'Israel Going Too Far for Pope'

The State of Israel is going all out in honor of the Pope’s upcoming visit to Israel. Some say it's going too far.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 21:32

Pope at Western Wall in 2000
Pope at Western Wall in 2000
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The State of Israel is going all out in honor of the Pope’s upcoming visit to Israel. Some say it's going too far.

The State of Israel has issued new stamps of churches in honor of the visit, a website featuring a video all but endorsing Christianity, and more. Pope Benedict XVI, 82, is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Monday, May 11, and will leave on Friday, May 15, after having visited President Peres and the Chief Rabbis in Jerusalem, the Grand Mufti at the Dome of the Rock, and more.

Letter of Protest
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and Prof. Hillel Weiss of Bar Ilan University have written an open letter of complaint to the President, Prime Minister, Ministers and Knesset Members of Israel. The government appears to be bending over backwards, the letter states, to be the "willing victim of international pressure" to separate the Jewish nation from its land.

The letter, which has received the support of leading public figures, warns that the Pope's visit comes attached to strings of support for the Arab cause, and should "therefore not be greeted with great enthusiasm."

“We wish to strengthen you at this difficult period,” the letter states, “when the sons of Esau and Ishmael ally together, with members of our nation as well, to refuse to recognize the Jewish sovereign claim to the Land of Israel, despite international decisions of the past century.”

“It is not that Israel’s rights are dependent on the consent of the nations of the world, nor have we inherited our Land based on their agreement. Rather, it is ours by force of the Divine Covenant and the favor and oath made by the G-d of Israel with our forefathers and with us.”

“To our great sorrow, the Pope’s visit to our Land at this fateful period is nothing more than a pilgrimage, so that he can prostrate himself at the places his faith considers holy. No one is preventing him from visiting any site he wishes to, under the full political sovereignty of the State of Israel.

“However, this journey has international political ramifications, representing ideological and political support for the side that still does not agree, just like in 1947, to recognize the State of Israel as the state of the Jews and a Jewish sovereign state. This trip should therefore not be greeted with great enthusiasm.

"Many parts of his itinerary – events, the attempt to sign agreements before and during his visit, the State’s bending-over backwards such as the issuance of stamps and grandiose festivals – are not required. They instead appear to be the fruit of willing participation by the victim in the increasing international pressure to expel Israel from its land…

"The visit is part of, and the natural outgrowth of, the pressure exerted by Esau/Ishmael and the previous Israeli government.

"Israel must therefore refrain from declarations, ceremonies and agreement-signings that appear to be support for the long-running pressure to downgrade Israel’s status in our Land.”