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Knesset member calls pope anti-Semite

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI | License Photo

JERUSALEM, May 5 (UPI) -- An Israeli Knesset member Tuesday called Pope Benedict XVI an anti-Semite and unsuccessfully demanded a discussion on the pontiff's upcoming visit to Israel.

Ynetnews reported Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union party said the parliament should state its position on the Catholic spiritual leader, who he claimed "is an anti-Semite, was a member of the Hitler youth and returned a Holocaust-denying bishop to the church." He also said the pontiff continues to blame the Jewish people for the killing of Jesus.

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Ben-Ari said the Knesset's decision not to discuss Benedict's visit flies in the face of freedom of expression. Knesset Member Ronnie Bar-On of the Kadima party responded by saying "This is not a blow to the freedom of expression, but an attempt to prevent anarchy of expression."

Bar-On, who previously has served in several Israeli Cabinet posts, and Knesset Member Dalia Itzik, another Kadima representative who is a former Knesset speaker who has served in various ministerial posts and twice served as interim Israeli president, said the parliament was right in not holding the discussion.

Itzik said the pope's visit should be welcomed because he has worked to bring Judaism and Christianity closer together.

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