Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Sydney Morning Herald: Pope visit unites Israel gays, far-right

11 May 2009

Gays, Holocaust survivors and the far-right have all found an unlikely common cause in their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI's landmark visit to Israel.

The Dorot Hemeshech association of survivors of the Nazi Holocaust have called on drivers to blow their horn during the 81-year-old pope's speech at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum on Monday.

"Israelis will express this way their disapproval of the pope who encourages Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism," the association said.

The German-born pontiff has raised the ire of Holocaust survivors over his membership, albeit forced, in the Hitler youth and his move to beatify pope Pius XII who has been accused of not speaking out against the Holocaust.

A group of far-right activists has also said they planned to press criminal charges against the pope over Vatican treasures they claim were plundered from Jewish people over the centuries.

US-born Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir have named Benedict as a leading defendant in a criminal complaint they plan to file before a Jerusalem court on Monday.

The two accuse the pontiff and other top Roman Catholic officials of receiving and possessing stolen goods.

The complaint lists treasure allegedly plundered from the Jewish people and held in the Vatican, including a golden Menorah looted from the Jerusalem Temple by Roman troops under general Titus, who played a major role in the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.

And gay rights activist Nitzan Horowitz, a left-wing MP, said on Sunday he will boycott all official ceremonies held for the pope.

"Pope Benedict XVI is responsible for the suffering of thousands of people in the world... He conveys a message of extremism and insensitivity," Horowitz said, also referring to a papal warning that condom use could be aggravating the AIDS crisis in Africa.

Following a visit to Jordan, the pope is on Monday to begin a five-day pilgrimage to Israel and the Palestinian town of Bethlehem.

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