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July 17, 2006

Comments

Janice

Yeah, it's pretty accurate. The Vatican seems to have no concept of an asymmetric war. And, funny enough, Israel's ALWAYS wrong. There's no mention of the civilians (so beloved by the Vatican) killed by Hamas, Hezbollah, et al. I wish Benedict would just keep his mouth shut when he doesn't know what he talking about.

Tony A

He should keep his mouth shut???

Janice, you sound like a pro-abortion spokewoman, to be frank. I love it when the right turns against the church and the pope when their secular ideology is challenged.

By the way, as somebody once wrote, this man probably forgot more theology than the rest of ever even knew. He is one of the most brilliant men ever to sit on the throne of Peter. But, according to you, he doesn't know what he's talking about. I guess he should forget about the just war principles and instead just tune into Fox News.

This cartoon is disgusting, and horrendously anti-Catholic (just look at how the pope is betrayed). It's a shameful attempt to invoke the specter of the holocaust and anti-Semitism to justify the actions of a state that makes war based on the principle retribution (lex talionis) more than the just war principles (especially proportionality).

Janice

Tony A,

He probably does know more theology than anyone else. That doesn't mean he knows more international politics than anyone else and it shows. He needs to sit back and wait until he has something to say before he makes things worse.

Sydney Carton

It's accurate insofar as that Israel is always blamed, and the terrorists aren't.

But Benedict didn't say anything to deserve that characterization.

mrp

It's way out of line. Portraying the Holy Father using the tip of his crozier as a spear - inflicting injury on a bound, prostrate Jew is malignant. I'm surprised Cox&Forkum didn't draw a little Hakenkreuz on the mitre.

I support Israel's right to defend itself, and one can make a strong argument that the Vatican's statements smack of moral equivalency; but I strongly suspect that the Holy See's main concern in this matter is the Maronite community. Until this morning, the Israeli government has been very circumspect about its immediate objectives, and it is perfectly understandable that Jerusalem's actions will serve Israeli interests, not the Vatican's. Should the Holy Father strongly back Israel, only to have Israel agree to a cease-fire that leaves the Christians in Lebanon vulnerable to Hizbollah/Syrian/Iranian retaliation?

There is precedent - see "1915; Armenian Holocaust in Turkey". And with Hizbollah's enormous arsenal of short/medium range missiles, that organization has firepower orders of magnitude greater than that held by the opposing sects during the 1980s civil war.

Yurodivi

"I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you."

Cdl. Sodano is not speaking for his holiness Pope Benedict, so in that sense the cartoon is not fair; but if it's "anti-catholic," it's also francophobic, russophobic and hispanophobic. (Maybe galiciaphobic?)

The difference between the Israelis and their enemies, who compass them round about, is that if the enemies stopped fighting, there would be peace. If Israel laid down its arms, there would be no more Israel. The Jews are no more obligated than anyone else to go meekly to their own immolation, and the insinuation that their self-defense is morally equivalent to suicide bombers is repugnant.

So generally speaking, except for the misportrayal of Benedict, the cartoon is spot-on in its depiction of the world's attitude to Israel. As Menachem Begin said of the similar reaction to the Sabra and Shatilah tragedies, "Goyim kill Goyim, and they blame the Jews."

Janice

Benedict has referred in the past to the damage done by terrorists who kill in the name of God. So how come he failed to do it in this case? Now, Benedict falls all over himself trying to throw a blanket of moral equivalence over the situation.

Todd

"That doesn't mean he knows more international politics than anyone else and it shows."

Substitute "human biology" for "international politics" and see who lines up behind that statement.

Malkin seems to get incensed about a lot of things. Why would anyone pay attention?

And yes, the Vatican's stand on this has been simplified for easy digestion. Sometimes complex situations just have people scratching their heads when a bomb makes it so much simpler.

Yurodivi

Janice,

calm down. It was Cdl. Sodano who spoke on this issue, not the Pope.

