Survivor group: 'Honk your horn to protest pope'

Group urges drivers to demonstrate against Yad Vashem visit; Meretz MK to boycott papal activities.

pope for image slot 248 (photo credit: )
pope for image slot 248
(photo credit: )
Israeli drivers on Sunday were urged to honk their horns in protest of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Yad Vashem. The Generation to Generation-Bearers of the Holocaust and Heroism Legacy organization issued the call for Israelis to carry out the protest on Monday at 6 p.m., when the pope is due to begin delivering his speech at the Holocaust museum. "With a short honk, Israeli citizens across the country will express their disgust for the visit of the pope who encourages Holocaust deniers and displays of anti-Semitism," read a statement from the group on Sunday. The organization cited the pope's call to the international community to attend Durban II, where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust, was a guest of honor, and the Vatican delegates' continued presence in the hall during Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel speech. It also referred to the pope's initial decision last December to lift the excommunication from the Catholic Church of Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson, and Benedict's conclusion of the canonization of World War II Pope Pius XII, who Jews and others say failed to do all he could to stop the extermination of European Jews. Members of the organization called on the government to "stop ignoring" all the above and insisted that on his visit to Israel, the pope make an "unambiguous declaration" of his absolute opposition to Holocaust denial and his desire to restore the atmosphere of appeasement that began between the Church and Jews in the era of the last pope, John Paul II, after years of thorny relations following the Holocaust. On a visit to Jordan's Mount Nevo on Saturday, Benedict said that his visit to the Middle East was a reminder of the "inseparable bond" between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people. Also Sunday, Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz announced that he would boycott all the events in which the pope participates. "The pope bears responsibility for the suffering of many people. The influential guest arriving here this week is one of the most strident of church conservatives. The message he brings, as a supreme religious leader, one who, according to Catholics is incapable of error, is not a message of compassion, understanding or tolerance," Horowitz said. Horowitz explained that in his opinion, the pope bears a message of "rigidness, religious extremism and imperviousness. Of all the pope's injustices, the worst is his objection to disseminating contraceptives in Third World countries. It's hard to assess how many miserable men and women in Africa, Asia and South America have contracted AIDS because of this Philistine attitude, but we are talking about many." The liberal former TV personality and openly homosexual member of Knesset added that "Benedict XVI is exploiting his stature to seed disunity in the world. His heart remains frozen in the face of the suffering brought about by his decisions. We should not rejoice in his coming here." Several days ago, some activists from the opposite side of the political spectrum convened at the initiative of Michael Ben Ari (National Union) in an effort to decide on steps to take in protest of the pope's arrival. They called the pope an "anti-Semite," "little criminal" and "enemy of the Jewish people." The right-wing activists planned to ask the Chief Rabbinate to demand that the pope apologize for crimes committed by Christians against Jews over the course of history and to promise that no missionary activity would be carried out on Jews. During their meeting, the activists presented a long list of atrocities they said were committed by the papacy or its name against Jews, from the Durban conference through the Holocaust and even as far back as the Spanish inquisition and the crusades.