I've criticised Vatican reactions to events in Lebanon, but two people make me appreciate how much the Catholic Church is moving away from its earlier anti-Semitism - even if it does sometimes seem to be at the same creeping speed as continental drift.
Here are two sons of the Church who embody the older prejudice and are caught in a Catholic time warp. Anyone who has been subjected to what passes for ‘news’ on the BBC these days will have heard Fergal Keane’s sentimental recital of Hezbollah propaganda against the Jewish State.
Keane had a Catholic upbringing in Ireland, although he says "I was raised as a Catholic, and I kind of drifted away big time from religion".
He seems still to be carrying elements of prejudice from childhood, and uninfluenced by changes in Church attitudes to Jews.
At convent school, many years ago, we used to be entertained by an old Irish nun who tried to discourage us from sex before marriage by telling gory cautionary tales about people who had not heeded such advice and came to a sticky end. With dreary melodrama, she would describe one couple being struck by lightning in their bed and fried to a crisp, or another couple, through some extraordinary accident, falling through a glass conservatory roof and dying painfully, blood spurting from their severed arteries, etc.
I wonder whether Fergal Keane was taught by Irish nuns? Keane’s doleful and hammy delivery reminds me very much of the Sister, and, like her, one knows it is basically dishonest and cheap emotional melodrama intended to promote a propaganda, not to inform.
Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, "You mother f****r. I'm going to f*** you." The report also says "Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he 'owns Malibu' and will spend all of his money to 'get even' with me."
The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?"
There is not much to be said for Gibson except that at least his anti-semitism is repulsively frank, at least when he is drunk. Keane’s is the sneaky, self-righteous sort, which masquerades as concern for those suffering - unless they are Jewish. He is sober and calculating while delivering material which demonises the Jewish State and its inhabitants.
Following the article, Pollard received a sympathetic letter from a BBC News staffer, who must remain anonymous in order to preserve his or her job at the BBC. That person wrote:
“Note how Sky does much of its work from Haifa and the BBC does it all from Beirut. Note how every piece done by the BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, questions whether or not Israel has carried out war crimes… The BBC have sent out Fergal Keane and Jeremy Bowen whose clear agenda is to… tell us Israel is a bastard state… There is no intelligence here, no in-depth questioning of why this conflict has erupted. No discussion of Syria, Iran and Middle East geopolitics. It’s a hammer with which to whack Israel.”
You can still hear criticism of the BBC and Fergal (“high on emotion, low on fact“) Keane on the most recent News Watch here.
(Reposted article by Maurice Ostroff)
UNIFIL has confirmed that Hizbollah fires regularly on UN posts and draws Israeli fire by firing their missies at Israel from the vicinity of UN positions.
On July 26, the daily UNIFIL press release[i] reported the Israeli bomb that had destroyed a UN post the day before, leading to UN Secretary General Anan’s infamous accusation that Israel deliberately attacked the site.
What the secretary general did not consider worth mentioning was the highly relevant information that attacks on UN posts by Hezbollah have been occurring almost daily and that Hezbollah have been drawing Israeli fire by lobbing their rockets at Israel from the vicinity of UN positions. The same UNIFIL press release reported that another UN position in the western sector was directly hit by Hizbollah mortar fire the same evening and that Hezbollah fired at Israel from the vicinity of four UN positions at Alma ash Shab, Tibnin, Brashit, and At Tiri.
On July 24, UNIFIL reported that one unarmed UN member of Observer Group Lebanon (OGL), was seriously wounded by small arms the previous afternoon originating, from preliminary reports, from the Hezbollah side. The UN evacuated him to the Israeli side, from where he was taken by IDF helicopter to a hospital in Haifa. He was operated on, and his condition was reported as stable. Of course there was not a word of thanks from the secretary general.
The July 25 UNIFIL report stated “This morning, Hezbollah opened small arms fire at a UNIFIL convoy consisting of two APC’s on the road between Kunin and Bint Jubayl.”
On July 27 It was also reported that Hezbollah fired from the vicinity of four UN positions at Marwahin, Alma Ash Shab, Brashit, and At Tiri.
On July 28, UNIFIL reported that Hezbollah fired from the vicinity of five UN positions at Alma Ash Shab, At Tiri, Bayt Yahoun, Brashit, and Tibnin.
UNIFIL also reported that since the outbreak of hostilities, four military observers from the OGL and one UNIFIL international staff member and his wife had been killed. In addition four Ghanaian soldiers, one Indian soldier, and one OGL military observer had been wounded. The report did not indicate the source of the fire.
