Benedict Walks out on Sheikh

Pope Benedict XVI made a really wonderful speech to the “sons of Abraham.”

After a Palestinian cleric made an unscheduled denunciation of Jews and Israel in his presence, The last man of the 20th century did not stay to complete the diplomatic niceties.

Some forums are complaining that the pope didn’t leave in the middle of the speech. Some are complaining that he shook the sheikh’s hand on the way out. I say give the Holy Father props for maintaining the absolute minimum diplomatic courtesy to a very discourteous person and then absenting himself from this evil. I say give him some props for appearing to be the last man on the international stage with some both dignity and moxie.

A site called Benedict in Israel has the reaction of the Holy See:

“The intervention of Sheikh Tayssir Attamimi was not scheduled by the organizers of the meeting. In a meeting dedicated to dialogue this intervention was a direct negation of what a dialogue should be. We hope that such an incident will not damage the mission of the Pope aiming at promoting peace and also interreligious dialogue, as he has clearly affirmed in many occasions during this pilgrimage. We hope also that interreligious dialogue in the Holy Land will not be compromised by this incident.”

No happy-talk. I wonder what our president and his administration would have done under these circumstances?

Quick reactions:
Instapundit: pithy and correct
Fausta: Sayanora, Sheikh!
The American Papist: in bold
GatewayPundit: was first out with it
John Allen: says Benedict pulls no punches

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Hantchu

    Dateline Jerusalem: All in all, it seems to be a successful visit so far, except for the massive traffic tie-ups. Complaints from some that Benedict’s speech at Yad Vashem was not contrite enough, and that the Vatican has a lot to apologize for. Two Knesset members are critical of the Pope because of continuing procedures on the beatification of Pope Pius.

    Massive media coverage, commemorative stamps issued. There was even a very subtle discussion of the Williamson affair on Israel TV, not imported from foreign channels. We are, unfortunately, rather familiar with obnoxious and obstreoerous clergy of our own here, so it was relatively easy for the Israeli public to understand.

    You can see streaming coverage of the Western wall visit at Check on the western wall (kotel) site on the left sidebar.

    Meanwhile, perfect weather, Jerusalem springtime, and nazareth up north promises to be even greener and more temperate.

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  • Hantchu

    Oh, and a left-wing Knesset member doesn’t want to meet with the Pope because the Church is a symbol of repression. This means he holds it to be the equivalent of traditional Judaism, which is a statement of equality, I guess. My Moroccan hairdresser was surprised to hear that Benedict had NOT been either a member of Hitler Youth or a Nazi. A Russian client explained to her that the Nazi regime press-ganged young civilians in her home town of Odessa as well.

    I also think it’s unbelievably tacky that somebody took Benedict’s note out of the Wall and publicized it. I mean, if he wanted to pray for his brother Rudy (assuming he has one), that would be equally as legitimate as praying for world peace.

  • cathyf

    Hantchu — where did you see that someone took the note out of the wall and publicized it? I just assumed that it was the pope’s choice to publicize it. It’s a bit formal for private prayer, first of all. And to quote scripture in one’s private prayer I’m sure is common, but including the parenthetical note with the book, chapter and verse would be kinda goofy in something private — like God wouldn’t know? (Although I could certainly see this particular man including footnotes in his prayers as a little private joke with God.)

  • cathyf

    Oh, yeah, and the pope’s brother is named Georg. :-) (He is a priest and a musician, and, until retirement, a choir conductor.)

  • Hantchu

    You’re right, cathyf. Swiping the note was what they did to Obama, but as I recall, a copy of Pope John Paul’s note was also formally released to the press. I am a frequent visitior to the Wall, and I am offended at the demand of the media to drag the interior life of “celebs” into the spotlights. First of all, classing Benedict as a “celeb” is pretty trashy. Once again, would they do this to the Dalai Lama? The man has dedicated his life to prayer and spiritual matters–the Public Sphere has a right to “grade” him on his performance? Feh. As we say in Yiddish, “Es past nisht” (it’s not proper to behave like that).

    Full Disclosure–I have an allergy to the custom of putting notes in the Wall. It’s a venerable tradition, and one refrains from criticising such customs unless they involve a clear violation of Jewish law, which this doesn’t. “If [the Jewish people] are not prophets, at least they are the sons of prophets”, and popular custom is therefore not to be dismissed.

    Nevertheless, I haven’t left a “kvittelach” in the Wall in years and years, and the more familiar I become with the Wall, the more it seems that the tourists who leave notes just don’t “get it”. Obviously, G-d knows our requests when we fomulate them in prayer, and even before that. It’s not like a holy place gets better reception from Heaven, more like it releases or frees up something in us that can allow us to communicate better with G-d. So if writing a note does that better than being there, reading Psalms, and soaking up the atmosphere, I shouldn’t be such a snob.

    What Benedict was doing was showing respect for the Jewish popular custom, which says more than any speech about changes in Catholic-Jewish relations. I hope he did include a prayer for his brother Georg in addition to World Peace. Prayers for big abstract things are generally more effective when they are linked to the little tiny things that are important to each of us. And we really DO need World Peace.