Far-rightist MK: Hitler Youth Pope Not Welcome in Israel

Ben Ari says Catholic Church driven by anti-Semitism, visit by Benedict XVI an insult to Holocaust victims.

National Union MK Michael Ben Ari declared Tuesday that next week's visit by Pope Benedict XVI, whom he referred to as a former member of the Nazis' youth movement, would be an insult to the memory of Holocaust victims.

"A state welcome for the pope would be turning our backs on the millions of Jews who were killed in the shadow of the Christian religion of grace and mercy," Ben Ari was quoted as saying by Israeli media. "This pope was a member of the Hitler Youth."

He made the comments at a Knesset session in which he called on lawmakers to rethink the pope's visit.

Ben Ari, a former member of the outlawed Kach movement, further said the Catholic Church is, and has always been, driven by anti-Semitic motivations.

"This pope brought back to the Church priests who deny the Holocaust and has renewed discussion on the accusation that Jews murdered Jesus," he added.

The lawmaker was referring to Benedict XVI's rehabilitation of British Bishop Richard Williamson, who has denied the Holocaust, which sparked outrage across the Jewish world.

The lawmaker went on to say he regretted the Knesset House Committee's prevention of a discussion on the matter, and attacked the rightist Habayit Hayehudi and ultra-Orthodox parties for failing to back such a debate.

Following Ben Ari's remarks, MK Roni Bar-On (Kadima) said the far-rightist was a pyromaniac who wished to set the Middle East ablaze.