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How the Vatican Championed the PLO and Coerced Israel to Recognize It

* Seven news reports, with key points highlighted

* Analyses by Jared Israel.

Why, in 1982, did the pope save Yasar Arafat from the jaws of political disaster and herald him as a great leader of the oppressed?  Why, since at least as far back as 1982, has the Vatican made the creation of another Arab state, right on Israel's border, and led by the most extreme, anti-Jewish faction, a central point of Catholic church diplomacy and propaganda?

[Posted July 17, 2006, updated March 13, 2008]


Table of Contents

by Jared Israel

I. August 1982 - "PLO Forces Start Exodus from Beirut; 400 Arrive In Cyprus"
The Washington Post

II.  September 1982 - "Vatican Says John Paul Wants To Meet Guerrilla Leader [Arafat]"
Associated Press

Comments #1 and #2 by Jared Israel

III. September 1982 - Bitter Exchange between Israel and the Vatican over the Pope's Proposed Audience for Arafat
Associated Press
(The title is mine; as is often the case with AP, their dispatch has none. - J.I.]

IV. October 1982 - "Vatican Aide Defends Pope's Meeting with Arafat"
New York Times
Summary: An American Jewish leader says the pope has legitimized a murderer; the Vatican says the pope is furthering peace; the Jewish leader expresses despair at this response, saying it casts doubt on the rapprochement between the Catholic church and Jews.

Comments #3 and #4 by Jared Israel

V. March 1991 - "United States Must Negotiate with PLO Says Arafat"
IPS-Inter Press Service
Summary: Arafat praises John Paul II for refusing to recognize Israel absent the creation of a Palestinian Arab state.

Comment #5 by Jared Israel: what was the Vatican's motivation for their extraordinary policy?

VI. December 1993 - "Israel-PLO Accord Leads to Ties with Vatican"
Associated Press
Summary: Israel's about-face, making the PLO its 'peace partner,' was the Vatican's prerequisite for recognizing the Jewish state, 45 years after Israel won its war of independence. Given the terms, Vatican recognition was a defeat for Israel.

Comment #6 by Jared Israel

VII. October 1994 - Vatican gives the PLO an office in the Holy See


by Jared Israel

Below are seven news reports providing an historical overview of the much-neglected (or perhaps I should say, much-avoided) matter of Vatican relations with the PLO, and its relations with Israel in regard to the PLO, from 1982, when the pope embraced Yasser Arafat, until 1994, when the Vatican gave the PLO its own office in the Vatican.

In reading these news reports it is crucial to guard against the tendency we all have, to view the past through the distorting lens of the present.  It is true that during the latter half of the 1990s, the PLO was widely regarded as a formerly terrorist organization. And as head of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat was viewed as the chief of the precursor of a possible future state.

However, this was not the case in 1982, when the Vatican took the most unusual step of publicly announcing that the pope would like to meet with Arafat - in other words, the pope was asking for a meeting!

"The Rev. Romeo Panciroli, Vatican press officer, said John Paul 'was disposed to meet Yasser Arafat ... regarding the sufferings and rights of the Palestinian people of which the pope has spoken recently.'"
(NOTE: the ellipsis is present in the AP dispatch.)

"Vatican Says John Paul Wants To Meet Guerrilla Leader," The Associated Press, September 11, 1982, Saturday, AM cycle, International News, 298 words, Vatican City

At that time, not only was Arafat widely viewed as a terrorist, but the Israeli army had driven his PLO from Lebanon. (This is discussed in the first news report, "PLO Forces Start Exodus from Beirut; 400 Arrive In Cyprus.")

By warmly welcoming Arafat, the pope did the PLO and its Arab League sponsor a tremendous service.  Here is why. 

Following the Israeli army's rout of Arab League forces in the Six Days War in 1967, and especially after the League's defeat in 1973, the Arab League changed its strategy. The old strategy was to rely on the armed forces of the Arab states, especially Egypt, to invade and destroy Israel. The problem was that a) each time they went to war, Israel won and b) the open attempts to destroy Israel, in 1948, 1967 and 1973 created a public image of spunky little Israel beset by homicidal bullies.

The new strategy was two-fold.

First, the League would rely on the PLO (which the League sponsored), now including and led by Arafat's Fateh, to wear Israel down through constant, low-intensity terrorist attacks.

Second, the League would mount a propaganda war, demanding that Israel 'return' a supposed 'Palestinian state' located in the West Bank and Gaza strip. Returning said 'Palestinian state' was a more-than-human task since, before Israel won control of these territories during the 1967 war, they were not part of a 'Palestinian state.'  Rather, Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and Jordan controlled the West Bank.  The local populations lived, at best, under the despotic conditions of ordinary people in Egypt and Jordan, with few rights and none as 'Palestinians.' Regarding the two 'Palestinian' organizations, the PLO and Fateh, the original PLO charter explicitly rejected any claims to the West Bank and Gaza:


And the Fateh constitution declared:

"Article (27) "FATEH" does not interfere with local Arab affairs and hence, does not tolerate such interference or obstructing its struggle by any party."
-- "Fateh Constitutionm"

In 1965, when this constitution was adopted, Fateh was operating under Syrian sponsorship out of the West Bank. Since the West Bank was then part of Jordan, and since its constitution committed Fateh not to interfere with local Arab affairs, it follows that Fateh was not then demanding that the West Bank be part of a 'Palestinian' state.