Christopher Fotos

At a minimum it's no less accurate than how Sodano and our Pope Benedict are describing the conflict. Sodano:

"As in the past, the Holy See also condemns both the terrorist attacks on the one side and the military reprisals on the other,” Cardinal Sodano said.

He stressed that Israel has a “right to self-defense,” but that “does not exempt it from respecting the norms of international law, especially as regards the protection of civilian populations.”

Until "the Vatican" does a better job of distinguishing between a military unintentionally killing civilians and an anti-Semitic terror organization whose purpose is to kill as many Jews as possible, including civilians, it will get more of the same, and I am very sorry to say, deserves to.

Pope Benedict:

In recent days the news from the Holy Land is a reason for new and grave concern for all, in particular because of the spread of warlike actions also in Lebanon, and because of the numerous victims among the civilian population. At the origin of these cruel oppositions there are, sadly, objective situations of violation of law and justice. But neither terrorist acts nor reprisals, especially when they entail tragic consequences for the civilian population, can be justified. By such paths, as bitter experiences shows, positive results are not achieved.

Multiple statements of grave concern do not, with all sincerely due respect, protect Israel from terrorism. The bitter experience of Israel is that after they withdraw from contested areas, whether under international blessing as from Lebanon or unilaterally from Gaza, these areas are then used as operating areas to launch more terror attacks. I don't expect the Catholic Church to advocate for war. I hope it is not too much to expect some kind of recognition that Israel faces an existential threat.

I'm much more upset with what the official voices of the Church are saying than with this cartoon.

Delance

Cox and Forkum = Objectivism = Atheists = Anti-Catholics. That's as simple as it gets. They are in favor os Israel doing anything - For Cox and Forkum and the Objectivists, Israel is never wrong, and can never be wrong, on any issue.

Delance

This was not the first, and won't be the last time they show up a cartoon against the Church.

They have a cartoon of a little boy on a wheelchair, bound by the ignorance of the evil Catholic Church who prevents scientific advancements who could save him. Evil, obscurantist religion is always to blame.

For them, every religion is evil, period, unless it concurs with their secular worldview.

Donna

In the past, I was very heartened by what the Pope had to say about Islam, because I felt that he was one of the very few Europeans who seemed to understand the threat of Islamic terrorism. And the Church has made great strides in its relationship with the Jewish people.

That's why I found this Vatican statement so disheartening (and, indeed, downright embarrassing).

William

How odd it is when orthodox Catholics, of which I’m one, will quote and quote Vatican sources and the Pope not only on theology, but political issues as well. That is until the Vatican or the Pope say something critical of Israel. Suddenly Joe Catholic with his myopic view from America knows more. It would be funny if it weren’t truly sad. Over the weeks and months as Israel’s attack continues and even stronger condemnation comes from Rome, we may well see lines drawn among orthodox Catholics over this issue in a big way. Israel or the Church?

Mark Gordon

Sorry, but on most international issues - and especially when it concerns Israel - the pope and his curial bureaucrats always parrot the conventional wisdom of European elites. That's who they are and that's what they sound like.

Pseudo-Thomas

The approbation from Pope Benedict was, to my mind, of a completely different character than that of Sodano. Sodano singled out Israel, didn't mention the terrorists, and came across sounding like he let Pax Christi write his statement.

Pope Benedict, however, actually pointed out the one bit of nuiance that I think almost nobody wants to acknowledge - that perhaps Israel's response was disproportionate. I'm not convinced that's true, but whatever you think about the merits of his position, Pope Benedict isn't the one behaving like a simple-minded, ignorant loud-mouth.

Also, don't be naive enough to think that some media outlet won't run a cartoon with Pope Benedict jabbing the Prophet Muhammad with a crucifix if he ever expresses even the slightest hint of endorsement of any western military action in a Muslim nation. The Vatican's position on the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan is perhaps the only instance I can think of which fails this rule. The Vatican said the U.S. had the right to defend itself, which presumably included strikes against those nations that directly aided the 9-11 attacks. Not much criticism then from the media. Imagine the field day they'd be having on the Church if PJPII hadn't expressed reservations about the invasion of Iraq, though . . .

