Diplomacy

Pope Francis Pays Tribute to Theodor Herzl, Founder of Zionism

The New York Times reported yesterday that, during his brief trip to Israel, Pope Francis made an unprecedented stop and laid a wreath at the tomb of the founder of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl.

On Mount Herzl, after the Pope visited a memorial to victims of terror, including those killed in the Iranian-backed attacked on the AMIA building in the Pope’s home country of Argentina, The Times reported that Pope Francis honored the founder of modern Zionism.

“I explained to the pope that building the security fence prevented many more victims that Palestinian terror — which continues today — planned to harm,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said afterward. Later, he added, “I long for the day in which Pope Francis’ call to recognize the state of Israel, the right of Jews to a state of their own, to live in security and peace, will be accepted by our neighbors.”

That was just one of the poignant photo opportunities of the pope at some of Judaism’s most sacred sites. He placed a note with the prayer “Our Father” handwritten in Spanish between the ancient stones of the Western Wall. He kissed the hands of six survivors — one saved as a baby by a Catholic family — at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. He became the first Vatican leader to lay a wreath of signature yellow and white flowers on the tomb of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism.

The Pope has also invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to his residence in Vatican City next month. The Pope’s good intentions to nudge peace talks along is endangered by Abbas’s growing political alliance with the terror group, Hamas.

[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]