Bibi and Francis, an odd couple

"Accompanied by his wife Sara, Netanyahu gave the Pope a copy of a book about the Spanish inquisition written by his father, a prominent historian, bearing the inscription: “To His Holiness Pope Francis, great guardian of our common heritage.” Francis presented Netanyahu with a carved panel of Saint Paul, Haaretz reports. Sara Netanyahu told the Pope at the end of the meeting, “We are expecting you, we can’t wait.” The meeting comes after the Pope, citing a full schedule, declined to meet with Netanyahu in October, fueling speculation in Israeli media of a pontifical snub."  Time


IMO, "passive-aggressive" would be a good description of the behavior here on both sides.  Francis gave Bibi a plaque commemorating St. Paul who was a Roman citizen and a Jew and Bibi presented a Spanish translation of his father's major book on the Spanish Inquisition and the RC Church's inherent responsibility for what the Spanish government did.

Having said that both gifts were not really friendly, IMO Bibi's "gift" is truly representative of his attitude towards the larger world and toward gentiles in general.

The message is clear. – We are long oppressed and YOU, all of you, cannot be trusted . This includes the US, actually it is especially about the US because American support sustains Israel's existence.  Therefore we must dominate your political process and culture to force you to do what we need.  This is illegal?   So what.? You do it to other countries.  Your collective guilt requires your acquiescence.  pl

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16 Responses to Bibi and Francis, an odd couple

  1. nick b says:

    Col., We’ve seen Mr. Netanyahu in action for a while now. His actions and gift seem in character. The new addition to the equation is Pope Francis. What did his gift say? Was it perhaps inscribed with Philippians 3:2-7? I like this Pope, he’s full of surprises.

  2. crf says:

    It’s hardly necessary to try to divine Netanyahu’s feelings towards the world by looking for hidden messages in his gifts. His actions are more telling. (And passive-aggressive? He’s straight up aggressive.)
    Also, this Pope is the most plain-spoken Pope I’ve noticed (I am in my thirties). I say he’s not one for subtle messaging either. Maybe to him, a carving is just a carving. (Benedict would be another story.)

  3. Genius The Twisted says:

    I would love to be privy to the conversations between Pope Francis and his old friend, Rabbi Skorka,about Netanyahu. The Pope undoubtedly understands much more about Judaism than Netanyahu knows about Christianity. I don’t know why they are so eager for the Pope to visit Israel. He’s bound to say a lot of things that make the Likudniks squirm.

  4. Tony says:

    I am surprised that arrogant Bibi did not lecture the Pope on Christianity.

  5. turcopolier says:

    Unless they use nuclear weapons Israel lacks the means to inflict significant damage on Iran. that is why they want us to do it. pl

  6. North says:

    Even if they /by “they” I mean the far right fanatics at both sides of the ocean/ use NCW, the only thing “they” will achieve is prolonged agony of the most disgusting regime ever /a truly deserved under such circumstances status/ and guaranteed destruction of Israel /it will become habit. but hey, what was the saying about the fools repeating their mistakes?!/.

  7. nick b says:

    While poking around for more info on the Pope’s gift I found what might be a more gracious explanation. Prior to becoming Pope Francis, Cardinal Bergoglio had gone to Jerusalem to study the letters of St. Paul to the Corinthians. Perhaps Pope Francis feels a personal connection to Jerusalem through St. Paul, which was expressed by his gift.

  8. turcopolier says:

    nick b
    Your explanation and mine are not incompatible. pl

  9. Margaret Steinfels says:

    Many Catholics (of my acquaintance, which is to say U.S. Catholics) seem to equate the Catholic-Jewish relationship with the Catholic-Israel relationship. The Collective Guilt, PL refers to seems to have fallen on them. Why?

  10. nick b says:


  11. confusedponderer says:

    And if they used nukes, the human toll would be appalling.
    A ground level strike at Natanz or Parchen would result in serious fallout. Both sites are in the vicinity of cities. Considering that Iran has a strong concentration of population in the cities, owing to the scarcity of water generally, that would result in a lot of radiation sickness beyond the blast zone if the fallout came along a city.
    And if the Israelis went against cities … I don’t have the study at my fingertips, but iirc it went along the lines that with five Hiroshima sized nukes on Tehran we’d be speaking of up to 85% casualties in a city of 8 million people, including people who’d die from lack of medical care, especially from untreated burns. I’ll post the study later.
    That be a holocaust in an instant. And for what?
    The Israelis are aware that, in the absensce of an Iranian first strike, they could not possibly justify the use or spin it into self defence.
    US and EU support would collapse. They’d be pariah’s right there with North Korea, with the dubious distinction of being more violent and murderous.
    For the Israelis nukes are simply too lethal and thus too blunt a tool to use, short of national survival, or the eventual complete insanity of Bibi and his merry goons.
    In essence, in their opposition to Iran’s nuclear program Israel’s nukes are simply not useful as a tool to leverage Iranian submission on the matter. And that is indeed why they want anybody else to attack Iran, because they can’t do it at a reasonable price.
    The tragic thing is that in light of Israel’s existing capability to essentially wipe out Iranian civilisation in a flash, and in light of Israel’s persistrent threats, Iran’s best insurance would be nukes. They are indeed the only reliable deterrent around to postures like the Israeli one.

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The pope meets Iranian president – 1998
    “There was also a ritual exchange of gifts: A painting of Sts. Peter and Paul for the president; a Persian rug depicting St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice for the pope.
    Khatami said he’d pray for the pope – and asked John Paul to pray for him.”

  13. confusedponderer says:

    Here’s the report: “Nuclear war between Israel and Iran: lethality beyond the pale”
    The report makes the assumption that Iran actually does have nukes.

  14. Bill says:

    Hmm. Bibi’s gift to the Pope was clearly unfriendly, but the Pope’s? It was more subtle. St. Paul was the Apostotle to the gentiles, the key figure in turning Christianity from a Jewish sect into a separate religion. Bibi’s gift to the Pope said: you are the enemy and you owe us reparations. The Pope’s gift to Bibi said: you are not us, and we are not you. That’s not a loving embrace, but is it an unfriendly message? The underlying message, that Christianity and Judaism are separate, is surely one Bibi would endorse.

  15. Medicine Man says:

    I remain amazed at how unsubtle Bibi is. He doesn’t seem to care what kind of image he presents to other world leaders or perhaps that lack of concern is the image he’s trying to present (or he’s crazy).

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