(Cue music from “Jaws”). Just when you thought it was safe to go in the Vatican again...
Israel is attacked, and the figure of a Cardinal emerges from the shadows and moves with sinister ruthlessness towards his word processor (or perhaps his quill pen and inkpot). He smells blood, and starts to compose a statement which will take another bite out of the victim.
“As in the past, the Holy See also condemns both the terrorist attacks of the one and the military retaliation of the other. In fact, the right of a state to defend itself does not exempt it from respecting the norms of international law, especially in those matters concerning the protection of the civilian population. In particular, the Holy See deplores the attack on Lebanon, a free and sovereign nation, and confirms its closeness to the people of Lebanon, who have already suffered so much in the defense of their independence.”
In comparison with the words pronounced by Benedict XVI at the Angelus two days later, one notes in this declaration from Sodano a more unbalanced position against Israel, which is given almost the entire weight of responsibility for the extension of the conflict into Lebanon.
Ever since Benedict XVI started his reign, the Pope has been trying to improve relations between the Catholic Church and Jews. It has become clear that the new, improved attitude of the Vatican has yet to be transferred to the Jewish State.
Sandro Magister examines this in Israel Is Fighting for its Life, but the Vatican “Deplores”
The Papal response to the violent attack on Israel, and Israel’s attempt to prevent further attacks, is to say: “At the origin of these devastating confrontations there are, unfortunately, objective situations of the violation of law and justice. But neither terrorist acts nor retaliation can be justified, especially when these come with tragic consequences for the civilian population.”
One gathers from these words that with Benedict XVI, the Vatican’s politics in regard to the state of Israel have not changed substantially. The innovations he has introduced so far concern, instead, the relationship between the two religions, Christianity and Judaism.
Furthermore, it is striking that Benedict XVI is not defending the existence of Israel – which its enemies want to annihilate as the final aim of the conflict underway – with the same explicit, strong determination with which he repeatedly raises his voice in defense of the “non-negotiable” principles concerning human life.
Will Vatican attitudes improve once Arafat-admirer Cardinal Sodano has been replaced as Secretary of State by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone? We can only hope so.
Meanwhile the Pope has endorsed the G-8 declaration on the Middle East
It’s easy to bandy the word “disproportionate” around, isn’t it? Easier than thinking, and may even give the false impression that one does indeed think, because one uses long words like, well, “disproportionate”.
Do those who complain that Israel is giving a disproportionate response mean that Israel should mimic Hezbollah and indiscriminately rain missiles down on the people of Lebanon, with the intention of killing and injuring as many innocents as possible? No, we know what they really mean. They want the number of dead Jews to match exactly the number of dead Arabs. It seems more like a form of entertainment to them, in which two equally matched partners are set to fight one another.
That brings me to the disproportionate use of references to eyes and teeth. Anti-semites like to use “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” to suggest that Jews are vengeful. It really means that any punishment should be – wait for it – proportionate to the crime, and not disproportionate. Not a head for an eye, or an eye for a tooth, in other words.
Israel isn’t being vengeful in this case, anyway, but trying to prevent Hezbollah from continuing its attacks. If Israel wanted to be vengeful, it would be capable of killing thousands, or tens of thousands, instead of which it drops warning leaflets.
Here is a Presbyterian complaint about "disproportionate force" and here the Lebanese patriarch tells Cheney Israel's response is not proportionate
Meanwhile, some ordinary Catholics, who can think for themselves instead of repeating the latest fashionable word, see the situation differently
30 Catholic educators visiting northern Israel as part of the ADL's Advance Bearing Witness program, had a “near-brush” with some Hezbollah missiles, which left them sympathetic to the Israelis.
"It is not easy to be in that situation when you are surrounded by people (who are your enemies)," she said. "We can sit across the ocean and smugly say 'What a mess that is; they don't want peace,' (but) it saddens me that as Americans we don't get a very complete picture of the situation. The situation here is beyond politics; it is much deeper. I wish every American could understand the situation here more clearly and on a deeper level."
Many from the group decided to participate in an emergency blood drive.
"This has given me a much greater empathy for the Israeli people than reading the newspaper would. Being here at this time with the troubles has touched me deeply," said Garcia. "People who are condemning Israel are not considering the whole situation and don't appreciate the position (Israel) is in (with) neighbors putting her in danger."
Israel is doing what it needs to do to protect the country with its strong response against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, said Garcia.
"From my position I wouldn't condemn (Israel)," she said, despite the high number of civilian casualties in Lebanon. "Israelis don't set out to kill civilians."
The Vatican newspaper is showing its bias again, and also its ignorance. It objects to Israel defending itself and wants the largely anti-Israel UN to
bring about peace, love and joy protect Hezbollah.
Roman L'Osservatore Romano has denounced at the weekend the UN's "do-nothing policy" about the Middle East crisis due to the "crossed vetoes" in the Security Council, and lamented "the death of human law."
"The UN, reduced to the do-nothing policy while Lebanon burns," titles the newspaper, and assures that "the dynamics of the crossed vetoes that is used in the Security Council prevents the adoption of concrete support measures for international legality."
The journalists at L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, have short memories. Apart from forgetting that the UN is dominated by Islamic despots and their cronies, who hate Israel, they forget the incident in which UN forces colluded with Hezbollah. Remember? UN forces lent uniforms and vehicles to the terrorists, who used the disguise to kidnap and murder Israeli soldiers. The UN then refused to hand over film it had taken of the incident, in order to protect the terrorists.