So, after 1967, the Arabs demanded that Israel 'return' to the so-called Palestinians two territories that nobody had claimed were theirs before the 1967 war.  Indeed, no matter how far back one goes in history, one will find no record of any 'Palestinian state' on any territory at any time, unless one means by 'Palestine' ancient or modern Israel, or perhaps Jordan, an entity Britain created out of most of the territory on which, under the so-called Palestine Mandate of the League of Nations, Britain was supposed to create a Jewish homeland.  (The word 'Palestine' derives from 'Philistine,'  which is the name the Romans gave to ancient Israel in order to mock the Jews after committing genocide against them in the first century.)

An telling historical reference: in Mein Kampf, in attempting to discredit Zionism, Hitler did not argue that the Jews were evil for trying to establish a state on the territory of some other people's 'Palestinian homeland.' Quite the contrary, he argued that there never would be a Palestinian state - because the Jews, being nothing but parasites, were not serious about forming one:

"For while Zionism tries to make the other part of the world believe that the national self- consciousness of the Jew finds satisfaction in the creation of a Palestinian State, the Jews again most slyly dupe the stupid goyim. [Jewish colloquial expression: Gentile men or women. - Note from translator ] They have no thought of building up a Jewish State in Palestine, so that they might perhaps inhabit it, but they only want a central organization of their international world cheating, endowed with prerogatives, withdrawn from the seizure of others: a refuge for convicted rascals and a high school for future rogues."

- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf,  Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1941, pp. 447-8

The fact that no identifiable 'Palestinian people' has ever had a state; the fact that neither the PLO nor Fateh demanded the creation of one that would include the West Bank and Gaza Strip before 1967; and the fact that the PLO was born as a wholly-sponsored subsidiary of the Arab League, while Fateh had Syria as its daddy, or perhaps one should say, 'sugar daddy'; meaning that the parents of these two groups were some of the most socially reactionary and politically anti-democratic states on planet earth (there may be worse elsewhere; one never knows) - none of these facts hindered the anti-Israel propaganda campaign, in which Israel was depicted as a creation of western colonialism (a lie), stealing the homeland of an oppressed people by force of arms, and so on.

This strategy worked well until 1982 when, driven to take action by the PLO's endless terrorist attacks, Israel invaded Lebanon, engaged the PLO, and was in the process of completely destroying it, when the US intervened and, with French assistance, evacuated the PLO from Lebanon.

This was clearly a turning point.  True, up until then the Arab strategy of superimposing the image of a Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict had been effective, especially with the help of the 'Zionism-is-Racism' propaganda campaign launched by the Arab states, supported by the Socialist and Non-Aligned blocs in the UN. Many people perceived the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as remnants of a dispersed and suffering nation: a kind of mirrored antidote to the Jews, allowing the sympathy for Jews, born in the minds of decent in response to the Holocaust, to be transferred to the very Arabs who were to be used to finish Hitler's work.

But at the same time, many still considered Arafat and the PLO to be ruthless terrorists, committed to the destruction of Israel. Many governments, especially European governments, kept the PLO at a distance. And militarily, Arafat had lost;  not only lost, but had to be rescued by, of all the worst possible rescuers, the USA. After all, according to PLO propaganda, the USA was the great evil, in one sense worse than Israel because it supposedly made Israel possible.  And here it was, making the PLO possible.  Here was Arafat, with all his posturing about fighting imperialism, with all his boasts about the Mighty People Waging Invincible War Against the Zionists and their  Imperialist backers, etc., being rescued by imperialists - very big ones - the USA and France. Floating away in boats. Thus, succored in the belly of the beast. (Actually, while the operation was organized by the USA, the boats were French. So, credit where credit is due: Arafat's Mighty People floated off dans le ventre de la bÍte.) Absent some miracle, la guerre etait fini.

Enter the Vatican, avec le miracle. Preserving the war.

Three weeks after the PLO was routed, the Vatican publicly announced that the pope wanted to meet Arafat "regarding the sufferings and rights of the Palestinian people." Notice that the Vatican did not announce a meeting with Arafat; it publicly requested one, thus striking an unusually humble stance regarding Arafat.

In one fell swoop, the Vatican turned Arafat's rout into victory. After all, Christianity is based on the idea of redemption through the suffering and resurrection of a defeated king, and here was Arafat, cast, the way the Arab League needed him cast, as the Jesus figure in a Vatican passion play. (Of course, as in all Christian passion plays, the Jews who rejected this divine fellow were the villains, cursed in the eyes of God.)

