Major Achievement by Committee to Save Mt. Zion

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Jewish organization successful in getting Israeli President Katsav to declare in public that he will not give Mt. Zion to the Vatican. There is "no deal" for trading a synagogue in Spain for King David's Tomb.

The International Society for Sephardic Progress (ISFSP) is pleased to announce that activities of its Committee to Save Mt. Zion have resulted in a tremendous success with a major announcement by Israeli President Moshe Katsav. The president has gone on the record in both the Jerusalem Post and other media outlets formally denying that the Vatican will be given part of the King David’s Tomb Complex on Mt Zion in Jerusalem.

In October, newspapers in Italy and London reported that a meeting in late November 2005 would possibly include the exchange of a portion of the much-beloved Jewish holy site known as the Kever David HaMelech (the traditional tomb of King David) for an empty building that at one time was a synagogue in Toledo, Spain. There are no Jews in Toledo; the community was devastated in the 14th century during bloody riots that preceded the Inquisition. Yet, with important news such as this, there seemed to be a media blackout in Israel. In response to this and to alert the public, the Committee to Save Mt. Zion was created.

Investigation by the Committee led to documents including a purported draft deal between the Vatican and the State of Israel. Rabbi Nissim Elnecave, co-director of the ISFSP stated, "This is a serious matter, one that we have to pay close attention to. Zion is Yerushalayim, Mt. Zion is Jerusalem." Rabbinical authorities on Mt. Zion responded to the calls of the Committee to Save Mt. Zion to “go public” and they responded by declaring on three different Israel radio broadcasts that they had information to believe the Roman Catholic Church wants to built an extraterritorial Vatican in the Middle East right on Mt. Zion. One rabbi indicated that to this end, large envelopes of money were changing hands and ominous letters had been sent. Ellen Horowitz, an Israeli member of the Committee to Save Mt. Zion declared:

“It’s a potent mixture of religion, economics and greed -- charged with an “End of Days” atmosphere -- which has fueled the frantic land grab over Mt. Zion and other areas in Israel. Pieces of the Land of Israel are being haggled over and treated like some object in the shuk. And everybody wants a piece of the action.”

Bulletins from the Committee were sent around the world becoming the catalyst for serious discussion among rabbis and lay leaders of Jewish organization both in Israel and abroad. On November 2, 2005 the Jerusalem Post reported President Katsav had openly denied the trade of Mt. Zion. They also reported the president of the Pontifical Council of Religious Relations with the Jews, Cardinal Walter Kasper denied the deal. Speaking in response to this, the former Minister of Tourism and member of the Knesset, Benny Elon, told a Hebrew language newspaper that the denial by President Katzav’s office is, “A major achievement, and was the result of public pressure.” To this statement Shelomo Alfassa, executive director of the International Society for Sephardic Progress and co-founder of the Committee to Save Mt. Zion acknowledged:

“I have significant reason to believe that our pressure helped expose a potential and immediate handover that was likely part of the Vatican agenda for November 17th. I am confident that we caught both President Katsav and the Church officials off guard and the public pressure we created caused both parties to conclude they better suspend their quiet trade. It’s a bittersweet victory however, because we understand that plans for the re-development of Mt. Zion have indeed been underway and continue today. And while we know the Vatican has always wanted and continues to want Mt. Zion, we thank President Katsav for coming out on this matter in a public forum and allaying our fears that the land would not be handed over in the short term.”

The Committee to Save Mt. Zion is a project of the ISFSP in association with several dedicated journalists and activists residing in both Israel and the United States. The situation is not over yet, and we invite people to learn more by visiting the website: where you can view related documents, listen to audio clips and join the mailing list on this subject.


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