The Pope at the Deheisheh Refugee Camp
by Henry Levy
Once again the "spin doctors" were ready to interpret the Pope's every word and action as political affirmation of their divergent points of view. Among the 10,000 people living in the camps, it was apparently viewed as a giant photo op.
The Pope spoke in English and there was no translation into Arabic so those gathered didn't have a clue to what he was saying. In addition, only 15 minutes after the visit, fighting erupted between the refugees and Palestinian police with stones flying and bullets shot into the air.
With tensions running so high among fellow Palestinians on what should have been the most problem-free day in their history, with the entire world watching, one can only imagine what difficulties lie ahead between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Pope showed great emotion for the refugees saying, "No one can ignore how much the Palestinian people have had to suffer in recent decades." While he refrained from endorsing their "right of return," he spoke of their deprivation of proper housing, health care, education, and work, and said "above all, you bear the sad memory of what you were forced to leave behind, not just material possession, but your freedom, the closeness of relatives, and the familiar surroundings and cultural traditions."
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