Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Netanyahu defends security barrier

 

Nour Shamaly/POOL/Flash90

Pope Francis touching the wall that separates Israel from the West Bank on his way to celebrate a mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem, May 25, 2014.

ALGEMEINER-A day after Pope Francis was pictured praying at Israel's security barrier on Sunday, beneath a slogan that compared Palestinians with Jews under the Nazi regime, Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu explained to him in no uncertain terms why the wall was erected in the first place.

At a Jerusalem memorial for terror victims, Netanyahu told the pope, "When my son was 10 years old, his best friend was a girl, a beautiful Ethiopian girl, who sat next to him in class. One day she didn't come. She was blown up in a bus not far from here because there was no fence, no wall."

After the pope responded with prayers for peace and a harsh condemnation of terrorism, Netanyahu elaborated further.

"I'm grateful for your words today. Israel wants peace. Here we have a hospital, Hadassah Hospital. Palestinians come to this hospital. With the wall, they come. We cannot go to their hospitals, they come to our hospitals," he said. "We don't teach our children to plant bombs. We teach them peace. But we have to build a wall against those who teach the other side. But it cannot prevent the incitement to hate and terror and the destruction of Israel that permeates so much of the society on the other side of the fence. If that changes, then the walls could come down and we will have peace."

The pope's unscheduled visit to the security barrier on Sunday drew harsh criticism, especially as a result of the imagery that emerged from the trip showing the pope in the same frame as graffiti that read, "Bethlehem look like Warsaw Ghetto."

Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center said 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 on Sunday.

Popular commentator Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote, "When the pope prays at an Israeli security barrier in front of graffiti that compares Bethlehem to the Warsaw Ghetto, he has taken neutrality to an extreme and risks being party to trivializing the Holocaust."

Citing the pope's wall visit among other examples, pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon said that the "Arabs are politicizing this trip to the hilt."

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.

 

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