Netanyahu, who was accompanied by his wife Sara, gifted the pope a book about the Spanish inquisition written by his father Benzion Netanyahu, a prominent historian. It bore the inscription: “To His Holiness Pope Francis, great guardian of our common heritage.”
The book is The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain. That’s when the Catholic Church cleaned house in Spain and persecuted many Jews and Muslims. “This is one gift horse that should be looked squarely in the mouth! What a nice bread-and-butter gift!” says my tipster, Michael Desch.
Adam Taylor writes at Business Insider:
The leader of the world’s only Jewish state giving the leader of the Catholic Church a book that largely revolves about Spanish Catholics questioning, torturing, and punishing Jewish converts to Catholicism is certainly noteworthy. The Spanish inquisition is widely held up as one of the worst excesses of the Roman Catholic Church, and thousands of people were expelled from Spain or burned at the stake. Worse still, the inquisition of Catholic converts (and the use of torture to discover heretics) was first legally sanctioned by Pope Innocent IV.
So, Netanyahu’s gift may seem passive aggressive (or maybe just aggressive), and perhaps it is. But it is important to think of the context of the book…
I know what the context of the book is: all Netanyahu’s new existential threats to the Jewish people, from Iran to the Palestinians. His wife Sara told the Pope she couldn’t wait till he visits Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and this is her husband’s preemptive strike to keep the Pope from restaging Pope Benedict’s photo-op at the wall.