The ikhras awards committee is pleased to announce the Muntadhar Zaidi Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award for November, 2015 goes to Pope Tawadros II. Pope Tawadros earned this honor after embarking upon a normalizing visit to Jerusalem. The visit to the occupied Palestinian capital marks the first time the head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church has visited the city since it fell under Israeli occupation in 1967.
After the signing of the Camp David “peace accords” between” the Anwar Sadat regime and the usurping Zionist entity in 1978, the late Egyptian Pope Shenouda III issued a papal ban preventing members of the Egyptian Coptic Church from visiting the Arab city while under Israeli occupation. Israeli tourism to Egypt had boomed following the treaty, but it had little to no reciprocal effect on the part of Egyptians. The treaty, from the outset, as it remains today, was highly unpopular among all Egyptians making it unlikely that any significant number of Egyptians would visit occupied Palestine. Nevertheless, Pope Shenouda was a highly principled and politically astute leader and understood that any visits, even by a handful of Egyptians, including any Egyptian Coptic Christians, would be a propaganda victory for Israeli hasbarists. Pope Shenouda was the head of the church for over 40 years and remained opposed to any normalization with Israel until he died.
Although the Egyptian people were never consulted and could not prevent the treasonous, anti-Semitic, Nazi-sympathizer Sadat from entering into such an agreement, it never enjoyed any support or legitimacy at the popular level where Egyptians were able to confront it through an anti-normalization campaign which began in Egypt before later spreading to the rest of the Arab world. There is a popular saying among Egyptians to describe relations between the Zionist entity and Egypt after the Camp David accords: “awal men waqa3 wa akhir men taba3” (أول من وقع و آخر من طبع) which translates as “the first to sign, the last to normalize” (it rhymes in Arabic).
The trip was described as “exceptional” and for the sole purpose of heading the funeral prayer for Metropolitan Archbishop Abraham of Jerusalem and the Near East, the second most important figure following the Pope in the Coptic Holy Synod. However, the visit sparked controversy in Egypt and Church leaders were immediately put on the defensive. In an official statement following the backlash church leaders said:
“If it wasn’t for Archbishop Abraham’s will [which stated he wished to be buried in Jerusalem] Pope Tawadros wouldn’t have travelled to Jerusalem.”
The statement went on to add:
“There is no point for speculation and promotion of the idea of normalizing with Israel. The Church’s course is clear: we don’t bring religion into politics, or politics into religion, therefore the whole situation should not be assumed to be political.”
Pope Tawadros II is not the first clerical head of a church to earn the ikhras shoe-of-the-month award for visiting occupied Jerusalem. In May of last year Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai offered similar justifications for his infamous visit. However, no visit to Jerusalem, regardless of its officially stated purpose can be separated from politics. The damage that is done to the anti-normalization campaign is not mitigated simply because the trip does not take on an official political nature. The act of traveling to Jerusalem while under Israeli occupation has clear political ramifications which clerics, who operate as much as politicians as religious leaders, must undoubtedly understand.
The official Church statement went on to add:
“Pope Tawadros II did not visit Jerusalem with an Israeli visa, but through coordination with the Palestinian Authority.”
This is a laughable rationalization given that the Vichy regime in Ramallah known as the Palestinian National (illusory) Authority is itself an extension of the Israeli occupation and exercises no sovereignty over any Palestinians land, let alone the capital city. Oslo regime officials (who followed in the path of the late Sadat) themselves cannot travel from one Palestinian town to another without previously-authorized, written permission (in the form of “VIP” passes) from the Israeli occupation army.
We condemn all visits to Jerusalem of any religious or political leader outside the occupied Palestinian territories as it tacitly acknowledges the Israeli occupation authority’s stranglehold on Jerusalem and its heritage (religious) sites. Such visits, regardless of their stated official objectives, serve to promote normalization with the usurping Zionist entity and provide the Israeli occupation with a veil of legitimacy it has failed to attain despite the (in) formal agreements it achieved with Arab rulers. The only proper way for a religious, political, or any type of Arab leader to visit Jerusalem is at the head of an army of liberation. That liberation is near, but in the meantime, Egyptians, Palestinians, and all Arabs are determined to defeat all efforts at normalization with the Zionist entity. It is on their behalf we present Pope Tawadros II with the November, 2015 ikhras shoe-of-the-month.
The Muntadhar Zaidi Shoe-Of-The-Month is a recurring feature through which ikhras awards a shoe to the House Arab or Muslim individual or organization whose behavior that month stands out as an example of what Malcolm X described, in the language of his own time, as the “house negro” (see video). The award is named in honor of the brave Iraqi journalist Muntadhar Zaidi who threw his shoes at the war criminal George W. Bush at a time House Arabs and Muslims were dining with him at the White House and inviting him to their mosques. Arab dictators, political and religious leaders, traitors, and all puppets of the empire are also qualified to enter the shoe of the month competition based on their own subservience to U.S.-led global imperialism or normalization with the Zionist colonial project. Contest guidelines include the “James Zogby Rule” which prohibits any one individual or organization from winning the award more than 3 times a year.