As you will see from the reports below, Israeli politicians and Jewish leaders were furious, and with cause. The Vatican's public invitation to Arafat and open disdain for Israeli objections had to have - and did have - a huge impact on Western Europe, in which France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Ireland, and Belgium had Catholic majorities, and Germany and the UK had large and highly influential Catholic minorities and establishments. A huge impact on these countries; on Catholic populations everywhere (since the pope is infallible); and of course on Israel, which from 1982 on had to deal with relentless Vatican pressure to accept the PLO, and had to deal with the changed international climate, created by the Vatican's stance. 

As one of the news reports below states, in 1991 Arafat thanked the pope for making recognition of Israel conditional on the creation of a 'Palestinian state,' and, as another report states, in 1993 Israel's acceptance of the PLO was the publicly announced precondition for Vatican recognition of Israel.

Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes


I. August 1982

"PLO Forces Start Exodus from Beirut; 400 Arrive In Cyprus"

The Washington Post,  21 August 1982

Note: I include this first news report to establish a crucial point of timing: that Arafat had been routed, with his forces beginning their forced departure from Lebanon, just three weeks before the pope extended his hand. The subsequent news reports, II  III  IV V VI and VII, are shorter, but include much more of significance.
- Jared Israel, TENC


"PLO Forces Start Exodus From Beirut; 400 Arrive In Cyprus," The Washington Post, August 22, 1982, Sunday, Final Edition, First Section; A1, 1421 words, By Leon Dash, Washington Post Foreign Service, BEIRUT, Aug. 21, 1982

About 400 Palestinian guerrillas sailed from this port today as their comrades saluted them with volleys of gunfire that echoed throughout the harbor. It was the start of a 14-day evacuation of thousands of Palestinian and Syrian fighters from this war-battered capital.

The ferry carrying the guerrillas steamed to the port of Larnaca in Cyprus, where the fighters clambered off Sunday morning waving rifles and chanting "Force Until Victory," Reuter reported.

The evacuees were scheduled to proceed in a bus convoy to the airport later in the day to take planes to their final destinations in Jordan and Iraq. The trip from Beirut took about 15 hours.

For almost two hours starting at 11:25 a.m. (5:25 a.m. EDT), a relay of military trucks brought the sometimes waving, effusive fighters identified as guerrillas of the Syrian- trained and commanded Palestine Liberation Army and of an Iraqi-backed contingent of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the loading ramps of the Cypriot ferry Sol Georgios.

Both groups, wearing green uniforms, filed on board armed with automatic rifles under the watchful eyes of French peace-keeping paratroopers, who had arrived only nine hours earlier, and soldiers of the Lebanese Army. Israeli soldiers and members of the Christian Lebanese militia watched the first stage of the exodus from rooftops and behind the closed chain-link fence outside the port's bomb-damaged docks.

Repeated volleys of automatic rifles, machine guns and antiaircraft fire sounded over the harbor during the entire evacuation. Palestinian fighters in the city fired their weapons in celebration of the departure from Beirut in what they say publicly that they consider to be a political victory. The ferry, which left about 2 p.m., rounded Beirut harbor's cement breakwater and headed into the Mediterranean Sea.

Correspondent Dash, who filed this dispatch by telephone to Jerusalem, was unable to complete his report because the phone line went dead and communications links could not be restored. The Associated Press added the following in a dispatch filed at about the same time as Dash's report:

Some of the PLO guerrillas, wearing garlands of white flowers around their necks and in their hair, settled into striped lounge chairs on the canvas-topped upper deck of the white, twin-stacked ferry. Others waved wistfully as they pulled out of the Lebanese capital, their home for 12 years.

Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, architect of the invasion that began 11 weeks ago to rout the PLO in Lebanon, watched the withdrawal at the Beirut port and said the guerrillas had suffered "a crushing defeat . . . . It is a blow from which it will be hard to recover."

"The PLO has lost its kingdom of terrorism," from which it carried out "the cruelest, most atrocious terrorist actions against Israel and throughout the world," Sharon said. He said Israeli troops encircling West Beirut would remain on maximum alert until the two-week evacuation was complete and warned that if there were any delays, Israeli forces would resume heavy shelling.

The evacuees' boat was trailed by a French gunboat for security. Another 1,000 guerrillas, bound for Tunisia, were preparing for evacuation by sea from West Beirut in the next step of the withdrawal starting Sunday.

Lebanese Prime Minister Shafiq Wazzan said the nearly 400 fighters from the Badr Brigade of the Palestine Liberation Army, originally based in Jordan, and the Iraqi-backed Arab Liberation Front departed in the first wave.

As the guerrillas arrived in the port, they flashed victory signs and brandished portraits of PLO chief Yasser Arafat on the muzzles of their guns. They waved red, white, green and black Palestinian flags and chanted "Revolution, Revolution Until Victory" and "I Love Palestine" on their two-mile truck trip from West Beirut's municipal stadium to the harbor. Many women along the route wept and waved handkerchiefs from balconies.

It was unclear whether today's exodus marked the beginning of lasting peace in war-battered Lebanon, where tens of thousands of Israeli and Syrian soldiers remain.

