Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage visit to Israel is creating quite a bit of press coverage. Unlike Pope John Paul II visit a few years ago, Benedict XVI seems to be on a personal/church/religious mission rather than on a mission of interfaith understanding, bridge building and politics.
Many interesting stories accompany his visit:
Trembling Before the Pope (the story of the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal, and his view of Catholics in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip)
A Muslim cleric and head of the Palestinian Sharia court, Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi, gave an unscheduled speech today at an interfaith gathering attended by the Pope. Once the Pope heard a translation of the Sheikh’s remarks he walked out, perhaps fulfilling one of Patriarch Twal’s concerns. Read another take on this story on CNN.
The Pope’s comments after visiting Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust musuem, instigated many comments. Read a few in Ha’aretz, al-Jezeera, BBC, the Forward and YNet.
I hope that the Pope’s visit leads to greater respect, understanding and peace between peoples and a willingness of all to turn away from hate and intollerance.
UPDATE: A Holocaust Survivor says that the criticism of the Pope is exagerated (YNet).
Oy. More soldiers killed and captured. More families in pain, worry and heartache. My prayers go to the Holy One for the soldiers killed & captured, their families and for the soldiers who are looking for them.
One excellent way to stay connected to what is happening is to read Aussie Dave’s blog, Israellycool, updated every few minutes and with many important links. Read today’s post or the entire blog.
Sent with prayers, hope and care/concern for the family of Israel.
For the Asheri family the worst has happened. Their son, Eliyahu, is dead. It is a sad day for the people of Israel – a member of our communal family is dead because of hatred. The Jerusalem Post opens their article by writing,
The IDF confirmed early Thursday a report the Popular Resistance Committees issued from Gaza that it had executed Eliyahu Asheri, 18, of Itamar, who was kidnapped earlier this week in the West Bank. [Read the rest of the article...]
The BBC reported the story before IDF confirmation. I realize that the BBC is well known for being pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel in its bias. However, I don’t understand their wording on the report of Asheri’s death. The headline reads, Militants ‘kill’ Israeli settler - why is it that quotes are around the word ‘kill’? Was he not a human? Was he not a life worth living? Did he not really live, thus not really die, necessitating the quotes? I find this usage disturbing. Certainly the BBC should have acknowledged that the IDF had not yet confirmed the tragedy, but this does not necessitate the quote marks. Feel free to let me know if you have a better explanation.
May the Holy One bring comfort to Eliyahu’s parents, family and friends.
UPDATE: More details in Haaretz‘s article.
By now you are likely aware of the present situation in Israel – (on June 25th) Hamas/Palestinian Authority Terrorists kidnapped an Israeli soldier named Gilad Shalit and (on June 27th) a tennage settler named Eliyahu Asheri.
Here are pictures of them:
Gilad was taken after the PA soldiers dug a tunnel outside of the Gaza/Israel border, killed two Israeli soliders and took him prisoner. What a nightemere. The PA did respond to requests to release him with anything reasonable for Gilad. (They supposedly want all women and teens who are in prison because they are convicted of particpation in terrorist attacks to be freed.) The world isn’t doing much to help (nothing new there) and today Israel began taking limited action to get him back in an operation called “Summer Rain.” As reported in the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, Israel is doing this only to get Gilad back (G-d willing alive and well) and not to retake Gaza. Infact, they are doing everything possible to severly limit civilian injuries or involvment. (Hamas makes this very difficult, for they are well known for putting their operations headquareters and offices within preschools, apartments and the like to try to prevent an attack on them. Hamas, in otherwords, uses their own children as human shields.)
Many bloggers are covering events as they unfold, including fequent updates by the (excellent) Israeli blogger Aussie Dave on his site IsraellyCool. Keep checking this post for updates. Here are links to Aussie Dave’s original posts on the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and Eliyahu Asheri.
May Gilad and Eliyahu return safely and soon. Please keep them in your prayers.
UPDATE: There are reports of a THIRD kidnapping, this time of Noah Moskovitch! (Hat tip to Aussie Dave.) OY
UPDATE: More information on Noah Moskovitch courtesy Aussie Dave.
UPDATE: YNet has the text and video of a letter from Gilad Shalit’s parents, Noam and Aviva, to the kidnappers and Gilad. (Thanks to On the Face)
Google News is carrying various reports that Hamas is considering beginning to tall with/about Israel. For example – Ha’aretz “Haniyeh: Hamas won’t cave in to external economic pressures” and the Globe and Mail. I’ll believe it when I see it.
It might be in Israel – it being the bird flu.
Here are some links:
Haaretz on the status of 3 people suspected of having bird flu (they might not have it)
JPost on Israel working with the Palestinian Authority to combat the potential bird flu.
Blogger Allison Kaplan Sommer on the bird flu scare
As we enter shabbat here in the states, may the Holy One bring healing to Israel and the world.
Many in the blog world, especially the Israeli blog world have written about the peace talks and the hopeful caution that we feel. I guess the caution comes from having high hopes dashed before by violence and hate.
Here are some posts by other bloggers:
Renatina writes about Tikva v’safek (hope and doubt).
Andrew Jaffe writes on his thoughts at Israpundit.
Gilly compares the feelings at this peace talk with how many of us felt in 1993 with the signing of the Oslo accords.
Imshin shares her thoughts.
Mike writes about hope and skepticism.
Adrian reflects on the decision by Jordan and Egypt to return ambassadors to Israel.
Sadly, because Abbas is making overtures towards peace, some are worried about a threat to his life (JPost, free registration needed).
Ha’aretz newspaper has many stories on the peacetalks, including a page of pictures from the summit.
May G-d spread peace over all.
UPDATE – Richard at Tikun Olam also has an informative post on the peace talks. (Sorry, Richard and thanks for the comment to let me know.)
Today’s meeting between Abbas and Sharon in Sharm-el-Sheik gives me hope that the beginnings of peace may again be on the horizon.
May G-d help all leaders focus on peace and justice rather than on personal agenda, ego and money.
May peace spread throughout the land.
(If you are looking for some information on today’s meeting, try the New York Times (free registration needed).)
Sunday will be election day in the Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Palestinians will elect a new President to replace Arafat. There are many predictions, pronouncements, warnings and hopeful statements on the web and in the media. I do not intend to duplicate any of them nor even summarize them. Rather, I share with you some signs and evidence of work already happening on the ground to continue to nurture co-existence and peace.
All Nations Cafe, has been engaging in coexistence for some time now. Take a look at the beautiful
pictures on their website of some of their activites. (Who are they, their information page includes the statement, “We believe that people can live in peace if they get to know each other, through sharing food, having an open conversation, through celebrating and through working together.”
According to the Jerusalem Report, the Israeli Army may not re-enter Palestinian areas after the election.
Leslie Susser of the Jerusalem Report details some of the mechanism of the election,
The January 9 election will be monitored by about 250 international observers. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter will head a 90-member supervising committee. The election will be conducted according to the 1996 model, in which East Jerusalem Palestinians voted at post offices, rather than at regular polling booths. Israel did not want to deny East Jerusalemites the right to vote, but at the same time did not want the fact of their having voted to imply anything about the territorial status of disputed East Jerusalem. The dilemma was resolved by having them cast what could be regarded as a postal vote. The same procedure will be followed this time too.
I have hope which I pray will not be dimmed by terror or extremism on any side that Sunday will be a step toward democracy and peace for the Palestinians.