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An open letter to Caroline Glick about the Pope's visit
 
 
Dear Caroline Glick,
 
It is with diffidence that I venture to criticize the award-winning erudite and widely read Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post
 
Much as I appreciate your very cogent analyses of Israeli politics, I have difficulty with some of what I consider to be your counterproductive content. I hope you will forgive me for being as frank in this piece, as you are with others in your hard-hitting articles. In all sincerity, I believe that some of your "extreme" statements and ad hominem attacks discourage many from reading the really worthwhile thought-provoking content you often provide.
 
I will use your May 27 article in the Jerusalem Post on the Pope's visit as an example. 
 
The headline "Pope Francis’s unfriendly visit" may be eye catching, but it is far from accurate. To the contrary, as described by Rabbi David Rosen AJC’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs, in an oped in the Jewish daily Forward, 
"The Pope’s visit reinforced the bonds between Jews and Catholics" and "Francis intentionally used his visit to Israel to reiterate the Church’s special bonds with Judaism and the Jewish People. Not only did he state this explicitly at the meeting with Jewish religious leaders at Hechal Shlomo, but it was also powerfully reflected at the impressive event hosted by President Shimon Peres. 
A great example of how to turn friends into enemies is your misleading statement 
"Alas, the Golden Age of Catholic-Jewish relations seem to have come to an end during Francis’s visit to the Promised Land this week". 
To the contrary, as stated by Rabbi Rosen in an interview with Vatican Insider in September last year, there has never been a Pope with as deep an understanding of Jews as Pope Francis. He has not only nurtured lifelong friendships with the Jewish community in Buenos Aires, with whom he has had “a vibrant interaction but has co-authored a book with Argentinean Rabbi Abraham Skorka. 
 
Implying a spurious correlation between Pope Francis and the noxious anti-Israelincitement rampant in Europe and the murderous shooting attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels is not only misleading it is objectionable. So too is the unjustified claim that the Catholic Church stayed out of the campaign to dehumanize Jews and malign the Jewish state until the week of the Pope' visit, implying a causality that just isn't there. 
 
Regarding the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jews, Rabbi Rosen acknowledges that while the major theological issues of the past have been mainly addressed, and although the discussion can never be exhausted, the Jewish side is now focused on practical things to be accomplished together.
 
Above all there is an enormous educational challenge. The Church could do so much in educational terms in regard to how Jesus and his contemporary Jewish brothers, followers and opponents are presented (or not presented) in sermons in many places especially at Easter time. Perhaps this is substantially a consequence of historical power, but the Church is the one here with the most terrible tragic record. It is a record that still has to be addressed. In truth, it has already been addressed, but the problem is that not everyone in the Church knows this yet! The important point is that none of this has anything to do with the Pope's recent visit as implied by you.
 
And one must ask why create controversies about innocuous friendly incidents? You create the impression that when Netanyahu mentioned that Jesus spoke Hebrew, Francis "couldn’t take the truth" and indelicately interjected "Aramaic" causing Netanyahu to become flustered. You even referred to what you imagine was the Pope's rudeness creating an impression of tension that was contradicted by the very apparent convivial spirit that was obvious to all observers. 
 
The above is far from the truth according to an observer who was present who says that Netanyahu was not at all flustered. Every one who was there with PM Netanyahu and Pope Francis can tell you that this was good hearted banter with a smile. It was not a discussion over whether Jesus knew Hebrew but what language he actually spoke on a daily basis. 
 
And you were evidently mistaken in writing that Netanyahu was correct in stating that Jesus spoke Hebrew arguing that educated Jews spoke and wrote in Aramaic and that although Jesus was educated, he preached in Hebrew, the language of the people. Britannica says the opposite and that far from being "unable to take the truth" the Pope was correct. It states that among the Jews, Aramaic was used by the common people, while Hebrew remained the language of religion and government and of the upper class. As Pope Francis said and Britannic confirms, Jesus and the Apostles arebelieved to have spoken Aramaic.
 
In a paper titled "What language has been in continuous use for at least 3000years?" 
 
Dr Sebastian Brock of the faculty of Oriental studies at Oxford University also confirms the Pope's view. He wrote "Indeed, in many cases it will only be because Aramaic happened to be the language spoken by Jesus that some people are even aware of the very existence of Aramaic". 
 
But you do raise some important relevant questions which should be asked in civil discourse and which would receive more attention if the unnecessary fiery rhetoric were omitted from your column.
 
Yes it is, for example, fair and reasonable to question the Pope's embrace of the mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammed Hussein who has been condemned by the US and the EU for calling for the annihilation of Jews in the name of Islam and who, as recently as 2012, said it was the destiny of Muslims to kill Jews, who he claims, are subhuman beasts and the enemies of Allah. Yes it is highly relevant to ask for an explanation for Pope Francis' calling the mufti and his associate's "dear brothers" despite their praise of suicide bombers claiming that their souls tell us to follow in their path. 
 
Ms. Glick you have a world wide readership, but I fear that it comprises mainly people who look to you to confirm their firm political outlooks. This is a pity, because the people who really need to learn the important facts that you are able to provide, don't get past your headlines or at best the first paragraph because they are turned off by the strident tone. Please share your wealth of knowledge about Mideast affairs and your thought-provoking analyses by providing us with more straightforward information about the issues without the provocative emotional arguments and ad hominem attacks. 
 
I hope you will accept this letter in the constructive spirit intended and that I may look 
 
forward to a considered response which will be publicized as will this letter.
 
Sincerely
Maurice Ostroff 
 
 
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