Chief Islamic Judge of Palestinian Authority attacks Israel & Benedict XVI walks out

I imagined something would happen to create tension.

No surprise that something controversial would happen during the Pope’s trip to the Holy Land, right?

This is in from the Jerusalem Post.

Sheikh attacks Israel, pope walks out

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.

In a meeting with organizations involved in inter-religious dialogue at the Notre Dame Jerusalem Center, Tamimi called upon Muslims and Christians to unite against what he said were the murderous Israelis

Taking the podium after the pope without being on the original list of speakers scheduled for the evening, Tamimi, speaking at length in Arabic, accused Israel of murdering women and children in Gaza and making Palestinians refugees, and declared Jerusalem the eternal Palestinian capital[Yah… that’s irenic.  What a slimy thing to do… take advantage of the Pope’s presence like that.]

Following the diatribe and before the meeting was officially over, the pope exited the premises. Army Radio reported that the pope shook Tamimi’s hand before walking out.

Minutes after the embarrassing occurrence, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, released a response to the incident.

"The intervention of Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi was not previewed by the organizers of the interreligious meeting that took place at Notre Dame Centre in Jerusalem," the message read. "In a meeting dedicated to dialogue, this intervention was a direct negation of what [it] should be," it continued.

"We hope that such an incident will not damage the mission of the Holy Father aiming at promoting peace and interreligious dialogue, as he has clearly affirmed in many occasions in this pilgrimage," Father Lombardi added.

"We hope also that interreligious dialogue in the holy land will not be damaged by this incident," the message concluded.

Nine years ago, Tamimi caused a similar scandal when at an interfaith meeting attended by then-Pope John Paul II at the Notre Dame Jerusalem Center, the Palestinian religious leader condemned Israel for a long list of offenses.  [Why. Was. He. There. … ?]

Never referring to Israel by name, Tamimi had called on ‘the occupier’ to stop ‘strangling Jerusalem and oppressing its residents.

Singling out land confiscations, house demolitions, settlements and the Baruch Goldstein shooting in 1994, Tamimi had said Israel has a long record of ‘genocide’ and ‘shooting and wounding Palestinian children.’

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. chironomo says:

    It’s at least good to know that our POPE has the good sense to walk out of an event when the speakers begin bad-mouthing his country… oops…I mean another country.

    How did a previous troublemaker get on the program with the Pope in attendance? Strange…

  2. Paul Haley says:

    The Pope will continue to be attacked by those with an agenda other than peace…he represents the Prince of Peace while others pay homage to the Prince of this World. But, the Pope is untiring in his efforts towards peace and Thank God for that. May Almighty God protect him on his journey.

  3. Mark says:

    This was no accident. I mean, the same thing happened when JPII was there. They knew. I think it’s our great (and totally un-PC) Holy Father’s way of critiquing the atrocities committed by the Zionists while at the same time being able to distance himself from it. Like the idea that he wants the SSPX to be his “attack dog”. And right while he was IN Israel. It’s incredible. It takes guts. And yet, what can they do? He can deny all knowledge. It’s perfect.

  4. Dear Father Z: With a picture of Pius XII at Yad Vashem and some derogatory remarks below it as whether Pius did enough for the Jews SEVENTY YEARS AGO, I think the correct question is: Why is Pope Benedict there? I am sure he is viewed by many there as a useful foil.

  5. paul says:

    I don’t for a minute believe “this was no accident”. Our Holy Father is a strong leader and he isn’t sneaky in my opinion- which is basically what you are calling our Holy Father. Think about it my friend and pray- whether you know it or not in a way you did insult a very good man.

  6. I have read the discourse of Pope Benedict before the interruption: it is wonderful! A milestone. A manifest, a programme for the future interreligious dialogue, based on reason and common search of the one and only universal truth (not on irenism or syncretism).

  7. Charlotte says:

    Over at American Papist, commenters are saying that this report is misleading. They are saying that Benedict was scheduled to leave at the time he did and that its Zionist propaganda news that is painting this as a picture of Benedict walking out. I’m only offering this info/opinion as part of the wider picture of discussion.

  8. Justin says:

    Errr. Nothing of what this man said is actually wrong. It may not have been the right time and place to say so, but he was completely right. The State of Israel is complicit in its own apartheid, much like South Africa was, of racism against the Arab Christians and Muslims who live within its borders. Israel is complicit in defaming the memory and making a scapegoat out of our beloved Pope Pius XII who did so much for the Jewish people.

    I love our Pope. But sometimes I wish his gentleness would give way to a fearsome tiger and that he would live up to his reputation as a bull-dog. The Pope is too polite to list the atrocities that Israel has committed against his own flock – the persecuted Christians of the Holy Land. Apparently the Muslims feel no such compulsion.

  9. Mark says:

    It’s not an insult. This was a very tactful way to call the Zionists out with creating an international incident. I’m not saying he orchestrated it actively, but surely they knew this guy was coming and passively allowed it. And why not? As Justin says, his criticisms are valid.