Sharon warned that "the Syrians have a problem. . . . Damascus, all of Damascus, is in range of our artillery," a reference to Israel's positions in eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, where the Israelis battled the Syrians in the first days of the invasion and where more fighting was feared. Sharon said Israel's guns were about 15 miles southwest of the Syrian capital.

U.S. presidential envoy Philip C. Habib, who crafted the PLO evacuation agreement, is expected to begin talks soon on getting Israeli and Syrian troops out of the country. Habib was thanked by Sharon, and the U.S. envoy personally superintended the neutralization of the Beirut port to set the guerrilla exodus in motion.

U.S. officials expressed satisfaction as the first PLO units were evacuated without incident, but they cautioned that future flare-ups could occur, Washington Post staff writer Don Oberdorfer reported in Washington. They noted that the units that departed Saturday were considered among the most disciplined of the Palestinian forces.

President Reagan flashed a "thumbs-up" sign when reporters asked for his assessment of the withdrawal as he boarded Air Force One in Phoenix to fly to his California ranch. "Our reports indicate everything is going smoothly, according to plan," Larry Speakes, the deputy White House press secretary, told reporters.

Residents of Christian East Beirut crowded around radios, applauding when news bulletins gave updated reports on the guerrilla departure. "Millions of thanks to Mr. Habib. There will be peace and our city will be one once again," clothing merchant Carlos Berberian said.

Although the evacuation went smoothly, there was an initial delay in getting Lebanese troops to take over the port from the Israelis and Palestinians.

Shortly before 6 a.m., an Israeli colonel met the French ship Dives, carrying 350 paratroopers, and a surprised French colonel, who expected the Israelis to have already withdrawn from the area, asked: "What are you doing here? When are you leaving?"

"We are ready to leave when your soldiers land," the Israeli answered.

French Ambassador Paul-Marc Henry, the ranking French official at the port, said, "I'm worried because I don't see the Lebanese Army."

A Lebanese Army colonel pulled up in a car, and the French colonel began shouting at him and asking where his men were.

"They would not let us in," the Lebanese officer said. It was not clear to whom he was referring.

By noon, however, the problem was solved and Lebanese soldiers and French paratroopers took up positions.

Another potential snag arose when an Israeli driver escorting two Western journalists in West Beirut was taken prisoner by Palestinian guerrillas this morning. But Israeli Army radio reported tonight that the driver was released to American mediators after being held for several hours.

The French paratroopers who arrived today are the first contingent of a force of more than 2,000 foreign troops that is to oversee the departure of more than 7,000 PLO guerrillas, 1,500 Syrian soldiers, and 2,500-3,000 Syrian-commanded Palestinians during a 14-day period.

The United States is contributing 800 Marines to the peace-keeping force. They are to arrive on about Thursday, and Reagan has said they will play a "carefully limited, non-combatant role" of no more than 30 days' duration and will be withdrawn if fired upon. An additional 450 French soldiers and 530 Italian troops will round out the peace-keeping force.

By Wednesday about 3,000 guerrillas are supposed to have left Beirut by sea, using Cyprus as a staging point before dispersing to Jordan, Iraq, South Yemen, North Yemen, Sudan, Algeria and Tunisia. Egypt has said it will take severely wounded guerrillas.

The bulk of the Palestinian forces will depart by bus to Syria, beginning Wednesday. Syrian sources say scattered camps are being readied to house 8,000 Palestinian fighters temporarily.

The Syrian sources said Syria has agreed to keep 5,000 indefinitely. The rest will be dispersed. Arafat is expected to set up a headquarters in Tunisia.

The withdrawal is scheduled for completion by Sept. 4, and all members of the multinational force are due to leave the country by Sept. 26.

Some of the Palestinians and Syrians in Beirut may not leave Lebanon, however, and some are expected to return shortly to join the Syrian soldiers in the Bekaa Valley.

Copyright 1982 The Washington Post  * Published here for Fair Use Only


 II. September 1982

"Vatican Says John Paul Wants To Meet Guerrilla Leader [Arafat]"

The Associated Press, 11 September 1982


"Vatican Says John Paul Wants To Meet Guerrilla Leader," The Associated Press, September 11, 1982, Saturday, AM cycle, International News, 298 words, Vatican City

Pope John Paul II wants to meet PLO chairman Yasser Arafat during his two-day visit to Rome next week, the Vatican said Saturday in the first official confirmation that the pope was willing to hold the unprecedented meeting.

The Rev. Romeo Panciroli, Vatican press officer, said John Paul "was disposed to meet Yasser Arafat ... regarding the sufferings and rights of the Palestinian people of which the pope has spoken recently."

[Comment #1 by Jared Israel starts here]

Notice that the Associated Press describes the pope as "willing to" meet with Arafat, but quotes his press officers saying the pope "was disposed to meet Yasser Arafat ... regarding the sufferings and rights of the Palestinian people..."

