Al-Rahi Travels to Jerusalem despite Barrage of Criticism

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi traveled Friday to the Holy Land via Amman on a religious visit that has angered Hizbullah, a sworn enemy of Israel.

The state-run National News Agency said al-Rahi was accompanied by Bishop Boulos Sayyah and Bkirki spokesman Walid Ghayyad.

The patriarch took a private plane from Rafik Hariri International Airport. He did not make a statement before his trip, NNA said.

“I took the permission of the president and the premier to visit the Holy Land. I am committed to Lebanese laws,” he told France 24 TV network after landing in Amman.

He stressed that the supporters of his visit were more than those objecting it.

Angered by a question, al-Rahi walked out of the interview after stressing that he respects Lebanon and its sovereignty and that he will not meet during his visit with “any civilian or political official.”

And although the program host urged him not to leave, the patriarch insisted on his protest move, saying “I did not come here to hear condemnations.”

“Enough with raising this issue. You do not want to understand,” al-Rahi added.

The patriarch's visit is the first by a Lebanese religious official to the Holy Land since the state of Israel was established in 1948 and is intended to fit in with Pope Francis' three-day pilgrimage to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories that begins Saturday.

Al-Rahi has come under intense fire from media outlets that support Hizbullah. Some of them have described the visit as a “historic sin.”

But he has insisted "it's not a political visit, it's a religious one."

"The pope is going to the Holy Land and Jerusalem. He is going to the diocese of the patriarch, so it's normal that the patriarch should welcome him," he told Agence France Presse on Thursday.

"It's also normal that the patriarch goes to visit his diocese's parishes," said al-Rahi.

While the patriarch will not be a part of Pope Francis' official delegation, he will welcome the pontiff in Jordan, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and then visit the Maronite community in the Galilee, in Israel, Sayyah said.

Al-Rahi will not participate in any political meetings with Israeli officials, but he will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Lebanese law prohibits all contact with Israel, technically still at war with Lebanon, and bans citizens from having business dealings with Israelis.

Any Lebanese who travels to the Jewish state can face charges of treason.

One exception is Lebanon's Maronite clergy, who are allowed to travel to the Holy Land to minister to the faithful there.

The last top Maronite cleric to visit Jerusalem was Patriarch Bolus Moochy. He traveled to Jerusalem in 1964 to receive the pope in the eastern part of the city, ruled then by Jordan.

Hizbullah has recently warned that al-Rahi's visit would have "negative repercussions.”

Party representatives visited him in Bkirki last week.

“We hope al-Rahi would take into consideration our stance on his visit to Jerusalem,” Hizbullah's politburo chief Sayyed Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed said.

“Al-Rahi's visit would have negative repercussions in Lebanon and the region,” the official told reporters in Bkirki.

But the cardinal has said he was going to the Holy Land "to say Jerusalem is Arab, and I have authority over it."

"Jerusalem is our city, our city as Christians before anyone else."

"The Christians have been there for 2,000 years, while Israel was created in 1948."

Al-Rahi also faces criticism for his plan to visit 2,500 Lebanese who fought in the Israeli-sponsored South Lebanon Army.

They moved to Israel when the Jewish state ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000.

Many Lebanese regard them as traitors and want to see them punished.



Comments 36
Missing georgeskyp 23 May 2014, 11:42

Good for you! No one has the right to interfere.

Thumb thepatriot 23 May 2014, 12:32

We want the right to visit Jerusalem too!

Missing phillipo 23 May 2014, 19:13

Tell that to your government and get them to sit down again with Israel and reach a peace agreement/treaty as you did in 1983. This time there is no Syrian occupation to force your government to tear up the agreement.
Then you will all be allowed to visit Israel, Christian, Moslem and Druze, when you will all be able to vciswit your holy sites.

Thumb ado.australia 23 May 2014, 19:56

Phillipo... The Jewish Zionist homeland, is against Christians as much us it is against Muslims. The zionists have allowed the Jewish extremists to take over the government and allow "price tages" and other anti Christian and Muslim vandalism to happen without punishment. Christian and Muslim "Israelis" are allowed to be persecuted like apartied South Africa. Modern Zionist Israel is no different to the racist South African apartheid regime. They have tried to pretend to change with allowing Christians to join the IDF and placing house arrest Jewish extremist during the Pope's visit... But this is not enough to hide the truth about this racist country.

