Sir, – Having read most of what was written about Pope Francis’s visit to the Middle East, I was impressed by the balance he managed to express (“‘Pope maintained diplomatic balance,’” May 27). He seemed to tread very carefully. He understood the countries and the people, and they understood him, too.
HILARY GATOFF Herzliya Pituah
His idea to invite the leaders of Israel and the Palestinians to the Vatican to pray for a peace with justice, respect and security for all is worth a try. The Almighty of the three monotheistic religions just might be able to bring it off.
Sir, – So the pope has invited President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to a prayer meeting.
It reminds me of the song at the prayer meeting in Damon Runyon’s musical Guys and Dolls – “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” How apt.SALLY SHAW Kfar Saba
Sir, – I was appalled by Pope Francis’s invitation to Israel’s president to pray at the Vatican, but I was stunned by Shimon Peres’s acceptance.
It is hard to believe that the pope, with all his high-level religious and political advisors, does not understand the significance of that invitation. But even giving him the benefit of the doubt, surely Mr. Peres knows very well.
Just how does he intend to pray, and to whom, as he stands there in the Vatican under a cross? The Torah forbids Jews to even enter a church, just to avoid the possibility of praying there.
Untold numbers of our people over untold generations have died for refusing to do what our president so blithely agrees to here.
Peres can do as he pleases as a private citizen, but not as president of the Jewish State of Israel.DEENA SPIGELMAN
Jerusalem Sir, – In your May 26 front-page photo of President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu greeting the pope at Ben-Gurion Airport, it is worth noting that the pope is the one wearing the yarmulke.GEOFFREY PREGER Caesarea
Sir, – In “Peres, Abbas accept invitation to pray at Vatican” (May 26) you write: “In his carefully choreographed trip, the pontiff has paid respect to significant Palestinian and Israeli symbols and principles.” The security barrier outside Bethlehem was his stage for a “spontaneous” stop for solemn prayer.
How fitting it would have been, in resonance with the Stages of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa, had the pope made 13 stops in a motorcade between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. At each stop he could have made the appropriate prayer – e.g., at one for the mother and child, at the next for the married couple, at the next for the doctor on the way home to his wife and children, and so on – all cold-bloodedly murdered by Palestinians.
At his last stop, the Israeli side of the security barrier, he could have prayed for the success of such structures all over the world in preventing the wanton murder of Jews.
This would have been a true peace message from the leader of the Catholic world.YEHUDA OPPENHEIM Jerusalem
Sir, – I am the father of Tal Kehrmann, murdered on March 5, 2003, in a terror attack on a city bus on her way home from school. She was one of 17 victims killed by a Palestinian student who had made his way through an opening in a fence.
I viewed Pope Francis’s stop at the security barrier in Bethlehem as a time for prayer in memory of Tal and all the people whose killing the wall did not prevent. I also interpreted his stop as a time for prayer for all the lives the barrier has saved.
I hope from the bottom of my heart that the pope succeeds where so many politicians have failed. I ask him to make sure that peace and understanding become the only languages spoken in this region.RON KEHRMANN Haifa
Sir, – Apropos the pope’s visit to the security barrier, Israel should place at its exits and entrances the wrecks from blown-up buses and other vivid evidence of the atrocities that spewed forth from the Palestinian Authority’s territory. This would explain why the barrier had to be erected.
The very people who liken it to the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto are the ones who would continue terrorist outrages if the security barrier did not prevent them. Terrorism flows from within the barrier and into Israel, not the other way around.ALFRED INSELBERG
Ra’anana Sir, – Pope Francis stood by the wall that prevents Arab terrorists from attacking innocent civilians.
Perhaps he thanked God that so many lives had been saved and even wondered what could be done to save the lives of Christians persecuted in the Muslim world.CHARLES OREN Herzliya
Sir, – Obviously, the persecution of Christians by the Palestinian Authority and its Gaza “brothers” was discretely avoided in favor of voicing grievances to His Holiness against Israel.
If anyone is in doubt about the so-called non-politicization promoted by the Vatican during Francis’s brief foray into the Middle East, and the explicitly mournful moments at the separation wall with its anti-Israel Nazi banners, think again! GISH TRUMAN ROBBINS Pardesiya Sir, – I saw photographs of His Holiness on the Temple Mount sporting a papal yarmulke and a fairly large cross. He managed to elude the wrath of the mufti, Wakf Islamic religious trust and the Islamists.
Is this a seed change or paradigm shift? Will we see other Christians allowed to display a cross? Can I and other Jews now venture onto the Temple Mount with a yarmulke and prayer fringes on public display? Will a Star of David adornment be able to be worn with impunity? HARRY ORENSTEIN Elazar Sir, – President Shimon Peres and others should not have welcomed the pope to the “Holy Land.” They should have welcomed him to the “State of Israel in the Land of Israel,” just like David Ben-Gurion declared in declaring Israel’s statehood.DAVID SCHOENFELD Givat Ze’ev
Sir, – So Pope Francis would like nothing more than for Israel and the so-called Palestinians to make peace and establish another Arab country in the strife-torn Middle East. Christians are currently being persecuted, murdered and kidnapped from Kenya to Indonesia, usually by people of the Muslim faith, and he is worried about the so-called Palestinians? This same pope just now finally met with Bartholomew I, the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, in order to heal a 1,000- year rift between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. If the Catholics took 1,000 years to make peace with one of their own sects, then there is no rush to “make peace” with our so-called Palestinian cousins.NORMAN DEROVAN Ma’aleh Adumim
Sir, – It should be clear to all that Pope Francis seems to have his heart in the right place. He often has been praised for expressing sympathy for the Jewish people and for Israel, and remorse and contrition for past suffering at the hands of the Catholic Church. He has condemned the Holocaust on more than one occasion as the ultimate symbol of evil, and he conveyed these feelings long before he assumed the title Vicar of Rome.
But his advisers should have shunned a visit to the security barrier, built to protect us from murderers. This is because, predictably, the Palestinians turned it into an Israel-bashing moment.
Sadly, despite all he has achieved and said, the pope proved to be what Stalin called a “useful idiot.”LOWELL BLACKMAN Givat Shmuel