Pope Prays Beside Graffiti Comparing Bethlehem to Warsaw Ghetto, Jewish Group Calls for Reflection at Yad Vashem
Pope Francis I was pictured praying at Israel’s security barrier on Sunday beneath a slogan that compares Palestinians with Jews under the Nazis, during a visit to Palestinian Authority controlled areas in the West Bank.
“Pope we need someone to speak about Justice,” graffiti on the wall said. “Bethlehem look like Warsaw Ghetto.”
Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center responded to the imagery saying the pictures were a result of a “slick and sick cut-and-paste job by the PA propaganda machine manipulating the pope to stand next to a ‘big lie.'”
“When Pope Francis visits (Holocaust museum) Yad Vashem, his media entourage should reflect on their experiences in Bethlehem today as they view the horrific images of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi Holocaust,” SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told The Algemeiner.
More then 300,000 of the Ghetto’s inhabitants are estimated to have been murdered by the Nazis throughout the duration of World War II.
Citing the pope’s statements in support of peace between Israelis and Arabs, Cooper said the “‘Bethlehem is like the Warsaw Ghetto‘ photo-op debases truth and everything the pope is hoping to achieve with his visit to the Holy Land.”
“There is only one reason for the security wall – Palestinian terrorism – suicide bombers, snipers and rock throwers,” he added.
The barrier was erected by Israel 10 years ago after a spate of suicide bombings and terror attacks left over 1000 Israelis dead. Since its construction, deaths from such attacks have diminished significantly.
Earlier in the day, speaking at the birthplace of Jesus during a visit to the Palestinian Authority-run city of Bethlehem the pope invited Israel’s President Peres and the PA’s Mahmoud Abbas to pray with him for peace.
“In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace,” he said.
Of the photo at the wall Cooper said, “Too bad that fabricated moment will succeed only in fueling Palestinian self-delusion and to reconfirm Israelis’ sober conclusion that they do not yet have a partner prepared to ‘pursue a stable peace based on justice and acknowledging the rights of everybody.'”
Citing the picture among other examples, pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon said that the “Arabs are politicizing this trip to the hilt.”
Another example cited by the blogger comes from the pope’s official website which refers to the Temple Mount as the “Esplanade of the Mosques.”
“Political correctness is one thing; denying that you are a follower of Jesus Christ is another. For the pope, the world’s most conspicuous Christian, to deny the Temple is beneath contempt. What is next? Calling his pilgrimage to Jerusalem a visit to Al Quds?” the blogger wrote.
Watchdog group Honest Reporting pointed to another Palestinian Authority propaganda coup.
“Score one for the Palestinian propaganda machine: The pope’s mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square was held against a backdrop of a mural featuring baby Jesus wrapped in a blanket with the traditional keffiyeh pattern,” the group wrote.
The pope was also criticized for his plan to meet Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the most senior religious figure in the Palestinian Authority who has endorsed the extermination of Jews.
Later on Sunday, Francis referred to “the right of the State of Israel to exist and to flourish in peace and security within internationally recognized boundaries” while also calling for “recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign homeland and their right to live with dignity and with freedom of movement.”
On his upcoming visit to Yad Vashem, the pontiff said “A particularly moving part of my stay will be my visit to the Yad Vashem Memorial to the six million Jews who were victims of the Shoah.”
“I beg God that there will never be another such crime, which also counted among its victims many Christians and others.”