Op-Ed: 1964-2014: two Popes and the Temple Mount
Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. He has just prblished a book about the Vatican and Israel titled "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books.
On January 5, 1964, Pope Paul VI made, for the first time in the history of the Papacy, a papal visit in Jerusalem. The Pope said in Megiddo, where he entered Israel, “We are coming as pilgrims, we come to venerate the Holy Places; we come to pray”.
The Pope thanked unspecified “authorities” for arranging his visit and refused to address Zalman Shazar as “Mr. President”, avoiding any mention of that damned word: “Israel”. On his return to the Vatican, Paul sent a thank you note to “Mr. Shazar” in Tel Aviv”, not Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. To exorcise the Israeli devil, they refuse to name it expressis verbis.
Pope Paul VI spent only eleven hours in Israel. He avoided Israeli-controlled West Jerusalem, refusing to meet there with then Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim. The rabbi therefore refused to attend the official welcome arranged in Megido. A few years later, Nissim attacked Pope Paul VI for his implied criticism of Israel’s reprisal raid on Beirut Airport and accused the Pope and the Vatican of conducting a “general campaign” against the Jewish religion and the Jewish people. The Chief Rabbi alleged that the Pope was not moved by the lives lost in the terrorist bombing of the Machane Yehuda market place in Jerusalem a month earlier, “but he hurried to console Lebanon after the destruction of a few planes without loss of life.”
In 1964, when Pope Paul VI made the first papal visit to Jerusalem and the terror-organization PLO was formed by Arafat (not surprisingly, the Vatican was one of the first to recognize it), Jerusalem was divided by barbed-wire and snipers crouched on the roofs. Jews and Christians with Israeli passports were barred from entering the Old City.
At that time, the Vatican ambassador’s residence at the foot of the Mount of Olives, provided a close look at the razing of over 40,000 Jewish graves in Judaism’s oldest cemetery and where, according to tradition, the resurrection of the dead on the Day of Judgment will happen.
The Vatican never raised its voice to protest against the apartheid imposed by the Jordanian Muslims. Israeli leaders and rabbis asked the Vatican to use its “good offices” to intervene in order to stop the desecration, but during this dark period, the rape of Jewish Jerusalem did not lead to any expression of concern from Vatican diplomats.
Another Pope, Francio, will visit Israel this spring to mark the 50th anniversary of Paul VI’s visit in 1964. And the battle is still on for the control of Mount Zion, near the very site of the two Holy Temples in Jerusalem.
As in 1964 after the Machane Yehuda attack, the Vatican has remained silent during the last terrible trials for the Jewish people, when Evyatar Borovsky of Yitzhar was stabbed to death by a Palestinian Arab; when Sgt. Tomer Hazan of Bat Yam was murdered; when Sgt. Maj. Gal Kobi of Tirat Carmel was shot in the neck near Hevron's Cave of Patriarchs; when Retired IDF Colonel Seraya Ofer was beaten to death outside his home and when Pvt. Eden Atias was stabbed to death on a bus.
Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, a resident of the Old City of Jerusalem that he himself helped liberate in 1967 and the head of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, has just given warning that there is a “terrible plan” to give away parts of the Old City to the Vatican and Islam.
Meanwhile, it is possible that in the “peace agreement” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Maaleh HaZeitim and Shimon HaTzaddik will be under Arab-Muslim sovereignty. The includes the same cemetery vandalized under the Pope’s eyes in 1964.
The alliance between the mosques and the Vatican will open the Jordan Vally border towards Jordan, permitting Islamic terrorists to flush into the Mountains of Zion.
1964-2014: The Temple Mount is still in danger. And with it, the life of the Jewish people.