Monday, May 11, 2009

Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi disrupts Pope Benedict XVI's interfaith meeting with vicious attack on Israel

Chief Islamic Judge of the Palestinian Authority, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, launched a poisonous verbal attack at Israel at a Monday night gathering attended by Pope Benedict XVI. Reuters provides the gritty details:
Referring to Palestinian Muslims and Christians, Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi said: "We struggle together and suffer together from the oppression of the Israeli occupation.

"We look forward together to liberation and independence and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state."

The incident further marred the start of the German-born pope's five-day tour of Israel and the Palestinian territories....

In uncompromising language, [Taimmi] welcomed the pope to "Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine" -- a direct riposte to Israeli claims to the same city -- and enumerated many of the complaints Palestinians have against Israel.

He said Israel had "desecrated" the Old City's holy sites since capturing it from Jordanian forces in the 1967 Middle East war and was defying international law by demolishing homes, seizing land, building Jewish settlements and erecting a series of walls and fences that had turned the city into "a prison".

Tamimi won a round of applause from some of the assembled clerics for comments referring to Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip in January in which 1,400 Palestinians died.

Addressing the pope at the end of a six-minute address, he said: "Your Holiness, I call on you in the name of the one God, to condemn these crimes and press the Israeli government to halt its aggression against the Palestinian people."

Tamimi shook the pope's hand as he left the podium and the meeting broke up as scheduled immediately afterwards.

Lest there be any misinterpretation as to why the Pope and Tamimi shook hands after the incident occurred, Tobias Buck (Financial Times explains:

Organisers tried to persuade the sheikh to stop, but he continued for several minutes. According to local media reports, there was no translation available, so the pontiff was made aware of the content of the statement only after Mr al-Tamimi had finished speaking. The Pope and his entourage then left the meeting.
Minutes after the embarrassing incident, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, released the following response:
"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."
The Tourism and Foreign ministries also denounced Tamimi's remarks:
It is regrettable that Sheikh Tayssir Tamimi has abused an inter-religious meeting aimed at promoting dialogue and understanding between Christians, Jews and Muslims, in order to incite against Israel.

Minister Stas Misezhnikov, charged with the pope's visit to Israel, stated:

"The sheikh's provocation hurt, first and foremost, Pope Benedict XVI who came to the Holy Land to promote peace and unity between the peoples of the region and all persons of faith. Israel condemns these words of hatred uttered by the sheikh, who instead of fostering peace and coexistence chose to plant seeds of division and confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as between Jews, Muslims and Christians."

It is a shame that the extremists were those who represented the Palestinians and the Muslims in this important event in the presence of the Holy See.

Coincidentally, this was the very same Sheikh who caused a similar disruption during an interfaith meeting attended by then-Pope John Paul II at the Notre Dame Jerusalem Center in 2000. Cindy Wooden and Judith Sudilovsky (Catholic News Service) recall the incident:
Nine years ago, one of Israel's chief rabbis made a speech in which he called Jerusalem Israel's "eternal undivided capital" and claimed the pope had recognized it as such. Sheik al-Tamimi got up and made a rebuttal, saying Jerusalem was Palestine's undivided capital and decrying Israel's occupation of the city.


More recently, in 2006, Tamimi indicted Israel with "trying to hurt the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people also by means of exporting AIDS, drug trafficking, promiscuous norms, and making prostitution legal". (Via Elder of Ziyon).


  1. For background information see links under 'Jews - extermination of Jews a religious duty' and 'Pope Benedict' at the Religion of Peace™ Subject Index.

  2. Thanks for the clarification.

    I can just see it coming...Pamela Geller has a post up already, of course, she failed to have one with Hamas denouncing the Pope as a "Zionist" or the bitterness of the non-apology in Jordan by the part of some Muslim clerics...

  3. Jewish groups and bloggers are calling the pope a Nazi over this incident. They fault the pope for not having walked out while the speech was being given. The expectation is that the pope have either ESP or the gift of tongues, I am guessing.

    Many Jews throw the Nazi Label on anyone who has an opinion not shared by extreme Zionist elements. The fact remains that the pope’s family members were murdered by the Nazis and calling the pope a Nazi is equally distasteful to him as it is to Jews who lost family members to the Nazi atrocities. There are extremist elements on both the Israeli and Palestinian side. These terrorists want noting the total destruction of the other and view the giving the any quarter as treason to their own tribe.

    Ironically, the method of the creation of Israel has been the a great cuse of the divide between Israelis and Palestinians. There was no negotiated settlement but one of terrorism on both sides which drove the British out and a settlement was arbitrarily imposed without consultation by external actors without consultation by external forces. What Israel hoped to have is peace by subjugation which in the end is no peace at all. However, today, due to the animosity created it is hard to find a partner in peace among the Muslim Palestinians who want nothing more than the total destruction of the State of Israel.

    Sure, the pope was enrolled into the Hitler Youth automatically when the school handed over the attendance record to the Nazi state as required by German law. However, the Ratzinger deserted his AAA post twice, the second time successfully. His own father, George Ratzinger resigned his post as inspector of police when the Nazis took over and when law enforcement into the Nazi party was made obligatory for all law enforcement personnel.

    The truth of the matter is that those Jews who have slandered the pope are uncharitable demagogues who have nothing to offer but extremism and violence to further their own genocidal tribal fascination with fanaticism and death who are no different form the Nazis and their Cult of Death.

    Ezra bar Yoel