"Disposed to" is quite different from "willing to," isn't it? That the Vatican would violate its general procedure by publicly requesting that a notorious terrorist meet with the pope - meaning it would be Arafat, not the pope, who would be granting the audience - this was stunning.

[Comment #1 by Jared Israel ends here]

Panciroli said he did not know when the private audience would take place. The Palestine Liberation Organization's Rome representative, Nemer Hammad, could not be reached for comment Saturday, but an aide said details of the meeting with the pope had not been worked out.

Hammad said Friday that Arafat would arrive next Wednesday to represent the Palestinian National Council, the PLO's parliament, at the annual conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The PLO has had observer status at the union for several years.

John Paul has frequently spoken out in favor of a Palestinian homeland and has met with lower-ranking PLO officials. [PLO representative] Hammad said last week that a private papal audience for Arafat would help persuade Western countries that the PLO is not merely a terrorist group, as Israel contends, and can be a "constructive force in the Middle East."

[Comment #2 by Jared Israel starts here]

First, notice that the PLO's Hammad is described as saying that the PLO is not merely a terrorist group, it can also be "constructive."  So, constructive terror, cousin of enlightened ignorance and brother of the redeeming murder of Jews.

Also, Hammad's argument, that the pope's audience would "persuade Western countries" that the PLO could be a constructive force, is exactly the point made by Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in criticizing the pope's invitation to and private audience for Arafat. As quoted in the New York Times article below, "'In fact,'' Mr. Berman said, ''the embrace that the pope gave to this murderer of children was taken by the world to confer legitimacy on him, and exploited by Arafat to that end.''

In a similar vein, Austrian Chancellor Kreisky is quoted below answering critics of his meeting with Arafat by saying, "How can they (his critics) forbid me what they allow the pope?"

[Comment #2 by Jared Israel ends here]

Hammad said Arafat probably would fly to Rome from Tunis, the Tunisian capital where he set up headquarters after leaving Israeli-encircled west Beirut with about 8,000 of his guerrillas.

In Vienna, Austrian newspapers reported Saturday that Chancellor Bruno Kreisky wanted Arafat to fly there after his visit to Rome.

Kreisky was criticized for his meeting with Arafat in July 1979. But he was quoted as saying, "How can they (his critics) forbid me what they allow the pope?"

Copyright 1982 Associated Press * Posted for Fair Use Only


III.  September 1982

Israel Sharply Condemns Pope's Plan to Meet Arafat; Vatican Attacks Israeli Government
[This is my title; the AP dispatch, as archived in Lexis-Nexis, has none. - J.I.]

The Associated Press, 13 September 1982

"A senior Israeli official said, 'The same church that did not say a word about the massacre of Jews for six years in Europe (during World War II) and did not say much about the killing of Christians in Lebanon for seven years is ready to meet the man who perpetrated the crime in Lebanon and is bent on the destruction of Israel, which is the completion of the work done by the Nazis in Germany. If the pope is going to meet Arafat, it shows something about the moral standards (of the church).'"
-- From text below


The Associated Press, September 13, 1982, Monday, PM cycle, International News, 634 words, JERUSALEM
(The notes in brackets are from the AP.)

Israel has sharply condemned a proposed meeting between Pope John Paul II and Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat, fearing it might lead to Vatican recognition of the PLO.

"If, in fact, Arafat meets the pope, Israel would view the meeting grievously," Cabinet secretary Dan Meridor said Sunday in response to reporters' questions.

Arafat is scheduled to be in Rome on Wednesday for the annual conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The PLO office there said he would meet with John Paul and Italian President Sandro Pertini.

The Vatican, which has not given the guerrilla organization official recognition, said Saturday that the pontiff "is disposed to meet" the guerrilla chief. It did not give a date.

John Paul met with Arafat aide Afif Saffied in 1980 and has said the Palestinians have a right to a homeland. Israeli officials are fearful that the proposed meeting with Arafat would strengthen the PLO's position in the West.

Ranan Naim of the opposition Labor Party told Israel radio on Sunday he could not understand how a Christian leader could meet with "a man who has brought so much suffering to the Christians of Lebanon."

Naim, one of seven Israeli Parliament deputies who will attend the Rome conference, said he would ask to see the pope to explain Israel's position on the PLO. He also threatened to demonstrate outside the venue of the proposed meeting between Arafat and John Paul.

A senior Israeli official said, "The same church that did not say a word about the massacre of Jews for six years in Europe [during World War II] and did not say much about the killing of Christians in Lebanon for seven years is ready to meet the man who perpetrated the crime in Lebanon and is bent on the destruction of Israel, which is the completion of the work done by the Nazis in Germany. If the pope is going to meet Arafat, it shows something about the moral standards [of the church]."

In Rome, the Vatican today issued an angry reply, calling the Israeli accusation "more than surprising, nearly incredible." It noted the pope has spoken out on the issue many times, including during a visit to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in his native Poland.

It said efforts of the pope, the Holy See, the Roman Catholic Church and its organizations to "protect and save thousands of Jews, before and during World War II," apparently have been forgotten.

