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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Selectively hearing the Pope's words

One of the interesting things that occur when the Pope speaks is not only that his words are examined exhanstively, but that the people who interpret his words show their own biases.

This occurs on all sides - there are plenty of Israelis as well as Arabs who are quick to criticize the Pope's choice of words. To give one example, some Israelis were not happy with the Pope talking about Jews "killed" instead of "murdered" in reference to the Holocaust, although as Batya points out, Yad Vashem uses the even more indirect word "perished."

The news media, however, pretend to have no biases. So when they start interpreting the words of the pontiff, we can see exactly where they are coming from.

From the Times of London:
Pope criticises 'tragic' West Bank barrier

Pope Benedict XVI today lamented the "tragic" building by Israel of the West Bank separation barrier in a speech to Palestinians at a refugee camp in Bethlehem in the shadow of the 25ft structure.

In sentiments that are sure to anger Jerusalem – who had blocked the building of a stage for the Pope next to the concrete and steel wall – the pontiff said the barrier was a symbol of the stalemate in relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Towering over us... is a stark reminder of the stalemate that relations between Israelis and Palestinians seem to have reached – the wall," he told a crowd at the Aida refugee camp.

“In a world where more and more borders are being opened up – to trade, to travel, to movement of peoples, to cultural exchanges – it is tragic to see walls still being erected,” he said.

How earnestly we pray for an end to the hostilities that have caused this wall to be built."
It doesn't sound to me like the Pope is criticizing the security barrier - it sounds more like he is lamenting the terrorism that forced Israel to build the security barrier.

Somehow, the Times of London chose to interpret Benedict's words differently.

Perhaps because they are more bothered by the wall than by the terrorism that spawned it?