Israel has welcomed the election of the new Pope Benedict XVI, saying it hopes he will follow the lead of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. “We are sure that under his papacy we will continue to see a strengthening relationship between Israel and the Vatican and between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church," said government spokesman Mark Regev. But Benedict’s association with a paramilitary Nazi youth group has aroused concern, even though membership was compulsory. The banner headline in Israel's biggest newspaper, “Yediot Ahronot,” said: "White smoke, black past." Nevertheless, Jewish leaders say what Benedict has done as an adult is what counts. "In all matters of anti-Semitism, Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, has been absolutely resolute in his understanding of the evil and the danger and in condemnation of this phenomenon,” said Rabbi David Rosen, a leader in interfaith dialogue who has met Benedict several times.”
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