The Pope at the “Apartheid Wall”

Ashraf Ramelah’s latest essay concerns Pope Francis’ visit to Israel, connecting it with the recent elections in Egypt and the EU.

The Pope, the Field Marshall, and the EU “earthquake”: Standing or succumbing to Islamist pressures?

by Ashraf Ramelah

Many do not think of the Vatican as an independent, sovereign city-state with its own diplomatic envoy, Secretariat of State and embassies around the world. Most think of it as the home of the beloved Pope and the headquarters of the Catholic hierarchy. The Catholic Pope, both spiritual leader and head of a tiny kingdom in the center of Rome, is the only absolute monarch in Europe — exercising legislative, executive, and judicial power over the state.

So when the Vatican spokesperson announced in advance of the Pope’s trip to the Holy Land this past month that his visit would be a spiritual journey in response to an invitation from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Vatican meant that the Pope’s visit would not be political. But the Vatican did not anticipate the Pope’s unplanned stop at Israel’s security barrier — a wall built by Israel 10 years ago to protect Israeli citizens from Arab-Palestinian suicide bombers — en route to Jerusalem.

Pope Francis stopped at two walls. Before visiting the Western Wall religious site he made an unexpected stop at Israel’s security wall. The controversial separation fence between Israel and Bethlehem has aided Israel in saving lives while being labeled the “apartheid fence” by pro-Palestinian voices. One photo circulating in the aftermath of the Pope’s visit to the security wall shows him making the sign of the cross to begin prayer. Next to him is giant, red-lettered graffiti, “Free Palestine,” next to bold black letters, “Apartheid wall” — the latter, ironically an accusation against Israel’s multicultural democracy. Did Pope Francis realize how his association with Palestinian rhetoric would appear in pictures published for his admirers around the world, and what it could mean?

The Pope’s sudden visit to the concrete barrier was atypical of a spiritual pilgrimage where the heart of Christianity awaited him at notable biblical landmarks. For the Pope to pray anywhere in public other than holy sites or sanctuaries would be considered unusual. And for what purpose? We can only guess. Leaving Hamas-held Bethlehem, the Pope paused in silence as he pressed his face and hands against a wall detested by Muslims around the world. He linked his own image to powerful Palestinian rhetoric. Photos around the world show him standing alongside “Bethlehem looks like a Warsaw Ghetto.” Such sentiments reverberate across the world to equate Israel with Nazism and Palestinians with Polish Jews. If we didn’t think differently of him, we would suspect that the Pope’s visit to this wall was a special gift for Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas.

Another snapshot connects the Pope’s image with a forlorn child holding a Palestinian flag. The Pope is silent. The viewer needs to read his mind. He says nothing because his journey is spiritual not political. The images remain and foster speculation. Is the Pope’s ambiguity sending a political message for the Vatican after all? And coupled with the Vatican’s planned agenda for the Pope’s visit to the Holy Land that entailed a first stop in Amman, Jordan, then Hamas-held Bethlehem and finally Jerusalem (the origin of his invitation), one might get the distinct idea that the Pope’s trip represented from the outset the opposite of the Vatican’s announcement.

Egyptians paid almost no attention to the Catholic Pope’s historic visit — no comments one way or the other — odd, but not so much, considering the circumstances. Upon the Pope’s return to Rome, Egyptians began three days of voting which ended decisively with a new President. A candidate of the people’s choice was successfully elected — a far cry from the previous election consisting of delays and much mystery surrounding the outcome. In and of itself, it spells for the first time a moral victory for Egypt over political Islam and Islamic terrorism. Former military Field Marshal Abdel Fatah Al Sisi has won the people and won the country’s election, and any steps he takes now to further the direction he has already taken will be monumental for Egypt.

Meanwhile, at exactly the same time, the European Union elections shifted France’s representation to the right (and others as well: Greece, Denmark, UK, and Austria) in response to its controversial immigration problem — illegal Arab-Muslim populations coming from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Viewed as an “earthquake,” election results demonstrate that Europeans feel threatened by an Arab-Islamic “invasion” and want to secure their own identities, roots and cultures.

