The Vatican released a working paper during Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Cyprus to prepare the way for a crisis summit of Middle East bishops in Rome. What I take away from this- along with the Holy See’s call for lifting the blockade of Gaza- is something of a vindication for my more raw views urging for a sea change in American Catholic opinion and action regarding the overall situation in the Middle East, and in Israel-Palestine in particular.
With the news of Israel’s blockade of Gaza still hot all around the world because of the Israeli attack on the activist boats- I think it is important to look back and assess how we have got to this point of chaos, confusion and rage.
Some Information You Should Know About The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (From Jewish Voice For Peace)
It is always time to step back and review the record whenever a discussion starts up on “what’s the deal with that crazy Israel/Palestine conflict?”. It is tiresome to be on the losing end of the political fight in shaping American policies regarding the Middle East- It is maddening to have to always be on the defense against the charges of anti-Semitism when one is highly critical of the policies of the State of Israel- especially when being anti-Semitic as in being anti-Arab is all the rage today, while being anti-Jewish is one of the worst things any American could be accused of. I am bold in my own words and deeds on this issue because I have nothing to hide, no shameful anti-Semitism, no axe to grind, no family connections- just a strong desire to see the Holy Land be a place that is humane and just, and to see to it that my own nation is a contributor to a positive outcome for the peoples of the Middle East. That’s it- that’s my storyline- that’s my truth.
I don’t hate America, I hate the sin but love the sinner. I love my nation but I hate when my nation does something in my name as an American citizen that I believe is really evil, really stupid, or both. It is a glaring fact that America has been the #1 ally and supporter of the State of Israel- both in economic and political terms. This fact of life is not missed by those who believe that the State of Israel has been the primary agent of violence and injustice in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Iagree with this perspective, and I want to change the reality because it is the right thing to do, and many lives all over the region, and even here in the U.S. are in present or potential harm’s way due to some really bad, one-sided, and misguided policies emanating from Tel Aviv and Washington D.C.
I am not going to run over my own story of the time I spent with Archbishop Elias Chacour of Ibillin, Galilee many years ago- and what I saw in Hebron at that time. And I am not going to run down the list of books I have read to get additional background to the Conflict which has shaped and emboldened my position on this important Catholic and American issue. I am not going to take the chance of being charged with any sort of anti-Semitism with this blog entry because I am going to use a source that is decidedly Jewish. I want an elevated discussion to get going and I don’t want my Catholicism to get into the way- one could (I suppose) make the charge that the organization Jewish Voice For Peace is full of self-loathing Jews, who hate Israel, hate themselves- whatever. But I think they can manage such charges for themselves- I met some of them when I used to visit San Francisco frequently- they seemed pretty secure in themselves. I think they are a good source of information and here they provide a primer on the Israel-Palestine Conflict 101 (from Jewishvoiceforpeace.org):
I’m generally sympathetic to Israel. Despite its faults, it’s one of the most stable and liberal regimes in the region, and many of its critics fail to account for the corrosive effect on the national consciousness of being surrounded by peoples who want them exterminated and routinely take steps (however ineffective) to visit random violence upon them.
However, while it’s easy to understand their seige mentality, this doesn’t mean that this mentality does not at times cause them to go to far and put themselves in the wrong. In this regard, I think Megan McArdle has a pretty good and balanced response to the attack on the “Freedom Flotilla”: Continue reading
In his latest article for InsideCatholic.com, Deal Hudson presents Ten Hard Facts Confronting Benedict XVI in the Holy Land concerning the plight of Palestinian Christians.
One would expect that — when presenting a list of “hard facts”, particularly a topic as provocative as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — elementary journalistic standards would require the citation of a source.
Furthermore, one might expect the placement of such statistics in context to further enable a moral evaluation.
That Hudson completely neglects to do this is frustrating, to say the least.
In February, a group of Palestinian Christians asked Pope Benedict XVI to call off his planned visit to Israel and the West Bank, concerned that his visit would “help boost Israel’s image and inadvertently minimize Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation.” (Haaretz).
Adopting a different approach, Ma’an News Agency reports that a petition raised by the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, the University of San Francisco, and several other U.S. peace organizations asking Pope Benedict XVI to make a stop in the Gaza Strip has received over 2000 signatures.
In a recent post to InsideCatholic.com, Deal Hudson raises the question: Should Benedict XVI Include Gaza in his Holy Land Visit? — answering in the affirmative: