Pope Runs Amok
(Published on homepage of VirtualJerusalem.com on April
1, 2000 - April Fool's Day)
In what can only be described as the biggest media gaffe in history,
Pope John Paul II was last night denied entry into Israel after
a passport control officer, Ms Ahava Amichai, declared his visa
invalid. The Papal entourage, numbering close to 400 men, turned
as white as their frocks upon hearing the news, and then fell
to their knees, whether in a faint or in
prayer, could not be established.
Ms Amichai, visibly unmoved by the commotion, informed the delegation
that "[I] don't care who he is, rules are rules, and no one
visits Israel without a valid visa." At this moment, Cardinal
Matthew IV, the Papal spokesman, hurdled his kneeling colleagues
(no mean feat for a guy in a dress) charged up to the clerk and
demanded an apology on behalf of the delegation. There was a hushed
silence from the 2,000-member press core as Ms Amichai readied
her caustic response.
It never came. Instead, from behind the glass partition of the
Pope's in-door Pope-mobile, came a soft knocking. Everyone, including
the clerk, the Cardinal and the press, turned their attention
to the little wizened man in the transparent booth. And then his
voice was heard:
"Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris,"* he muttered
to the clerk with a saintly look on his face, "but in the
meantime woman, what's it gonna take to get me to Jerusalem? The
pilgrims and my helicopter are waiting! Holy smokes, let's not
disappoint all those Jerusalem commuters who are expecting to
be stuck in traffic all afternoon."
(At this juncture, Gerald Kessel from CNN was heard to comment
to his producer, "My God, he sounds just like Tony Soprano!")
Ms Amichai, still about as moved by the Papal ire as Beethoven
at a Def Leppard concert, rose from her cubicle, and announced
matter-of-factly that it was time for her coffee break. Three
seconds later, she was gone, minus a puff of smoke.
Instantly, the Papal delegation arose from their knees and began
to round up packs of peripheral pilgrims in an effort to propel
Israeli bureaucracy forward by inciting a religious riot. In all
the commotion and blinding flash photography, the Pope somehow
managed to escape from his vehicle, shuffling on foot with the
aid of a large crucifix, out the doors of Ben
Gurion Airport. He has not been seen since. However, twenty minutes
ago, at exactly 18:09 IST, an anonymous caller with a thick Israeli
accent, called the Ha'aretz Daily Newspaper, and issued the following
message on behalf of Pope John Paul II:
"I guess what they say about Israeli bureaucracy is true.
Bunch of meshugoyim! I am alive and well and thrilled to be out
of my stuffy little Pope-mobile. Please do not attempt to find
me - I'm having the time of my life with my new friend, cab driver
Motti! Apologies to all my faithful pilgrims and staff, but with
all due respect to you blessed people, get a life already!
Veni Vidi Vici Baruch Hashem Allah Waqbar!"
*If Caesar were alive, you'd be chained to an oar.