Netanyahu Gives Book About The Spanish Inquisition to Pope Francis

I've got to tell you that when I first heard that Benjamin Netanyahu gave Pope Francis a book on the Spanish Inquisition I kinda' thought that it was a jerky thing to do. And by kinda' jerky I thought totally over the top jerky. I mean, not as bad as Obama giving the Queen of England cd's of his speeches but pretty jerky nonetheless.

I thought that perhaps the Pope should've given Netanyahu a dvd collection of Adam Sandler movies as signifying the contribution of the Jewish people. But that would've been wrong. And I'm glad I didn't make that joke because I found out there was more to the story.

It turns out that Netanyahu presented Pope Francis with his father's book entitled "The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain" which actually refutes that the Inquisition targeted Jews at all. It posited that the Spanish Inquisition was more politically oriented than religious.

Netanyahu wrote on the book: "To His Holiness Pope Franciscus, a great shepherd of our common heritage.”

Kinda' nice, right?

Pope Francis is reportedly talking about visiting the Holy Land in the near future.

*subhead*Not jerky.*subhead*


  1. That's not my recollection of the book.

    The book is by BenZion Netanyahu, Bibi's father.

    It's a real brick of a book-- it has 900 pages. The reason it's so big is that it put forward a novel interpretation of the Spanish Inquisition and had to overturn a lot of orthodoxy on the subject.

    My memory of the book (and it's been 15 years since I read it, so bear with me) is that it was not Catholic friendly at all. It wasn't a mindless anti-Catholicism, the kind you read in Jack Chick or Dan Brown. But I remember the tone being distinctly anti-Catholic.

    The gist of the book is that the Inquisition was indeed a racist institution, and an anti-semitic one at that. But not for the reasons most people think.

    It's true that it targeted Jews, but it was because a lot of the "good Catholics" were converts from Judaism. The Converso population wanted to prove its bona fides to the old blood because there was always this suspicion they weren't *as orthodox* as pureblood Spaniards, even though they were measurably more faithful.

    So they went along with the persecution of heretics.

    This review says it appears to absolve Catholicism of religious animus for the inquisition.

    I don't see that at all.

    If anything, religion and race are intertwined, and the Catholic Church comes off looking badly.

    That's not to say the book has no merit, although forgive me, I only made it to page 325. It's a tough book to get through when you're only an armchair historian. You really have to be immersed in Inquisition scholarship to evaluate all the claims being made and they are legion.

    I think the Pope might like this book for its scholarship. I don't think HE would take it the wrong way, even though the optics aren't that good.

  2. The Bishop of Rome is indeed the shepherd of our common heritage. President Bibi gets it; not everyone in our own government (democratically elected by the people) does.

    Papa Francis has said nothing new. Regardless of the wish-fulfillment fantasies of what may perhaps be called the Left and the fears of what might perhaps be called the Right, the Holy Father teaches what all other Bishops of Rome have taught for 2,000 years, and which may be found in, among other primary sources, the Nicene Creed, the Apostles' Creed, the Our Father, the Magnificat, the Hail Mary, and the Bible (the entire canon, not the post-16th-century digests passively accepted by many in this country). That these teachings are often ignored by frail and sometimes evil humans does not invalidate them.

  3. Thank you, Suzanne F. and Mack Hall, HSG

  4. Perhaps someone should give Bibi (and the Holy Father) a book of authentic scholarship, namely "Isabella of Spain" by the brilliant Catholic historian William Thomas Walsh. It tells the story of the Inquisition like no other book has before or since, and puts paid to all the Black Legends against Spain that have smothered the true history for centuries. But perhaps one shouldn't show it to Mr Bibi...he'd probably die of a heart attack.

  5. Or perhaps the pope should get a new history book published that tells the truth - that the interning Jews did nothing to help stop the Muslims from butchering Christians who were defending their homeland and took advantage of the Spanish military to keep them safe and in good supplies while many Jew openly traded with the Muslims and were often false converts just for economic benefit. Tell the story of how the inquisitions were the first time in human history where not just the nobles where given expert legal representation and rule of order but that commoners were entitled to legal representation, convictions based on evidence and witness and not just tortured into anything the king wanted to hear. Tell the history that the Jews never gave a fair trial to Jesus of Nazareth or to the thousands of early Jewish Christian converts who just wanted to live in peace and not forced out of their homes and turned over to the Romans for brutal persecution and execution.

  6. Any chance that as he presented the book, Bibi said, sotto voce of course, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition"?

    Too many people learned history from the certificated ignorant and as young adults re-learned it from Monty Python skits.


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