  10. Apartheid? Really. Israel is under no obligation to commit suicide by bowing to those who openly proclaim that killing Jews and destroying Israel is their only goal. If Benedict walked out, good for him. The so-called “Palestinians” are terrorists living in a terrorist state; Israel has every right to nuke them out of existence. That they have not is a tribute to their civilization.

    Zionist crimes, indeed. What crap people will believe just to feed their own anti-Semitism.

  11. Brendan says:

    I was watching EWTN on the background and saw the event. I don’t think the Holy Father walked out, the Judge was finished speaking.

  12. Butters Stotch says:

    I assume that the return of Constantinople to the Greeks is right up here with the rest of the demands for “Justice”?

  13. Justin says:

    Apartheid. Yes. And segregation. In Israel there’s one set of rules for Jews and another for Arabs – separate roads, access to land, voting representation. Just look at the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law – one set of rules for Jews and another for Arabs.

  14. shadrach says:


    It is perfectly possible to object to the excesses of Zionism without ever having an anti-Semitic thought or inclination.

  15. Craig says:

    Rightwing prof,

    ‘Israel has every right to nuke them out of existence’

    What a truly disgusting comment to make, such a example of Christian charity. And please dont conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, its a intellectual cop-out.

  16. Jim says:

    Yea, I was excited when I saw the headline, but no this was no protest as noted above. The Holy Father shook the man’s hand before he left-thats not a walk out.

  17. And please dont conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, its a intellectual cop-out.

    No, the cop-out is dividing them; over half the world’s Jews live in Israel. Where would you have them go?

  18. I see people are determined to be knuckle-heads.


    I will act accordingly and lock a few people out.

    Have a great day! o{]:¬)

  19. Vetus Mores says:

    From the get-go, my biggest concern was that the Holy Father’s every cough and gesture on this pilgrimage would be scrutinized and spun unflatteringly. I beg everyone who reads this not to become part of the problem. Granted, this is a legitimate debate, but it’s the wrong context and the wrong (very wrong) venue. We mustn’t give the media, both non-Catholic and secular, ammunition to fire at Holy Mother Church. Instead, we should direct our prayers that the Holy Father’s visit should simply go without incident, and *discuss this elsewhere.*

  20. Mark says:


  21. MVine says:

    Fr. Z, can you please explain to me what the purpose of inter-faith dialogue is supposed to be?

  22. MVine: I am not always sure. I think it depends on the context and people involved.

    However, if take seriously, I think the proximate goal is to help keep people from killing each other.

    Next, for us at least probably to uphold the respect we have for others as images of God. We engage them with respect about the most important questions we human beings face.

    Ultimately, from a Catholic perspective, I think we do this because from charity we want other people to share in the advantages we have as members of the Catholic Church.

  23. Son of Trypho says:

    Extremely embarrasing for Benedict XVI and the other leaders – it wasn’t the correct forum for this type of discussion. Benedict XVI seems to have handled it well all things in all.

  24. PS says:

    French coverage of the thing can be here:

    This all goes down at about 21 minutes in. It’s very clear, in my opinion, that Mark is wrong re this being some sort of planned thing, unless everyone there was in on it. The Pope looks confused and annoyed and quite a lot of those there seemed to react similarly.

    Reuters and Whispers and the Loggia (which looks to have pulled from Reuters) says the event ended as scheduled. In the video, it does appear that the thing ended pretty abruptly (given the speech before Tamimi, it would have made sense if it was meant to end before Tamimi came up).

    It’s worth noting that among the Palestinian leaders, Tamimi is considered to be moderate and that he (as I understand it) would be considered a pretty central figure in any real political or religious dialogue about the future of Israel, Palestine, Judaism and Islam. I think that the event organizers were just taking a calculated (perhaps poorly) risk.

  25. Colm says:

    Well said Justin, what that man said was exactly right.

    And I too do not get the point of inter-faith dialogue. We should try and convert them to the one true Faith, not say that our differences are ok. Could you provide clarification on what it means that “there is no salvation outside the church”? I realize this may not be the correct place for that, since this is not a discussion forum, so I could ask a friend of mine who is a priest instead. Thanks.

  26. PS says:

    And sorry for singling out Mark in my above post. Poor form. Sorry, Mark. There seem to be a lot of people of the opinion that this was orchestrated.

  27. PS says:

    Re: Inter-Religious Dialogue

    Well, I think that the term “dialogue” is a bit loaded. To “unpack” it I think we could say that when Benedict sits down at a table to have some inter-religious dialogue it is not born out of the fallacious notion that such a dialogue would necessitate some sort of syncretic sharing or homoginization; rather, given how our Pope has spoken on the matter in the past, I would guess this has much more to do with what Fr. Z said: a sort of love of the neighbor (and a hope that such sharing would help to “convert the heathen”).

