What might lie at the heat of the banning from Russia of Moscow's chief rabbi Pinkhas Goldschmidt? Perhaps this, excerpted from an article he wrote last month for the International Herald Tribune, shortly before leaving Russia for a trip to Israel:
Following in the illustrious footsteps of his predecessor John Paul II, and as a worthy heir to John XXIII, Pope Benedict has opened his arms to Jews around the world.
And we, in our turn, wish to open our arms to those of the Catholic faith.
As the greatest experts on earth on religious survival as a besieged minority, we can help Catholic believers to retain their human dignity, their human rights, their religious freedom, their right to be different, their right to hold on to their beliefs in the face of emerging existential threats.
We, the Jewish people, are reaching out to the Catholic Church in brotherhood. Let us try to start the third millennia of Jewish-Christian relations with renewed hope and mutual goodwill, and also with mutual respect and dignity.
If we are both to survive among the oldest civilizations on earth, we must rise to meet the daunting challenges, both internal and external, that are facing us.
The trick used to annul Rabbi Goldschmidt's visa had previously been used only to bar Catholic and Evangelical religious leaders from Russia. Rabbi Goldschmidt's reaching out to Catholics – who, like Evangelicals are persecuted minorties in Russia – may have been the tipping point. Putin has no tolerence for Catholics. He also detests Rabbi Goldschmidt because of the rabbi's support of democracy. As noted earlier, Rabbi Goldschmidt is an enemy of Chabad and it's 'chief rabbi' Berel Lazar. Lazar is Putin's lap dog. The banning of Rabbi Goldschmidt is good for both of them. You do the math.