Come to think of it, the Holy Father will probably be blamed in some capacity for each and every serious military conflict, because as the western-media-elite-assumption runs, war is always the result of the wacky beliefs of religious cooks, and nobody is as warped, cooky, and worst of all, politically motivated as the Catholic Pope.

Yet we complain that the Holy Father of all people should keep his mouth closed. There are some popes in history that we can all wish never sat in the chair, much less spoke from it. My friends, this is not one of them. Listen to him before you criticize him.

WRY

Why does the cartoon show Israel down on the floor, tied? This is quite inaccurate. Israel is stronger militarily and doing more of the killing. It is under no restraint whatsoever except for that it chooses on its own. And I don't see that the European responses depicted amount to the acts of violence suggested by the clubs and kicks.
To me, what the cartoon suggests is that any criticism of Israel's actions is supposed to be seen as an act of violence against Israel.
Talk about disproportion!

Simon

I must say, as one who is generally pro-Israel (or, more accurately, vehemently opposed to the Islamists and Arab nationalists who want to eradicate Israel) that the reactions of so many Catholics here to the rather mild Vatican statement -- going so far as to endorse this disgusting cartoon -- suggest practical atheism. The world view of such commentators is formed more by National Review Online than by Christian understanding. Sad.

And the facile attempts to equate the chosen people of the Old Testament with the modern political entity which also happens to use the name "Israel" is, frankly, embarassing.

S Ampleforth

What the Pope says on international affairs will always be a PRUDENTIAL JUDGEMENT, which he exercises not only from the office of Bishop of Rome and Sovereign Pontiff, but also as a head of state with a seat at the UN. So keep all of this in mind. Therefore, you can disagree with Sodano's statements and this does not make you a "Secular ideologue" or heretic. The issue of abortion is quite another matter -- people know that, I think, instinctively, until they get all sanctimonious.

M.Z. Forrest

Considering that Europe is significantly closer to the Middle East than we are, it is pure hubris to assert they are ignorant on the matter. Despite 9/11, Europe has a longer history of death and destruction than this country will probably ever know.

The hyperbole of the cartoon is quite nice. What are at worst oral condemnations of Israel's conduct are portrayed as the mob beating of a defenseless man. Ironically, Israel is intentionally bombing Lebanonize civilians with the imprimatur of the Israeli government. Yet, we still see this outpouring of support for poor, defenseless Israel. We have people in this country advocating for a World War.

To top it all off, we have American Catholics nuancing the portrayal of the Pope as a thug.

Yurodivi

Simon,

please point out to me where and when God retracted all his promises to Israel; I can't seem to find it in my Bible. Then I'll believe that the "modern political entity [that] also happens to use the name 'Israel'" has no connection whatever with the Jews of the Old Testament.

As far as Israel being "free," I think that's ridiculous on its face. Israel is instantly condemned no matter what it does in reprisal. It's always the Jews' fault, if you read the newspaper. How they can report stories of antisemitism with a straight face is beyond me -- they don't see how they indulge it in their own reportage.

Simon

It is indeed a prudential judgment. But it is a prudential judgment of our spiritual FATHER, the Pope.

We may find ourselves in disagreement with that judgment, but the tone of outrage and support for this dishonest cartoon ("the Vatican is getting what it deserves!") is simply not Christian.

Neither is does this nonsense about supporting Israel unreservedly because of the Old Testament blessing ("I will bless those who bless you...") have anything to do with Christianity.

Do you suppose, by the way, that ANY Christians at the time of the apostles supported the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 70 AD or the Bar Kochba revolt in 130? The reaction of the Early Church seems overwhelmingly to have been pro-Roman in those conflicts. So much the notion that Christians believe God blesses those who rally around the Israeli military no matter what.

Donna

Europe has a longer history of death and destruction than this country will probably ever know.

