While his public statements of compassion for marginalized groups have earned Pope Francis the respect of many, the Holy See’s diplomatic recognition of the Palestinian Authority as the “state of Palestine” in June ignited the fury of rabbis with links to the Israeli government, army and academia.
On 9 September, a group calling itself the “Nascent Sanhedrin” (a
reconstituted council of Jewish sages) held court in Jerusalem and accused the pontiff and other world leaders of crimes against the Jewish people.
Speaking to a crowd of about 40 men and a handful of women at the Diaspora Yeshiva seminary in the Old City of Jerusalem, the leaders of the Sanhedrin gave a series of speeches excoriating Pope Francis, US President Barack Obama, the European Union, the United Nations and other international bodies for not supporting Israel’s claims to “exclusive patrimony” over all of historic Palestine.
For three hours, the rabbis oscillated between accusing world leaders
of plotting genocide against the Jewish people, and themselves calling
for Jews to commit genocide against Muslims, Christians and other
The most extreme statements of the afternoon came from the head of
this Sanhedrin, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, who claimed that according to the
12th century Jewish sage Maimonides, the Jewish people are commanded to
kill non-Jewish people who do not agree to abandon Christianity and
Islam and be governed by Jewish law.
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