VATICAN CITY - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given Pope Francis a book about the Inquisition in Spain that was written by his late father.
Netanyahu presented a Spanish translation of the 1995 book, "The Origins of the Inquisition," to Francis during their 25-minute private audience Monday.
Netanyahu's father, Ben-Zion Netanyahu, was an Israeli historian who died last year. A Zionist activist who opposed partitioning Palestine between Arabs and Jews, he was best known in academic circles for his research into the Catholic Church's medieval inquisition against the Jews of Spain.
"To his Holiness Pope Franciscus, a great shepherd of our common heritage," the Israeli leader wrote on the inside front page of the book.
Later Monday, Netanyahu met with Italian Premier Enrico Letta.
Reviews of the book itself indicate it is a massive tome -- more than 1,400 pages -- that attempts to pin down the origins of modern anti-Semitism, and also attempts to show how the Spanish Inquisition gave it a dangerous new twist. The elder Netanyahu argued in his book that many of the victims of the Inquisition were not “secret Jews,” but instead were faithful Christian converts who were persecuted nonetheless for political reasons. This is exemplified by the Inquisition’s attacks on the converts’ “impure blood,” i.e. their race, which gave birth to many anti-Semitic ideas that persist today.
In addition to his father’s book, Netanyahu also presented the pope with a Hanukkah menorah. Monday night marks the sixth of eight days of the Jewish Festival of Lights and Feast of Dedication.