Varda EpsteinVarda Meyers Epstein is an expatriate, third-generation born Pittsburgher...
There’s nothing quite like the sight of a giant crucifix plastered all over the newspapers to destroy my beatific (oops, poor word choice) Israeli reverie. It’s one of the things I love most about living in Israel: the fact that it is JEWISH culture that surrounds us here. Our symbols are everywhere.
It was, for me, a lonely experience growing up in Pittsburgh. Santas dotted the packaging of items that seemed to have no connection to Christmas. Yet every December, I was forced to see his smiling visage on items as disparate as toothpaste, furniture polish, and cookies. It made me feel I didn’t belong.
This was a good thing.
It was a good thing because I didn’t belong there. I belong here. In Israel.
This is my land.
To Each His Own
Let me be clear: I don’t have anything against those that follow a different religious path. But must I be forced to let their culture supersede my own, here in my own land? In the land that God promised to the Jewish people?
Tomorrow, Jews will not be allowed to pray at the Western Wall. This will happen in MY generation.
To be sure, it will only be for a short time. A matter of a few hours. Still: Jews will be forbidden access to a holy place in the Jewish State TOMORROW because of the Pope, a Catholic personage. Someone who wears a big, giant crucifix depicting a dead man some other people think is God.
Kotel Is Judenrein
He gets to go the Kotel and I don’t.
Explain to me why it is I must forgo my rights in my own land for his sake. Why is it exactly that anyone thinks I need his recognition?
Especially since that recognition is surely not forthcoming.
After all, he’s meeting the anti-Semitic Grand Mufti at the holiest Jewish site, the epicenter of my religion, the Temple Mount. In so doing, isn’t the Pope all but denying the truth of the Tanach, what HE calls the “Old Testament?”
If the Pope believed in the words of the Tanach, he would know that Muslims have absolutely no claim to this site—that the Temple Mount belongs only to the Jews.
The Pope would know that this is where Abraham was tested—asked to sacrifice his only son. He would know that this was where the High Priest prayed for the nation of Israel every Yom Kippur. He would know that here is the place where God’s presence resides. He would not have the TEMERITY to meet with a man who claims the words of the holy book are nothing but lies. He would not have the AUDACITY to meet with the Grand Mufti, the one who cries from his pulpit:
“‘The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. / The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. / Then the stones or trees will call: ‘Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”
If the Pope were a God-fearing man, he would FEAR God’s retribution for paying lip service to this belief which is foreign both to his own religion and to mine.
A Political Statement
Then of course, there is the small matter of the Pope’s intention to issue statements while here in MY land, regarding, "the Palestinian people's right to have a homeland, sovereign and independent.”
Translation: The Jews must give their God-given land over to the murderous intruder in their midst.
Maybe the Pope didn’t get the memo: this generation of Jews doesn’t have sole ownership of God’s Promised Land. It belongs to this generation’s descendants as well. It’s not in my power to give it away.
I don’t tell him to choose the white cassock over the red, why does he think he can advise me on real estate matters?
Think I’m exaggerating? So explain to me the significance of how the Pope’s luncheon guests were chosen. Yes, he chose to dine with the poor, to exemplify the real meaning of Christianity, except that WHOOPS. He specified that poor doesn’t really mean poor. By “poor” he means people that are oppressed by Jews.
“The poor who have no daily bread or living on the street have not been selected. Our poor are those who suffer for humanitarian reasons, political and social.”
His guest list is a political statement. One that is not in favor of the Jewish State.
So explain to me why it is I need this visit?
A Loch in Kop
Short answer: I don’t.
Unless, of course, he’s bringing back our Temple Treasures.
I’m not holding my breath.