May 2009
The Pope insists his eight-day trip is a "pilgrimage" to Holy Land sites but it has become embroiled in disputes over controversial comments he has made affecting relations with both religions. Shortly before the Pope landed in the Jordanian capital Amman, where he was greeted by King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, a minister in the new Right-wing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu released the text of a letter in which he referred indirectly to the Pope's lifting of the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, the breakaway English Catholic bishop who has denied aspects of the Holocaust, in January.
"I would like to point out that Holocaust survivors in Israel and elsewhere sincerely hope that your excellency will clearly condemn the purveyors of Holocaust denial and antisemitism, some of whom profess loyalty to your Church," said the letter written by Yaakov Margi, Israel's religious affairs minister.
In contrast to his popular predecessor, John Paul II, feelings in Israel are ambiguous towards Pope Benedict, a German who had to join the Hitler Youth as a child during the war.
The Pope will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on Monday, but he will not step inside the museum. He has backed the canonisation of the wartime pope, Pius XII, whose photograph in the museum is adorned with a caption accusing him of not doing enough to speak up for or help the Jews.
He has also spoken out on behalf of the beleaguered Palestinian Christian community, and presses for a two-state solution to the Palestinian issue.
Nevertheless, the Vatican has been at pains to concede to Israeli pressure over aspects of the visit.
After intense lobbying aides agreed the Pope would not make an address on a specially constructed stage in a Palestinian refugee camp that abuts the Israeli security barrier.
That platform would have provided television cameras with powerful images of him speaking against the wall, which cuts off Palestinian communities, and even of Israeli watchtowers in the background.
Screaming "anti-Semite" and making threats, subtle and otherwise, is all Apartheid Israel has left. Create a furor over the Holocaust™ to get those cameras away from showing that Apartheid wall Israel has constructed around the world's largest prison, Gaza.
Anything to distract from the horrible crimes being perpetuated by Israel against Occupied Palestine.