The statement said such an "insult to the truth" could not go without a reply. It did not refer specifically to the Arafat visit, but noted the "emotional context" of the Israeli's remarks. However, it said this was not "objectively justified."

Arafat arrived Sunday at his temporary headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia from a weekend visit to Algeria, where he visited the eastern town of Tebessa to tour a camp housing 620 Palestinian guerrillas evacuated from west Beirut under a U.S.-sponsored plan.

The PLO chief spent last week at the Arab summit in Fez, Morocco. The meeting produced a Middle East peace plan calling for the return of all Israeli-occupied territories and an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin rejected the proposals, claiming they were intended to destroy the Jewish state.

The West German magazine Der Spiegel quoted Arafat as saying in an interview that Begin "is a terrorist, a murderer, who together with [Israeli Defense Minister Ariel] Sharon committed a shameless and inhuman crime: Genocide of the Lebanese and Palestinian people."

PLO sources said Arafat is planning visits to all the camps housing PLO fighters in Syria, Tunisia, Jordan, South Yemen and the Sudan. They were forced to withdraw from their 12-year stronghold in west Beirut after Israel invaded Lebanon June 6 and besieged the capital.

Copyright 1982 Associated Press * Published for Fair Use Only


IV. October 1982

"Vatican Aide Defends Pope's Meeting with Arafat"

[Chairman Julius Berman of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations sharply condemns meeting; Vatican defends the meeting as promoting peace; Mr. Berman expresses despair at the Vatican's response]

The New York Times, 24 October 24 1982


"Vatican Aide Defends Pope's Meeting with Arafat," The New York Times, October 24, 1982, Sunday, Late City Final Edition, Section 1; Part 1; Page 18, Column 3; Foreign Desk, 784 words, By Kenneth A. Briggs

The Vatican has formally responded to protests by American Jews over the recent meeting between Pope John Paul II and Yasir Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

In a letter to a prominent American Jew, the Vatican defended the meeting as consistent with the Pope's efforts to promote peace and understanding. It said the act of receiving an individual in no way implied approval of his ideas and actions.

The recipient of the letter, Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, criticized the Vatican's position, saying it offered Jews ''no comfort.''

The letter, which defended the meeting in the context of the Pope's role as a nonpartisan mediator and spiritual minister, came from Johannes Cardinal Willebrands, secretary of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.

A Strong Protest

Cardinal Willebrands, who is empowered to speak for the Pope in such matters, replied to a strong protest that Mr. Berman sent to the Pope two days before the Sept. 15 meeting.

The letter, dated Oct. 7 and released on Thursday by Mr. Berman, went beyond the general account of the audience that was issued by the Vatican press office after the meeting.

The letter, which spelled out the Pope's motives in greater details, said he had implicitly demanded that the Arabs recognize Israel.

By expanding on its original account, the Vatican added a new element to the controversy. The meeting touched off a storm of objections from many Jews. The Israeli Government denounced it, and outcries have continued.

'The Aims of Peace'

''The Holy Father is prepared to receive all men and women who ask for it,'' the Cardinal said, ''intending in this way to manifest his concern for all people, to further the aims of peace and to promote understanding among nations.''

[Jared Israel's comment #3 starts here]

So this private meeting with Arafat, held following the pope's publicly-expressed request for such an audience, which request was made after Arafat's disastrous defeat in Lebanon, supposedly has no political significance because the pope is prepared to meet "all men and women who ask for it"?  He is? Does this Cardinal think we are imbeciles?

[Jared Israel's comment #3 ends here]

Reacting to Mr. Berman's assertion that the meeting had conferred acceptance on Mr. Arafat's politics or strategies, Cardinal Willebrands said, ''I am sure that it is clear that the fact that the Holy Father receives someone in audience is in no way a sign of approval of all the ideas and actions attributed to that person.''

Referring to the Vatican's original statement, the Cardinal said the Pope had wished to ''show his good will toward the Palestinian people.''

[Jared Israel's comment #4 starts here]

Of course, the pope could have accomplished that goal by meeting a Palestinian Arab who opposed the PLO (which is an abuser of ordinary Arabs) instead of Arafat, who discovered the need for a state in the West Bank and Gaza after Israel captured those areas from Jordan and Egypt in 1967. (The PLO is motivated by hatred of Israel and Jews, not by love of ordinary people, Arab or otherwise.)

[Jared Israel's comment #4 ends here]

The Cardinal underscored certain points made by the Pope during the audience. Among them was an expression of hope for a lasting peace, explicit rejection of violence and terrorism, and support for a Palestinian homeland and the right of Israel to ''its own security.''

'A Basic Condition'

''With this last reference,'' he [Cardinal Willebrands] continued, ''the Holy Father wished to affirm that the recognition of Israel by the Arabs is a basic condition for the construction of peace.''

The Cardinal ended the letter by seeking to assure Jews that the Arafat meeting ''cannot in any way be interpreted as hostile to Israel and the Jewish people.'' It is rather a ''positive development'' in the search for peace, he said.

