NEW YORK (Jan. 16)
Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum informed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that yesterday’s meeting between Pope Paul VI and Premier Golda Meir of Israel was “held in a completely friendly, warm and constructive spirit” and that the Pope himself regarded it as an historic event.
Rabbi Tanenbaum, co-secretary of the joint Vatican-International Jewish Committee and director of the American Jewish Committee’s interreligious affairs department, told the JTA that he obtained his information in telephone conversations last night with high-ranking Catholic and Israeli sources in Rome. He said he learned that the “invitation for the visit grew out of a common desire that was reached in cordial conversations between the Vatican Secretariate of State and the Israeli Ambassador to Italy; it was not contrived nor imposed by either side.”
The rabbi said that Mrs. Meir was received at the Vatican “with the same protocol and ceremonial correctness that was accorded to President Nixon on his last visit to Rome.” He said that when the Pope welcomed Mrs. Meir to his study he “blessed her personally and blessed the State of Israel.” According to Rabbi Tanenbaum’s sources, “The Pontiff declared that he regarded the meeting between them as an historic event and Mrs. Meir responded by saying that she agreed.”
Rabbi Tanenbaum said that it was clear from his information that a verbal statement yesterday by Frederico Allessandrini “was a fundamental misrepresentation and distortion of both the spirit of the meeting and of the issues and understandings that were arrived at.”