Pope Francis Arrives in the Holy Land

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1. Pope Francis arrived in the Holy Land. See below for the news, the views, and, of course, the Palestinian spin.

2. A joint Israeli-Palestinian probe is investigating the  Nakba Day shooting in Beitunia, reports the Israel HaYom:

A Palestinian official said, “In Ramallah, they are prepared to dig the bodies out of their graves so that international organizations can run tests that prove the two were killed by IDF fire.”

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3. This is twisted: First, Mahmoud Abbas gave a Q&A with Israeli reporter Avi Issacharoff — who was nearly lynched by Palestinians on Nakba Day — condemning the assault. Then Palestinian journalists criticized Abbas for condemning the attack. Remember Fadi Arouri?

I’m against Abbas receiving him and apologizing to him [for the attack],” Arouri, who works for the Chinese news agency Xinhua told the Ramallah-based Wattan TV. “He [Issacharoff] is the one who should apologize to Palestinian journalists for involving them in this case.”

Arouri, who is also a leading “anti-normalization” activist in Ramallah, said that Abbas’s advisors should have instead condemned “continued assaults on Palestinian journalists [by the IDF].”

4. Score One for the Palestinian Papal Propaganda Machine: Jesus depicted as Palestinian at pope’s Bethlehem mass.

5. Soros’ SodaStream Stake Riles BDS Bullies: Billionaire George Soros expresses disdain for BDS with his wallet.

6. The Monster in the Middle East: Thousands of people are learning how to take action when the media portrays Israel as a monster. Be sure to share this with your friends.

Pope Francis in the Holy Land

Islamists were out in Bethlehem reminding local Christians who’s in charge. The Sunday Times of London describes the brazen intimidation:

Controversy threatens to overshadow the Pope’s visit to Bethlehem today where he will discover the plight of a dwindling Christian community that feels intimidated by its Muslim neighbours.

“I feel like I don’t live in a Christian place any more,” said Samir, the owner of a shop selling Orthodox icons, after he was confronted by a group of Muslims in Manger Square earlier this month.

The group, dressed in white tunics, had been standing a few yards from the entrance to the Church of the Nativity and handing out copies of the Koran. They called on Christian worshippers to pray to Allah instead.

Samir is one of many to associate such incidents with the appearance of al-Qaeda-linked groups preaching a militant version of Islam in the West Bank. “They will fire us from our own country,” he said bitterly.

• Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas accepted Pope Francis’ invitation to visit the Vatican together next month to pray for peace.

• After Pope Francis made an impromptu stop at the security barrier, you knew that lead paragraphs like this (by Ruth Pollard of the Sydney Morning Herald) wouldn’t be long in coming:

Standing beneath an Israeli watchtower, the separation wall looming over him, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics reached out and touched the metres-high concrete barrier that has become a symbol of repression to Palestinians throughout their divided state.

A separate Herald dispatch on the security barrier’s impact on Bethlehem Christians is awfully imbalanced: It’s chock full of Palestinian quotes, while never acknowledging why Israel put it up in the first place — except for Pollard’s throwaway line:

The wall – which Israel says is vital to its security – is a constant in Palestinians’ lives . . .

 Tweet of the day:

Daniel Gordis

Israel and the Vatican are engaged in a tug of war of sorts over the Tomb of David and the adjacent Cenacle. McClatchy News and Danny Rubinstein take a closer look.

• Time gave a soapbox to Naim Ateek, an Anglican priest who is the founder of “Palestinian liberation theology” and the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center. Gives new meaning to what’s called the “halo effect” where reporters unquestioningly report statements from “highly respected” figures without fact checking or any sense of healthy skepticism:

“I would hope that the Pope will show great courage to speak against the injustice of the Palestinians, that he will speak against the occupation,” Ateek says. “I mean if he will just talk about the occupation, it will reflect the prophetic stance.”

On the next page:

  • New footage of Nakba Day shooting emerges, but what does it prove?
  •  Hamas: We’ll use unity to move terror to the West Bank.
  • Who gunned down the leader of Sinai’s biggest jihadi group?

Continued on page 2

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