Bar-Ilan University President Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz is set to award the school’s highest honor, Award of Distinction, to Pope Francis at a ceremony in the Vatican today. The Palestinians are, of course, angry about it for some reason.
The Award of Distinction will be presented to the Pope in recognition of his lifelong efforts and commitment to building bridges between worlds, promoting peace and harmony among nations and creeds, and defending and fighting for human rights.
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The Pope is also being honored for his contribution to understanding and tolerance between Christians and Jews and the warmth he has extended toward the Jewish nation, particularly during his official visit to Israel.
“As a microcosm of Israeli society, Bar-Ilan’s doors are open to students of all races and religions. Through a variety of ongoing dialogue programs aimed at fostering understanding and acceptance, Bar-Ilan University has been working to bridge gaps between various sectors of Israeli society for many years. It is, therefore, a deep privilege to be meeting with and honoring the Pope, who has taken it upon himself to undertake this tremendous task on a worldwide scale, ” said Rabbi Prof. Hershkowitz.
Now what could be controversial about that? Well apparently some officials in the Palestinian Authority think that Bar Ilan is a right wing institution which supports the expansion of Israeli settlements. As a result, they think that it would somehow hurt the peace process for the Pope to accept the award.
So now the Arabs want to be able to tell the Vatican what it can or cannot do. Didn’t previous Popes meet with Arafat?
The reception with Pope Francis and presentation of the Award will mark the official opening of a year of festivities in celebration of Bar-Ilan University’s 60th anniversary.
The event will take place today, Monday, October 27, in the presence of University officials and a delegation of Jewish and non-Jewish businessmen and women from South America and Spain.