    Furthermore and in a more general sense, I think we lose something if we shut ourselves, as Catholic parishoners (not as a Church… I’ll try to make this distinction in a sec) off from other religions, if only because further understanding of those religions and their particular modern difficulties could not only help us understand how to live our faith but also better understand what our Church is and is not. Finally, there is also the possibility that such a dialogue can help renew and ennervate the Church. After all, the religions in question, and especially the religious figures “at the table” are, to the best of my knowledge, quite orthodox. Coptic hymns, for example, are heavily influenced by Muslim hymnology, but also beautiful, deeply moving, rich and distinctly Coptic things. The important part of dialogue is that the Church (and I trust Benedict entirely in this matter) to retain the integrity of its teachings and tradition. If the tradition can be enriched by such a dialogue, we would all be the better for it. This is, I should note, NOT capitulation or the sort of homoginization that Catholic liberals would like to pull off (the key would be enriching the Church while retaining our Catholic identity, not carving up our identity in the name of compromise). (So the distinction between Church – Mosque dialogue and a dialgue between two people of different faiths is that while the man on the street must adore, cherish and do his utmost to protect his religion, the Magiesterium and God’s love is there should he stumble into syncretism; dialgue between religious institutions must be much more careful, slow and deliberate for the effects of even minor reform can be enormous – which we all should well know).

  28. Colleen says:

    I watched the video clip that PS provided the link for. Does the Pope speak/understand Arabic? Did the Pope even understand what Tamimi was saying at the time?

  29. Mark says:

    The point of “dialogue” is, apparently, the same theory as “democracy”. Talk. Talk talk talk…so that no one will DO, for better or worse.

    Everything becomes neutralized in an endless web of words. As soon as we start talking about an issue, it means we no longer have to believe it is important enough to fight for. It means we’ve put down our swords, and sat at the table of negotiation.

    As soon as we start to “talk”…then we start putting other values, like material happiness in this world, before the Truth of the faith. We dont have to actually accomplish anything in the dialogue, the point is for the talking to keep us preoccupied while the One World Order is built behind our backs. To keep anyone from getting TOO serious about religion because, heck, it’s all just mental masturbation in then end, right? (I’m being sarcastic, but that’s what the proponents of the dialogue think). People can “dialogue” over religion all the want, as long as it keeps them from fighting and messing up the big neoliberal capitalist system.

    We’ve all become incredibly neutered by the endless “discussion” our society has over everything. Civil debate by it’s nature dignifies the other side’s position, but some positions shouldnt be dignified. Unfortunately, it is not idol-worship or baby murder that are denied seats at the table of civil debate, rather it is stuff like holocaust denial and monarchism…

  30. Girgadis says:

    This is a bit off-topic but after reading some of the earlier diatribes,
    I’ll risk Father taking out his red pen on me. If you have any interest at all
    in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, please check out “Promises” by Jewish
    filmmaker B.Z. Goldberg. You may come away with a different view.

    While I think the Pope found himself unwillingly in such an uncomfortable
    situation, it could not have been a total surprise given the volatility of
    the region and past papal visits.

  31. dymphna says:

    I just watched the video on EWTN. I really felt sorry for the pope. I guess the sheikh had to be invited to avoid insult but this whole thing could’ve been avoided by not having the event in the first place. Why risk what could’ve been a very ugly scene? Some of the people in the audience were smirking but others seemed very upset.

  32. Lepanto says:

    “rightwingprof” says:

    “The so-called “Palestinians” are terrorists living in a terrorist state; Israel has every right to nuke them out of existence.”

    This is an incredibly scandalous, and evil comment. No one has a right to nuke any group of people out of existence.

    That is called genocide.

    Out of Christian charity I call on rightwingprof to reflect on the outrageous comments he has made. Any noble love he may have for the Jewish and Israeli people should not morph into complete hatred for our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

  33. There is a quite a lot of congruity between rightwingprof’s Cromwellian delusions and the views of the terrorists he so decries.

  34. David Kastel says:

    ‘rightwingprof’ seems to be a regular reader of the Jerusalem Post and other anti-Arab racist “news” papers. Mass murder is okay as long as it is directed against Arabs and/or Muslims.

    (The official policy of the Vatican, the U.S. government, and the U.N., is that the way to resolve the war in Palestine is through the two state solution, based on the 1967 internationally recognized borders.)

  35. Bern says:

    MVINE: “Fr. Z, can you please explain to me what the purpose of inter-faith dialogue is supposed to be?

    To end the sort of nastiness which sometimes crops up even on Catholic blog comments pages.

  36. TerryC says:

    (The official policy of the Vatican, the U.S. government, and the U.N., is that the way to resolve the war in Palestine is through the two state solution, based on the 1967 internationally recognized borders.)
    While decrying anyone’s support of a line like “nuke them out of existence,” I do have to state that the two state solution requires that both sides be committed to allowing the other state to exist. I believe that sizable percentage of the Israeli population is tolerant of the idea of a Palestinian state, provided it is not used as a weapons platform to attack Israel. I have seen little evidence that a large number, or even a small number of Palestinians have come to terms with the existence of a neighboring Israel. I propose as evidence of my belief the election of Hamas, a terrorist organization which is not supportive of the two state solution.

    Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar did not rule out the possibility of accepting a temporary two-state solution, but also stated that he dreamed “of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it . . . . I hope that our dream to have our independent state on all historic Palestine (will materialize). . . . This dream will become real one day. I’m certain of this because there is no place for the state of Israel on this land”.

Comments are closed.