Thumb ado.australia 23 May 2014, 20:00

God bless the batrak... As much as they want to declare false problems with the Lebanese.... The truth is that most lebanese wish the batrak well... God spread cardinal Rahi, May the world be reminded that the truth about this city is not just Jewish or Muslim but Christian too. Jerusalem an international city for all!

Missing phillipo 24 May 2014, 12:06

ado.australia :
"The Jewish Zionist homeland, is against Christians"
Is this why the Christian population of Israel is the only one in the whole Middle East which is growing?

Missing georgeskyp 29 May 2014, 11:26

Philipo its against all Gentiles

Missing forces 23 May 2014, 11:44

Allah ma3ak batrakna! you are doing us proud in your capacity as head of the marointe faith. Thank you for not giving two thoughts about what those animals wish. continue your path for we are all behind you.

Thumb FlameCatcher 23 May 2014, 12:01

Let the critics begin !

Al Rahi single handedly shut all hypocrit politicians up.

If Hezbollah has a problem with this, let them compare their visit to Syria which everyone objected against with this. And count the number of casualties and deaths resulting of both "visits".

Al-Rahi is conquering back the Eastern Christian's rights over Jerusalem without a single drop of blood. In this, he's mightier than Hezbollah !

Default-user-icon Kamal (Guest) 23 May 2014, 18:09

Lol huh? An insignificant visit by an unknown batrak is conquering back jerusalem to you?

Default-user-icon Ludwig (Guest) 23 May 2014, 12:11

lol, exactly! yet they lie and say they won

Default-user-icon Hanoun (Guest) 23 May 2014, 13:09

good step sayedna el batrak , at least you shou the israely state that Christians will stay in the holy land even if they become a purely jewish state
god bless democracy and no to apartheid states

Thumb gma-bs-artist. 23 May 2014, 14:07

Sheikh Naiim Qassem said this is problematic, what will they do to Cardinal Rai, what will they do? What kind of problems will they created for him?

Missing un520 23 May 2014, 14:09

The road to peace in the Middle East is not through an arms race like the one between Hezbollah/Iran and Israel. It is not through boycots etc. Its through dialogue and building trust little by little.

Thumb galaxy 23 May 2014, 15:15

deterrence like your hizb, the biggest joke of the century..!

Thumb FlameCatcher 23 May 2014, 15:35

@FT : the IDF has no reason to point weapons at the Lebanese army. Why would they ... come up with a single valid reason please.

Their only problem is HA !

Thumb FlameCatcher 23 May 2014, 16:28

Oh you're one to talk about evasion. You who never answers my questions.

When was the last time the IDF shot at the lebanese army ? If idiots with guns provoke them, does this put our entire army at war or in danger ?

Fact is HA is Israel's only problem with Lebanon right now. All the rest can be solved !

Thumb FlameCatcher 23 May 2014, 16:34

PS : talking about evasion, what do you call Syria bombing Lebanese territory ? Do you sanction or support this ? What do you call Bashar bombing the mosque in Tripoli ? Or Samaha, your partner in crime smuggling bombs to Lebanon ?

Thumb FlameCatcher 23 May 2014, 18:41

You and I are powerless against anyone bombing Lebanon. However, providing support to any armed group is being partly responsible for letting this situation go on.

There is no difference between Syrian and Israeli aggression. Especially when you consider Hezbollah is fighting to defend Lebanon's greatest enemy of all time. He's a criminal and anyone defending him is a traitor.

I'm not encouraging terrorism by condemning Syrian attacks. The Lebanese army is doing a great job in Arsal and there is no need for Syria to take matters into its own hands. In fact, if Assad is so strong there is no need for Hezbollah to intervene.

And when it comes to terrorism, you can never get rid of it ! You kill one, 10 others spawn. The only way is to de-escalate, disarm and make peace ! There is no other alternative !

