Filed under: opinion, religion | Tags: benedict, benedict XVI, catholic, german, holocaust, joseph ratzinger, nazi, pope, posted by elan, vatican, Yad Vashem
Pope Benedict XVI, the current leader of the Catholic Church, is currently making a high-visibility pilgrimage to the Middle East. He first met with Jordanian monarch King Abdullah II and offered mass to Catholics in Amman. The Pope then traveled to Israel, touring holy sites, engaging in inter-religious dialog and meeting President Shimon Peres. (Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is in Egypt for a conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.)
After briefly surveying the international media, it seems that the most contentious part of the Pope’s trip has been his visit to Yad Va’Shem, Israel’s national holocaust museum. Though not a religious or historic site, the Israeli government generally insists that all visiting foreign heads of state visit the solemn commemoration in order to appreciate and understand the necessity of a Jewish state and refuge. The Pope has been criticized for avoiding certain elements of the museum, including an exhibit that highlights the silence of the Vatican and Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust. In addition, Benedict has taken fire for his broad, general remarks at the museum and a general lack of acknowledgment and reference to the horrors of the calamity.
Whether the Pope was specific enough is a difficult call to make. Some go so far as to claim that the Pope spoke in generalities to mask his own involvement in the conflict. Benedict, then known as Joseph Ratzinger, was a member of the Hitler Youth and later, the German Army. However, it is clear that the Pope was never a Nazi. He was conscripted into the Hitler Youth like every other German teenager. As the German war effort collapsed, he was drafted into an anti-aircraft artillery group. One could hardly claim that a minor, forced against his will to fight, embraced the Nazi philosophy. Furthermore, it is dishonest to label the entire Wermacht as Nazi foot-soldiers. While the relationship between Catholics and Jews may not be particularly warm, it is disingenuous to lambast the Catholic leader.
My aunt, who lives in Jerusalem, sent me an e-mail, in which she mentioned that the Pope will becoming. Her first thought was that it will be a huge inconvenience because random streets will be blocked, and there might be times when it is easier just to get out of the car and walk to where ever she is going.
An opinion article in Yediot Achronot, stated that the author would not like the pope to come. Mainly based on the hazy anti-Semitic past of this Pope. Pope Benedict XVI was a memeber of the Hitler Youth during WWII, but denies that he is actually anti-Semitic, saying instead that he did it because he was young and that everyone was doing it. I can understand why someone would say that they don’t want the Pope in Israel. To me it is fairly clear that the visit is religiously motivated, rather than politically
Instead of griping, Israel should take advantage of this opportunity. If the Pope enjoyshimself, then it could boost tourism in Israel. A positive experience could also make for better diplomatic relations with the UN and the EU (Italy, Poland, and Spain are all more than 94% Roman Catholic, by population) Lets take advantage of this opportunity to make Israel a better and more respected country.
Filed under: opinion
Yom HaAtzmaut Sameach! As Israel celebrates it’s 61st year of Independence, we hope you’ll take some time to read up on the holiday’s history, enjoy the traditional Yom HaAtzmaut BBQ (mangal),watch the International Independence Day Bible Trivia Competition, and celebrate Israel’s Independence!
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“Today I remember the men and women who died tragically for my country, the State of Israel.”
The time between the destruction of the 2nd Temple and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was marked by Jewish Persecution. Throughout Europe and Asia, Jews could not find one place to sit down and live in peace. From blood libels to the Spanish Inquisition, the Dreyfus trial to the Holocaust, Jews have been targeted by every other nation as scapegoats for their problems.
Prior to independence and more than 61 years later, Israel has lost some of its best workers, intellectuals, laborers, and friends in the fight to keep the Jewish state alive. When neighboring Arab countries attempt to drive Israel into the sea, the Israel Defense Forces step up to protect the country which is not only theirs, but that of the entire nation stemming from Yitzhak (also known as Israel). We are blessed to have a country that has survived 61 years, so we must remember how we achieved this feat. We give tribute to those who allow us to live without persecution in the land of Israel.
Judaism is a religion centered around looking back at the past: remembering Creation and the Exodus from Egypt, remembering family members who pass away, remembering the Shoah. Today, we remember those who were killed in battle and those who were innocent bystanders. Remembrance is so critical that the day is named after the word (Yom Hazikaron comes from the root of zocher/lizchor – to remember).
Many times, the Israelis who lost their lives were secular Jews; Jews who shared a connection only through common name of religion. It is this connection, however, that makes the camaraderie so special. They care not the level of observance, yet they will do anything to protect a Jew.
Don’t ever forget those who fought so you could be safe in Israel. Today I remember Michael Levin (z”l) as a hero and role model for many. Michael attended Ramah Poconos and was active in Hagesher USY, went on USY High, and decided to make Aliyah directly after Nativ. He was killed tragically in the 2nd Lebanese War in 2006, the only American and chayal boded (lone soldier) to die that summer. Below is his quote from his Nativ yearbook:
“You can’t fulfill your dreams unless you dare to risk it all.”
-Michael Levin (z”l), Of Blessed Memory
Filed under: music
Check out this new single/video from Israeli singer Yael Deckelbaum of Banot Nechama fame:
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: crime, democracy, gaza, Hamas, posted by elan, war
The international media continues to accuse Israel of committing gross violations of the Geneva Conventions and trespassing on human rights during the recent war with Hamas, the terror organization currently in control of the Gaza strip. Whether, and to what extent, the Israel Defense Forces actually broke international law deliberately or accidentally, remains to be seen. However, it is extraordinarily clear that Hamas consistently attacks Israeli population centers and uses schools, hospitals and residential structures as shields against Israeli troops and air strikes.
The Reason Foundation, in its magazine, explains the key difference between Israel and Hamas. While the terror organization strangles the civil liberties of Gazans and is willing to sacrifice them to hurt Israel’s self image, the middle east’s only democracy is engaged in a healthy debate over its tactical procedures. Dany Zamir, a former officer in the IDF, is openly criticizes the government and the military, without fear of reprisal. War is always ugly and bloody. The international community should cut Israel some slack for allowing dissent towards its policies and striving to avoid collateral damage.
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: Ahmadinejad, Durban, posted by Sam, racism, USA
Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, spoke out against the Durban 2 conference. The speech came at a ceremony commemorating one of the worst human rights disgraces of all time, the Holocaust. He proclaimed that the anti-racism summit currently being held in Geneva is really “an acceptance of racism, not a fight against it.”
Ahmadinejad gave a speech on the second day of the conference, without a translation from Farsi. Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz stood up at the beginning of the speech and commented on the lack of translation prevented attendees to participate. When Iran’s President mentioned Israel as a racist state, delegates from many European countries walked out. Other interruptions, like people interrupting Ahmadinejad with shouts of “racist, racist!” happened on several occasions.
This explicit example of racism is the reason that the United States did not want to legitimatize the conference with its presence. This is a a noble but incongruous position for the US to take. Under President Bush, this stubborn policy would have made more sense. Obama’s approach has been different. Since his election campaign, he has stated that he would be willing to meet with Iran with out preconditions. Congressional Black Caucus chair, Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, pointed out that this non-confrontational strategy is only going to make the United States a less prominent player in the determination of what will be the future of global human rights policy.