Mr. Berman said he was grateful that Cardinal Willebrands had answered him, but he attacked the substance of letter as ''unresponsive.''

''This justification of the Pope's meeting with the killer Arafat comes as a profoundly depressing one, one that puts into question all of the hopes for Christian-Jewish understanding that began so encouragingly with the work of Pope John XXIII,'' Mr. Berman said in a statement.

He specifically objected to the Cardinal's denial that the meeting with Mr. Arafat implied acceptance of the guerrilla leader's actions and group. ''In fact,'' Mr. Berman said, ''the embrace that the Pope gave to this murderer of children was taken by the world to confer legitimacy on him, and exploited by Arafat to that end.''
Vatican Policy Criticized

''Cardinal Willebrands's suggestion that the Pope regards Arab recognition of Israel as 'a basic condition' for Middle East peace might carry weight if the Vatican itself recognized Israel, but for reasons best known to itself the Holy See has not extended diplomatic recognition to the Jewish State,'' Mr. Berman said.

He added that the Pope's ''opposition to 'arms and violence of all kinds, especially terrorism and reprisals,' is well known.'' ''Unfortunately, his embrace of the arch terrorist Arafat vitiates the impact of that opposition, serving instead to encourage rather than deter terrorist behavior,'' he said.

Copyright 1982 The New York Times Company * Published for Fair Use Only


V. March 1991

"United States Must Negotiate with PLO Says Arafat"
[In this dispatch, Arafat praises Pope John Paul II for refusing to recognize Israel absent a Palestinian Arab state]

IPS-Inter Press Service, 12 March 1991


Middle East: "United States Must Negotiate with PLO Says Arafat"; IPS-Inter Press Service, March 12, 1991, Tuesday, 331 words, Rome, Mar. 12

Arafat stressed that "for the Arab, Islamic and the Third Worlds the PLO continues to be the sole representative of the Palestine people, and my photographs can be seen displayed from Indonesia to Morocco."

Regarding the ties between the Holy See and the PLO, Arafat said that "we will not forget the position taken by the Pope vis-a-vis the Palestinian people in difficult moments, always asking that the United Nations resolutions concerning us be respected.

"Despite the pressure to establish relations between the Vatican and Israel, Pope John Paul II sagely replied that he would like to maintain diplomatic relations with both states, Israel and Palestine. Even during the war the Pope struggled in favor of peace."

Copyright 1991 IPS-Inter Press Service/Global Information Network * Published for Fair Use Only

[Jared Israel's comment #5 starts here]

So, the Vatican refused to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, an existing state, whose people it had historically persecuted, prior to the creation of another state, Palestine, which never existed before, and which, according to the Vatican, was to be run by the leaders of the PLO, which in turn was controlled by Fateh, whose constitution affirmed, and still affirms, that its goal is the "eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence" and that:

"Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab People's armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence, and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated."

If one were to try to argue that in presenting such a remarkable precondition for the recognition of Israel, the Vatican was motivated by some higher morality, one would have a problem, namely, history. In recent times, the Vatican put no preconditions on recognizing the nightmarish state of Islamist Iran.  In the 19th century, the Vatican sided with the slavocracy against the Union. In 1933, when Hitler's dictatorship was internationally isolated, the Vatican sent a crucial signal to Catholic Europe by initiating, negotiating and signing the Reichskonkordat, this while Hitler's first victims, tens of thousands of Communists, were still warm in their graves. The Reichskonkordat required German Catholic bishops to swear a holy oath to proactively protect the Nazi state, effectively making them an arm of the Gestapo. See  

[Jared Israel's comment #5 ends here]


VI. December 1993

"Israel-PLO Accord Leads To Ties With Vatican"

Associated Press,  14 December 1993


"Israel-PLO Accord Leads To Ties With Vatican," Associated Press Worldstream, December 14, 1993, Tuesday, International news, 330 words, Jerusalem

Israel's peace accord with the Palestinians sped up negotiations for diplomatic ties with the Vatican that will be finalized on Dec. 29, Israel television reported Tuesday.

Until now, the Vatican refused to recognize Israel, citing its treatment of Palestinians, a desire not to offend Arab states with Christian minorities and a question of confiscated church property.

But once Israel began talking peace with its Arab neighbors the Vatican began to change its policy, and negotiations for diplomatic relations began over 18 months ago.

[Jared Israel's comment #6 starts here]

First of all, if the Vatican were really concerned about supposed Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian Arabs, i.e., in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, then why would it agree to recognize Israel based on Israel "talking peace with its Arab neighbors" and recognizing the PLO?  One can talk peace or recognize a leadership group while continuing to mistreat ordinary people (not to mention that the PLO was and still is the worst abuser of ordinary Arabs.)  Or consider this: if the Vatican withheld recognition because of this supposed abuse of Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza, why didn't it recognize Israel between 1948 to 1967, when those areas were controlled by Jordan and Egypt, respectively?  So, the Vatican was lying.