Thumb galaxy 23 May 2014, 15:16

Israel showed them the stars in mid day sunshine:)

Default-user-icon Trueself (Guest) 23 May 2014, 15:31

The Christians and Jerusalem are intertwined. Jerusalem holds the cradle of Jesus and there is where Jesus lived, died and resurrected. No one could deny the Christians their basic right of being in Jerusalem where they have churches from all denominations. Jerusalem is a land for all religions. Just confining it to one religion or another is simply hypocritical. As christian, we have no problems with the state of Israel on a personal and religious basis. We do sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians and wish that one day they could have their own land and govern it by themselves. However, the Christians should have the freedom to travel to Jerusalem for religious purposes without this being construed politically. To us the Christian, Jerusalem is a holly land where our lord Jesus traversed. That's why we have every right to go there. I support the visit of the Patrak.

Thumb beiruti 23 May 2014, 15:46

When Nasrallah has gone to Tehran to bow and kiss the ring of Khomenie and swear loyalty and fealty to a foreign leader, this is an act of treason, but he has done it and Nasrallah leads a political party.
Patriarch does not lead a political party or faction; he is not going to kiss the ring of Netanyahu or swear allegiance to Israel. Patriarch is among other things a pastor over his congregation, some of which live south of Lebanon's boarder. It is his duty and his right to minister to them.
So Hezbollah, shut your trap on this one.

Default-user-icon Observer (Guest) 23 May 2014, 17:10

Appart from the nausea caused by reading some of the comments. This visit is simply unwarranted. Without judging anyone, this adds to the long Arab history of betrayal. Jerusalem is under occupation and the priest is simply giving is blessings.. ironically literally.

Thumb scorpyonn 23 May 2014, 17:48

I wish more Lebanese would follow suit and make decisive decsions like this instead of allowing primitive Islamic terrorists that bow down to the Iranian cancer in Tehran to push them around.

Thumb scorpyonn 23 May 2014, 17:53

To Flamethrower who represents Iran on this site: Your arguments are futile and meaningless.

Missing abdallah 23 May 2014, 18:19

Lol at this forum. Everything from zionist propaganda to persian propaganda and then as a cherry on top, christians pretending like al-rahi went to jerusalem to reclaim the glory of the crusaders when he is there as a mouse, nobody cares about his presence, nobody notices his presence nor is he even known to most people. Everyone needs to take a break from the sun, your brains are melting :)

Missing enemy-of-christians 23 May 2014, 20:39

Where is Aoun? Does he have something to say? The so-called defender of Christians....Or is he in reality the servile khadim of the "divine party"???

Missing enemy-of-christians 23 May 2014, 20:43

The journalist of France 24 was shaking while asking the someone who obeys orders from outside agents.
The Batrak should excommunicate any Christian who obeys the "divine party". FULL STOP.

Default-user-icon Boutas (Guest) 23 May 2014, 21:41

There is nothing Holy or Divine about this "Guy".

He apparently has a Mistress.

Default-user-icon bassssko (Guest) 23 May 2014, 21:43

i suggest that they all leave us alone we want to go to israel and you don't like it bite us :) go do your own shit and we do our own
hizb and bullshit and those fake people take my advise lebanon without christians will be like dahyie :) good luck

Default-user-icon sadlebaneseinexile (Guest) 23 May 2014, 23:27

Berri described the resistance as the “most powerful military force in the Middle East and the third in the world.” HA supporters either have a severe case of delusion or a bad sense of humor. 1200+ Lebanese died in that war, thousands more were displaced and wounded. The country's infrastructure was destroyed. The other side lost a couple hundred people. And delusional people called it divine victory. They can call it whatever they want as their naive supporters would believe anything.
I am sure they were thrilled at Berri's statement and are celebrating their all mighty military force.
If HA is the third most powerful force in the world,hummm, who are number 1 and 2? Let me guess: It is Iran and Syria.

Thumb cedre 23 May 2014, 23:56

does anybody know if batrak and top clergy have pasport from vatican/holy see ?

Thumb jabal10452 24 May 2014, 01:40

Only Cardinals residing in the Vatican hold Vatican passports, according to Wikipedia.

Thumb 24 May 2014, 01:38

The Patriarch is showing Hezbollah and Iran that they don't fully control Lebanon. Ever since the 7th century, invaders have tried to subjugate us. They have not and never will succeed.

Missing phillipo 24 May 2014, 12:04

"and that he will not meet during his visit with “any civilian or political official.”
"he will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas."
So can we presume that Abbas is not a political official?

Missing phillipo 24 May 2014, 12:09

Ask your government. Demand a reply from them.