On Monday, Pope Francis completed his four-day visit to Iraq, the first ever such papal visit. There he met with Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the religious leader of the country’s Shiites, in the holy city of Najaf; visited Mosul, a city formerly occupied by Islamic State and home to a large Christian population; and also made a stop in Ur, the birthplace, according to the book of Genesis, of Abraham. Fiamma Nirenstein comments:
Although he repeated Abraham’s name during his visit, the pope didn’t mention the fact that Jews have also been persecuted by Muslims in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the peaceful tectonic upheaval that brought the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco to accept Israel and the Jewish people as indigenous to the region is still a train in motion. And it is producing results close to [Francis’s] description of Abraham as one who “knew how to hope against all hope,” and who laid the groundwork for “the human family.”
It’s a pity that the Iraqi government ignored the country’s Jews in this context, against Vatican hopes, by not inviting a Jewish delegation to the event. It was a dismissal of Jewish history and expulsion from Muslim countries, along with their synagogues and traditions, by the hundreds of thousands.
During his interreligious prayer for peace in Ur, the Pope thanked the Lord for having given Abraham to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, together with other believers. . . . Now, with the solidification of the Abraham Accords, the three religions have the opportunity to march together against the fierce opponents of peace, ranging from Islamic State to al-Qaeda, from Hamas to Hizballah, and to all the states that support them, first and foremost Iran.