There is even suspicion that UN troops helped Hezbollah with that particular kidnapping.
But the UN says it first has to obscure the faces of people in the film suspected of being Hezbollah guerrillas, in order to protect UN staff from retribution.
Both the Lebanese authorities and the Hezbollah movement say the tape should not be handed over under any circumstances.
Here, to remind you, is L'Osservatore Romano's response to the invasion of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem by Palestinian terrorists.
Lamdan said the Vatican’s diplomats had a “realistic, accurate evaluation,” but there were discordant voices within the Holy See. L’Osservatore Romano, for example, the official Vatican newspaper, regularly referred to the standoff as an Israeli “siege,” even accusing the Israelis of trying to “exterminate” the Palestinian people. The paper falsely reported, Lamdan charged, that the Israelis had killed a Catholic priest and injured a group of Brigittine nuns. The paper ran photos showing Israeli soldiers “in the worst possible light,” Lamdan said. At one point, Jewish leaders accused L’Osservatore of anti-Semitism.
Or maybe L'Osservatore Romano doesn’t follow the news. After all, why bother about facts when writing about Israel? Why not just follow the common media practice and publish a page full of prejudice instead?
On 16 July, which is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel for Catholics, Hezbollah missiles hit Haifa, in the area of the Carmelite Shrine, killing innocent Israelis.
The Pope made comments about this which suggests that he has no idea what is going on in Lebanon.
But neither terrorist acts nor reprisals, especially when they have tragic consequences for the civilian population, can ever be justified.
He appears to think that Israel’s careful strikes at targets which are intended to hit Hezbollah or prevent them from receiving weapons from Iran or Syria are ‘reprisals’. He repeats the lie that Israel is punishing the Lebanese people by targeting civilians. You know - the eye for an eye saying that is wilfully misinterpreted by anti-Semites to mean that Jews are vengeful, rather than practising a justice which demands that punishment be proportionate to the crime. Ekklesia (who else?) provides an example in Christians call for end to Lebanon violence as Israel vows revenge
The Israelis have tried to avoid civilian casualties by warning inhabitants to evacuate areas about to be targeted. It shouldn’t be beyond the power of the ‘journalists’ who write Ekklesia to find that out.
The Pope also describes Hezbollah’s gratuitous attack on Israeli soldiers in their own country as “terrorist acts” when they are, in fact, acts of war, calling for a response of self-defence.
Where does he get his information? Is his Secretariat of State, run by Cardinal Sodano, that admirer of Arafat, feeding him the sort of prejudiced distortions one might expect from Israel-haters at the Independent, the Guardian, or the BBC?
The Pope adds:
Taking such paths, as bitter experience has shown, does not lead to positive results.
If Israel is able to defeat Hezbollah, which is part of the jihad against the rest of the world, including, among others, Christians and Bahai, that will lead to positive results. We should thank Israel for what she is doing.
Should Jews be allowed to defend themselves as other peoples do? This is always a good litmus test for hypocrisy. For those observing the reactions of Christian leaders to Israel's efforts to defend herself from attacks by Hezbollah, there is already an interesting range to choose from.
So - three cheers for the U.S. Christian organizations who back the Lebanon operation
"This was certainly an unprovoked attack and Israel has every right to go in and pound them," said Ray Sanders, executive director of Christian Friends of Israel. "It needs to be made very clear that what they [Hezbollah] have done is an act of injustice and Israel has every right to defend herself."
Evangelist radio host Earl Cox of Front Page Jerusalem Global Radio Network called the Hezbollah incursions "barbaric acts of terrorism" and called on his following to contact their representatives to "demand" that the United Nations Security Council "take action in support of Israel."
The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem said that "Israel has a right to defend herself" and voiced support for the country's measures to ensure "peace and security in the region."
And boos and rotten tomatoes for the Vatican Secretary of State who produced this statement:
"In particular, the Holy See deplores the attack on Lebanon, a free and sovereign nation," he said, adding that the Vatican is close to the Lebanese people, "who already have suffered much to defend their independence."
Just a reminder about Cardinal Sodano and where his sympathies lie.
The change of course desired by Benedict XVI also draws the Church closer to Israel. Sodano was a great admirer of Yasser Arafat, and is a supporter of the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, who is ardently pro-Palestinian. But pope Ratzinger immediately flanked Sabbah with a more moderate auxiliary who will succeed him in two years, Fouad Twal of Jordan, previously the archbishop of Tunis. And is planning to appoint as the bishop of the Hebrew Christians who live in the state of Israel the present custodian of the Holy Land, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who is viewed very favorably by the Israeli authorities.
As the article says: "He should be the pope’s foremost collaborator. But for Benedict XVI, cardinal Angelo Sodano is more of an obstacle than a help."
Does he or doesn't he speak for the Benedict XVI in his statement? Or would the Pope agree more with this?
As for the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Franciscan Father David Jaeger, an Israeli citizen, told Vatican Radio, "The Lebanese government has a choice: It can continue to allow Hezbollah to control southern Lebanon or it can show some courage, reaffirm Lebanese sovereignty and suppress Hezbollah."
As the Pope is on holiday, we don't yet know.
Now just wait for all the Christian agencies who are weeping and wailing over a non-existent 'humanitarian disaster' in Gaza to move their attention to Lebanon and find a new excuse to attack Israel.