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JERUSALEM -- The mufti of Jerusalem, who is scheduled to meet with Pope John Paul II on Sunday March 26, said on March 25, 2000 that he was fed up with "the way Israel uses the Holocaust to win sympathy" and to avoid international censure for its behavior toward the Palestinians.
Sheik Ikrima Sabri, the chief Islamic cleric of the city, who was appointed in 1994 by Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, minced no words in an interview. All week, with the international media in town, he has availed himself quite stridently of the public stage that he has been granted by being on the pope's interfaith itinerary. He has made no attempt to temper his strong views.
Sheik Sabri said today that he believed that the number of 6 million Holocaust victims is exaggerated. He said Israel demonstrated this week, when it "took even the pope" to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, that "it considers its pain more important than anyone else's."
"There have been many massacres in the world," Sheik Sabri, 56, said. "Why is this Holocaust in particular more important?" he asked. "When it comes to our cause, nobody pays attention -- whether it is the Crusader massacres against Muslims or the massacres against Palestinians committed by Israelis. And we don't keep using and using these massacres to remind the world what we are owed."
"I never deny that the Holocaust happened, but we believe the number of 6 million is exaggerated," he continued.
"The Jews are using this issue, in many ways, also to blackmail the Germans financially. The Holocaust is the reason that there isn't a bigger noise against Israel as an occupying force. The Holocaust is protecting Israel."
The words clashed starkly with the pope's message of reconciliation, and particularly his conclusive embrace this week of the enormity of the Holocaust. This embrace included an emphatic rejection of denial or minimization of the Holocaust.
But the mufti, unlike the Palestinian political leaders, has not acceded to the pope's agenda here, which includes interfaith healing. He refused to attend the pope's interfaith gathering on Thursday, where there were verbal clashes over the status of Jerusalem between Israel's chief rabbis and the lower-level Muslim cleric who was assigned by Mr. Arafat to go in the sheik's place.
This puts the pope in a very awkward situation. While he has successfully remained above the fray so far, it might be difficult if the mufti makes such remarks in his presence on Sunday.
Vatican spokesmen said today, after similar comments were published in La Repubblica in Italy, that the pope's schedule would not change, but that they might add a briefing after the morning meeting. "It's certainly not our fault if Hitler hated the Jews," the mufti was quoted as saying in the Italian newspaper. "Weren't they hated pretty much everywhere?"
Sheik Sabri also said he believed that Israel was creating a tense atmosphere in the Old City in advance of Sunday's meeting with the pope.
With stringent security measures, including ordering Palestinian shops in the area closed, the Israeli police could be provoking violence, he said. He said he would not be surprised if youths resorted to stone-throwing "because they are being provoked."
He said his message to the pope would be, "You are a man of peace, and in order for this city to enjoy peace, the occupation should end and you should stand with us."
He added: "The visit of the pope opens the door for the whole world to pay attention to what's going on in the Holy Land, the reality on the ground. This week the Israeli media cannot monopolize the flow of information. The whole world is here to see."
Rabbi David Rosen, director of the Anti-Defamation League here, said Israel would look to Mr. Arafat to distance himself from the mufti's remarks. "It's very sad that the highest Muslim official in Jerusalem sullies the name of Islam," he said.
Source: NY Times, March 26, 2000
Michael A. Hoffman II comments: Actually, the Mufti is naive. The Pope is not a man of peace. If he were he would have spent his Israeli pilgrimage in the Palestinian ghettos of Gaza and the West bank and in the Palestinian refugee camps, helping to stop a holocaust that is taking place now--the Israeli holocaust against Palestinians. Instead the Pontiff made a brief visit to one camp which the world media virtually ignored,and then went crawling to Yad Vashem and the fraudulent "Wailing Wall" (which is not a remnant of the Second Temple since Christ said no stone of the Temple would be left standing; cf. Matthew 24: 1-2).
The Mufti has spoken a forbidden truth concerning the selective indignation of the western media and governments which basically ingore all other holocausts to focus obsessively on a half-century old persecution of the Khazars (so-called "Jews") in Germany. The so-called "Holocaust" is used to blackmail Germans into keeping "reparations money" flowing ceaselessly into Israeli war machine coffers and to excuse and distract attention away from the Israeli dispossession of the native people of Palestine.
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