The enemies of peace are many and emerge unexpectedly. In the events of the day we are getting another admonition to be ever vigilant because those enemies are poppong out of the woodwork even in the name of peace. Islam, I believe, means peace.
“Sheikh attacks Israel, Pope walks out”
Chief Islamic Judge of the Palestinian Authority, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, launched a poisonous verbal attack on Israel at a Monday night gathering attended by Pope Benedict XVI. In a meeting with organizations involved in inter-religious dialogue at the Notre Dame Jerusalem Center, Tamimi called upon Muslims and Christians to unite against what he said were the murderous Israelis.
Taking the podium after the pope without being on the original list of speakers scheduled for the evening, Tamimi, speaking at length in Arabic, accused Israel of murdering women and children in Gaza and making Palestinians refugees, and declared Jerusalem the eternal Palestinian capital.
Following the diatribe and before the meeting was officially over, the pope exited the premises. Army Radio reported that the pope shook Tamimi’s hand before walking out.
Minutes after the embarrassing occurrence, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, released a response to the incident.
“The intervention of Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi was not previewed by the organizers of the interreligious meeting that took place at Notre Dame Centre in Jerusalem,” the message read. “In a meeting dedicated to dialogue, this intervention was a direct negation of what [it] should be,” it continued.
“We hope that such an incident will not damage the mission of the Holy Father aiming at promoting peace and interreligious dialogue, as he has clearly affirmed in many occasions in this pilgrimage,” Father Lombardi added.
“We hope also that interreligious dialogue in the Holy Land will not be damaged by this incident,” the message concluded.
“Israel condemns Tamimi’s disparaging comments,” read a joint statement issued by the ministries. “Instead of advancing peace and coexistence, he chose to sow fear and hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Jews, Muslims and Christians.”
Nine years ago, Tamimi caused a similar scandal when at an interfaith meeting at the Notre Dame Jerusalem Center, attended by the late Pope John Paul II who was the pontiff at the time. Then, the Palestinian religious leader condemned Israel for a long list of offenses.
Never referring to Israel by name, Tamimi had called on “the occupier” to stop “strangling Jerusalem and oppressing its residents.”