Second, to accept Vatican diplomatic recognition based on these conditions was a major defeat for Israel. Why? Because:

A) The Vatican's demand was based on the Vatican's long-stated line that Arabs in the disputed territories were a crucified people. Giving in to the demand and then accepting the pay-off of Vatican recognition put Israel in the position of accepting the moral rebuke of papa, and promising to be a good boy from now on, thus distorting the reality - that Arabs in the disputed territory were a proxy force and a propaganda ploy in decades-long Arab war against Israel's existence;

B) The Vatican's line hid the real bone of contention between the Vatican and Israel: that from the get go, the Vatican opposed the existence of a Jewish state because it contradicted St. Augustine's directive, that the Jews must be made to suffer as miserable exiles in order to demonstrate that, as per Christian doctrine, having killed Jesus, they were no longer the people of Israel;

C) Rather than giving up its 40 year-long opposition to Israel's existence, the Vatican had gotten Israel to accept the legitimacy of those who wanted to make Israel's non-existence a reality.  By successfully pressuring Israel to recognize the PLO, the Vatican had moved its campaign against Israel to a higher level.

D) Reversing its 1982 stance, Israel had now accepted the Vatican's right to interfere in Israel's most vital affairs. With Arab terrorist forces in place - bizarrely accepted as peace partners by Israel itself - the Vatican could work through both the PLO and European states to isolate, humiliate and weaken Israel.

[As of January 12, 2009, the Vatican position is that Hamas and Fateh should unite. Thus Hamas is brought into the Vatican's circle of designated leaders of the crucified Palestinians. I wonder what small nation might be the target of such unity?]

[Jared Israel's comment #6 ends here]

Avi Pazner, Israel's ambassador to Italy, said that the peace accord with the PLO prompted the Vatican's decision to close ties with Israel.

''The negotiations between us and the Vatican began after we started the peace talks. The process sped up a lot after the agreement with the Palestinians that had a direct and good influence on the negotiations,'' Pazner said on Israel television.

Among issues that had to be resolved were Vatican properties in Israel and the status of Christians in Israel.

Israel television said final understandings were reached in the past few days during a visit by the Vatican's former secretary of state, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli.

Pazner confirmed that an agreement to establish ties would be signed ''toward the end of this month.''

''This is the first time in history that there will be official ties between the Catholic Church and the state of Israel,'' he added.

The television report said an agreement would be signed in Rome on Dec. 29 according to which ambassadors would be appointed and full relations completed with four months. It added that the ambassadors would be posted within a month.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Uri Palti could not confirm the Dec. 29th date or other details.

Diplomatic ties could pave the way for a visit by Pope John Paul II to Jerusalem.

The Pope was invited by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres but has not formally accepted.

Copyright 1993 Associated Press * Published for Fair Use Only


VII. October 1994

Vatican gives the PLO an office in the Holy See

[Yes, you read it right.  The Vatican press release below, issued in November 2004, following the death of Yasser Arafat, casually states that the Vatican gave the PLO its own office in the Vatican in October 1994. - J.I.]

From the media office of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland at
Archived at

Note added in July 2009: the link is down, but the press release is still accessible on the "The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation" website at
This is archived as a screenshot at


Holy See Joins in Pain of Palestinian People for Arafat Death


VATICAN CITY, NOV 11, 2004 (VIS) - Upon learning of the death early this morning in a hospital near Paris of Yasser Arafat, 75, president of the Palestinian National Authority, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following statement to journalists:

"The Holy See joins in the pain of the Palestinian people for the death of President Yasser Arafat. He was a leader of great charisma who loved his people and sought to lead them towards national independence. May God welcome in His mercy the soul of the illustrious deceased and give peace to the Holy Land, with two independent and sovereign States, fully reconciled with each other."

Pope John Paul and Yasser Arafat have met 12 times during the Pope's 26-year pontificate. Arafat was received 11 times in the Vatican: the first was on September 15, 1982 and the last time was October 30, 2001. The Palestinian leader and the Holy Father also met in Bethlehem during the pontiff's pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March of 2000.

Yasser Arafat has met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State (1996), with then Archbishop and now Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, secretary for Relations with States (1994 in Tunisia and 1995 in Gaza during a trip to Israel) and with Cardinal Pio Laghi when he visited the Holy Land in 2001.

On October 25, 1994, the Holy See announced that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Holy See will exchange representations to be "open channels for continuing the development of mutual relations, understanding and cooperation. ... It was decided to give to the already long-existing and fruitful working contacts a permanent and official character. The Palestine Liberation Organization will, therefore, open an office of representation at the Holy See, with its own director. The apostolic nuncio in Tunisia will be responsible for contacts with the leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization." [My emphasis - J.I.]

On February 15, 2000, John Paul II received Arafat and a delegation for the signing of a Basic Agreement between the Holy See and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, as the representative of the Palestinian National Authority. At that time the Palestinian leader invited the Pope to Bethlehem. The agreement signed that day dealt with certain juridical questions regarding the presence and activity of the Catholic Church in the territory dependent on the Palestinian Authority.


(C) VIS 2004 * Published for Fair Use Only


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