The advance of Euroskeptic groups (those opposed to the EU altogether) across Europe is due to a perception that the EU will accommodate and appease Islam, allowing and even promoting porous borders. Italy, however, which has the presidency of the European Parliament this semester and will lead, has created an opposite wave with the 40.8 percent win of Matteo Renzi’s Left-wing party (Partito Democratico) and is likely to be widely challenged by the minority Right and the Euroskeptics.

The Pope has followed up his trip with the recent visit of Israeli President Shimon Peres and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican — praying and advocating for a dialogue of peace. But the hope of Europe rests in political movements that will assure real peace after the much prolonged attempt at appeasement. This may ultimately jeopardize the stability of the EU threatening its dissolution, but all the better if it means regaining individual state sovereignty on matters of regulation, borders, immigration and culture.

Dr. Ashraf Ramelah is founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a human rights organization, and a board member of Stop Islamization of Nations (SION).

Previous posts:

2014   Jan   21   Western Media Distort Egypt’s Constitutional Approval
    Apr   14   Did the Muslim Brotherhood Instigate the Clash in Upper Egypt?
        18   Holy Pascha in Jerusalem
    May   12   Co-opting the Holocaust
        24   Who is Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi?

6 thoughts on “The Pope at the “Apartheid Wall”

  1. The author of this article has his finger on the pulse of what this radical Left Pope is propagandizing without uttering a single word and by simply using his presence at that security wall.

    If this Pope had meant to display a message other than what most will comprehend his photo op to mean, then why did he not also visit the other side of the wall where people are targeted for death simply because they are Jews?

  2. I’m always impressed with Ashraf Ramelah. I have read from Aymenn Jawad that many Coptic Christians view Jews as Christ killers – that the message of Nostra Aetate has often failed to guide the Mideast’s Christians. That is obviously not the case here, as well as with Raymond Ibrahim.
    As for the Pope’s Israeli visit, when one considers the precarious security of Mideast Christians, as well as Iran’s nuclear program and genocidal rhetoric, a clear statement about Islam as Pope Benedict gave would probably clear up a lot of the ambiguity caused by his largely ambiguous symbolic gestures.

  3. Hi Baron,

    Saw this amazing video on youtube—thought you could post it. It really is amazing how much Britain has gone to these Islamic dogs.

  4. This pope is marxist, no doubt. I can only speculate about what this guy’s “mission” really is. I fear it is something sinister.

  5. Well, as some Colombian friends pointed out to me at the time of this Pope’s election, he is a Jesuit, and the Jesuits are the authors of “Liberation Theology”, which is basically an adaptation of Marxism to Catholicism that has caused a lot of misery down here. The Jesuits have a long history of mixing into politics, usually with nasty results for a lot of people.

    • Yes, Francis is a Jesuit, but there is nothing in his background that would lead one to think he believes in Liberation theology. I knew many Jesuits who were NOT taken in as it morphed into what it is today. It is largely a South American artifact, born of the deep and ugly divide between rich and poor down there. It was spread not by the hierarchy, of which Francis was one – and he was Argentinian to boot, but by local priests who wanted to help the poor in the favelas.

      Your Colombian friends were giving you a stereotypical response to Jesuits. “Mixing into politics” by clergy of different denominations has gone on for a long time now; Jesus got into trouble for “mixing in religious politics, too.

      Martin Luther King, Jr. was an enthusiast for liberation theology, but that is quite a different world view than an Argentinian Jesuit like Francis would have. BTW, Francis is the very first Jesuit ever chosen by the College of Cardinals to lead. So in that sense, he’s an iconoclast. I think he’s dead wrong about economics, but most of them have been since Leo XIII. They need to start teaching economic theory in the seminaries, but fat chance.Their ignorance is leaving the Western Church in great peril.

      A Jesuit who worked with throw-away kids in the U.S. ghettoes didn’t preach or practice liberation theology; he just focused on finding help for his kids so they could break their cycles of gangs and drugs and death.

      Jesuits can be found in every walk of life, including music and the sciences.There are even several who teach conservative economics…

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