An examination of UNIFIL reports shows clearly that the recent kidnapping of two IDF soldiers was not the principal cause of the present conflagration. Rather it results from Hezbollah’s consistent and continuous attacks on Israel, mainly with rocket fire aimed at civilian populations, ever since Israel left Lebanon in 2000. (See Background to how it all started.)
Another rogues' gallery, this time wearing clerical collars. Dexter Van Zile provides a summary of Mainline Christian Churches Respond to Hamas and Hezbollah Aggression
In the past few weeks, mainline Christian churches and their umbrella organizations have issued statements about Israeli response to the acts of aggression by Hamas and Hezbollah. These statements typically emphasize Israeli use of force and its impact on civilians — not the Arab violence and aggression that precipitated the current crisis and that continues with devastating consequences to Israeli, Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. In short, Israel is judged on the unintended consequences of efforts to protect its citizens, while Hamas and Hezbollah are typically given a pass on their openly-stated goal — the destruction of the Jewish State.
In this framework, churches portray the humanitarian crisis as almost exclusively a result of Israeli action. Ironically, certain Arab leaders have exhibited greater willingness to condemn Hezbollah’s provocations than mainline church leaders.
His review includes an examination of the responses of the Mennonite Central Committee, Evangelical Lutheran Church, United Methodist Church, National Council of Churches and United Church of Christ.
They are the biggest bunch of sinners. In addition, he points to “Other groups” who “while still disproportionately focused on Israel's response, were not quite as one-sided”. These are the Presbyterian Church (USA) and (surprisingly) Pax Christi, which was one-sided, but not quite as grotesquely so as the others.
Do read the whole article.
A rogues? gallery of Israel-haters, some familiar to those who read NGO-Monitor, has gone into action.
The letter is signed by Amnesty International UK, BASIC, CAFOD, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Medact, the Muslim Council of Britain, Oxfam, Save the Children, Unison, War on Want, the Welfare Association and World Vision UK.
For their latest attack on the Jewish State, they dress up in a big dove costume (rather like a pantomime goose ) with a large olive branch drooping from its beak. In this disguise, they coo gently, using words suggestive of peace.
They demand of Tony Blair that he support UN calls for an immediate cease-fire, without answering the question: how can a cease-fire be imposed on Hezbollah, which is not a state but a terrorist group? It would be rather like imposing a cease-fire on Al Qaida and America. Would Al Qaida take the slightest bit of notice?
Surely, this cease-fire could only be imposed on Israel, the victim, leaving Hezbollah, the aggressor, to do what it likes? And why support calls for a cease fire by the UN, which has a terrible record of injustice and hostility towards Israel, and has colluded with Hezbollah in attacks on Israel in the past?
No, the seedy old dove-costume worn by the Israel-haters is a threadbare thing, and one can see through it to the actors within. The cooing noises they make seem closer to growls. They just want Israel to cease its fire, and give Hezbollah a free hand, to render the northern part of tiny Israel uninhabitable and eventually destroy the whole country.
Perhaps the costume of a vulture would suit them better.
Against the Grain, which is part of the Ratzinger Fan Club is another of those Catholic blogs which support Israel, simply because the writer has a well developed moral sense and is able to distinguish between good and evil.
Currently, Against the Grain is offering a series entitled The War Against Israel - News and Commentary and also an exploration of "Proportionality" and Just War Theory.
The following story has been picked up by a few sites, but here it is presented by another Catholic blogger, American Papist, who is evidently more clear-sighted about the threats facing Israel than some Church leaders: Plea for Israel emerges from Irish bog. An Irish book of Psalms, dated to the years 800 – 1000, was found in a bog, open at Psalm 83.
Here is part of the psalm (emphases mine).
God, do not be silent; God, be not still and unmoved!
See how your enemies rage; your foes proudly raise their heads.
They conspire against your people, plot against those you protect.
They say, "Come, let us wipe out their nation; let Israel's name be mentioned no more!"
They scheme with one mind, in league against you:
The tents of Ishmael and Edom, the people of Moab and Hagar,
Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek, Philistia and the inhabitants of Tyre.
Assyria, too, in league with them gives aid to the descendants of Lot
Other people have quoted that part of the psalm, pointing out how relevant it is today, but I'll add the final section:
My God, turn them into withered grass, into chaff flying before the wind.
As a fire raging through a forest, a flame setting mountains ablaze,
Pursue them with your tempest; terrify them with your storm.
Cover their faces with shame, till they pay you homage, LORD.
Let them be dismayed and shamed forever; let them perish in disgrace.
Show them you alone are the LORD, the Most High over all the earth.
If all this is too serious for you, or you are filled with anxiety for Israel, calm down with some therapy. (Have your sound turned on)