Monday, May 11, 2009

Sheikh Taissir Tamimi, the head of the PA's religious court, is completely insane.

For example, a couple of years ago he said
"Israel is trying to hurt the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people also by means of exporting AIDS, drug trafficking, promiscuous norms, and making prostitution legal."

But he has no independent way of knowing that his consistent and absurd vilification of Israel is a bit crazy. His rants attract a great audience, his weekly screeds against Israel will get written up in the Arabic press approvingly, and he has fans who adore his crazy rhetoric. No one in the PA will ever stand up and say, "You know, this guy has a few screws loose."

The reason being that no one wants his crazy supporters to be angry at them.

So Tamimi, along with his similarly nutty Muslim and Greek Orthodox clerics, regularly gets only positive feedback as his rhetoric keeps getting ratcheted up. He knows that the crazier he speaks, the more popular he will become among Palestinian Arabs.

Every once in a while, the insanity that we get so used to in the Palestinian Authority - the craziness that is happily tolerated by the West as a minor issue that can be ignored - runs up against reality, and it forces people to notice, if only fleetingly, that these guys really are nuts.

Sheikh Tamimi, meet the Pope:
Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the Notre Dame Hotel in east Jerusalem Monday night for a meeting with the heads of all religious represented in Israel was cut short by an unpleasant incident, after a Palestinian sheik interrupted his speech.

The meeting was attended by heads of the Rabbinate, Vatican State Secretary Cardinal Tarkisio Bertoni, heads of the various churches in Israel, Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal and Sheikh Taiseer al-Tamimi, head of the Palestinian Authority's Sharia Courts.

Patriarch Twal began the ceremony and then invited the pope to speak. Both clergymen spoke of the importance of unity, brotherhood and peace.

The pope's speech was suddenly interrupted by Sheikh Tamimi, who began crying out at his holiness, asking him to "see to a just peace. A just peace means a Palestinian state in which Israel will stop killing women and children and destroying mosques, like it did in Gaza."

Those present in the hall attempted to silence him, but he continued, slamming Israel for "destroying Palestinian cities and erecting settlements on Palestinian land. Jerusalem will remain the Palestinian people's capital," he said in Arabic, and called on the heads of the other religions present to "defend the Palestinians and their lands."

The pope left the room immediately after Tamimi was done, passing on the traditional exchange of gifts.

The Vatican responded:

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said: "The speech by Sheikh Taysir Tamimi was not scheduled by the organisers of the meeting. In a meeting dedicated to dialogue, this intervention was a direct negation of what a dialogue should be. We hope that such an incident will not damage the mission of the pope aiming at promoting peace and also interreligious dialogue."
It is not easy to tick off the Pope.

Is this how a cleric speaks to the head of the Roman Catholic Church? Tamimi is so completely clueless because of the echo chamber of approval that surrounds him - even among the so-called "moderates" of the PA - that he honestly thinks that he can do whatever he wants and will only get adoration.

And the funny thing is, within the Palestinian Arab community, his prestige will probably only increase after this.


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