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Pope Francis touches the stones of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City May 26, 2014. Francis completes a tour of the Holy Land on Monday, paying homage to Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust and looking to affirm Christian rights at a disputed place of worship in Jerusalem.
Pope Francis touches the stones of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City May 26, 2014. Francis completes a tour of the Holy Land on Monday, paying homage to Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust and looking to affirm Christian rights at a disputed place of worship in Jerusalem.
(POOL/REUTERS)

PATRICK MARTIN

Why Israelis are wary of Christians from Rome

Israelis approach papal visits with trepidation, and no wonder: Since Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade in 1095, Jews (and Muslims) in the Holy Land have come to fear the arrival of Christians from Rome bearing arms.

The modern era is no different, though popes wield tools of soft power instead of lances and swords – their scolding or blessing can greatly influence the image and legitimacy of Israel in the minds of millions of people.