Israelis welcome new Pope

 Israel has welcomed the appointment of Pope Benedict XVI - and expressed the hope that he will be committed to fighting anti-Semitism, HA'ARETZ reports. The paper said Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom welcomed the election of Ratzinger as the new leader of the world's Roman Catholics. A Foreign Ministry statement read: "The foreign minister expresses his hope that this pope, considering his historical experience, will be especially committed to an uncompromising fight against anti-Semitism." Joseph Ratzinger was a boy when Nazi leader Adolf Hitler came to power. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was widely hailed in Israel for his millennium pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and the establishment of diplomatic ties between the Vatican and Israel in 1994. Tel Aviv's chief rabbi, Israel Lau, a Holocaust survivor, met Ratzinger last year at a symposium on anti-Semitism held in New York, where the cardinal was the first to deliver a speech condemning the hatred of Jews. "He is known as a friend to the Jewish people," Lau said. "I hope, pray and wish him to follow the footsteps of John Paul II in his good approach and friendship to the Jewish people in the world and to state of Israel especially." Source: Israeli Embassy Public Affairs Dept

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