True. And much of it was conducted against Jews by Europeans - which is why Israel is right to take any European condemnations of it's actions with a truckload of salt.

Putin calling for "restraint" - now, that's rich.

William

"I must say, as one who is generally pro-Israel (or, more accurately, vehemently opposed to the Islamists and Arab nationalists who want to eradicate Israel) that the reactions of so many Catholics here to the rather mild Vatican statement -- going so far as to endorse this disgusting cartoon -- suggest practical atheism." Simon, exactly! This is why it is so dangerous for Catholics to be sucked in by politics based on dispensationalism. Thanks for your frank reflection.

Sydney Carton

"Israel is intentionally bombing Lebanonize civilians with the imprimatur of the Israeli government."

I think you meant to say that Hezbollah is intentionally bombing Israeli citizens. Because otherwise, your statement makes you look like a complete moron or a deliberate liar.

Simon

please point out to me where and when God retracted all his promises to Israel; I can't seem to find it in my Bible. Then I'll believe that the "modern political entity [that] also happens to use the name 'Israel'" has no connection whatever with the Jews of the Old Testament.

yurodivi,

In the traditional Christian reading of Sacred Scripture, the term "Israel" has two meanings:

(A) The Jewish people, biological descendants of the Patriarch Jacob,

and

(B) more profoundly, the Church.

The modern political entity is not coextensive with (A) and obviously has nothing to do with (B). If Christians had any obligation to support the national policies of a Jewish state, the entire Church -- East and West -- would have been in continuous error beginning with the Twelve Apostles themselves.

I am not anti-Israel (much less an anti-semite!). Frankly, I'd love to see them wipe out Hezbollah. But basing such views on biblical injunctions that have no relationship to to modern State of Israel is preposterous. It's not as bad as moonbat Left Behind dispensationalism, but it's a kissing cousin.


William

"Then I'll believe that the "modern political entity [that] also happens to use the name 'Israel'" has no connection whatever with the Jews of the Old Testament."

Yurodivi, Then I would suggest you check out this site of orthodox Jews. http://www.nkusa.org/

Ian

Cdl. Sodano spoke for the Pope:

As in the past, the Holy See also condemns both the terrorist attacks on the one side and the military reprisals on the other,...

The subsequent quote from Pope Benedict is indistinguishable:

But neither terrorist acts nor reprisals, especially when they entail tragic consequences for the civilian population, can be justified. By such paths, as bitter experiences shows, positive results are not achieved.

The Holy Father speaks thus: Reprisals against acts of war committed against one's nation are universally unjustified.

By speaking of justification, the Holy Father seems to be making a moral statement. Moreover, by not stating that his argument pertains specifically to the Israel conflict, it is innately a universal statement.

It would appear then, that the Holy Father has irreformably proclaimed absolute and extreme pacifism as a dogma of the Catholic Church, according to the formula of Vatican I, Session 4, Chapter 4, Paragraph 9.

Have I made a logical error here, based on his Holiness' words and the text of Vatican I?

It would seem that there is only one way to come to a different conclusion: perhaps the word "especially" is mistranslated. If "specifically" or some such is the actual word used in the original language (prior to translation to English), then the condemnation only applies to reprisals against civilian populations.

Sydney Carton

"This is why it is so dangerous for Catholics to be sucked in by politics based on dispensationalism."

Again, that is the dumbest argument I've ever heard. Even the evangelicals who believe in that crap don't like Israel for that reason; they like it because it's a fellow democracy whose people were rejects from Europe like our forefathers, and who build a prosperous state while surrounded by enemies.

Straw-men smears such as saying we're all secretly dispensationalists really will get you nowhere.

M.Z. Forrest

Sydney,

Is bombing an intentional or unintentional act? Hezbollah isn't fighting under the imprimatur of any government. (Whether they rec'v support is another issue, but does nothing to establish imprimatur.)

Oh forget this. Let's invade Canada! Everyone knows God granted the U.S. and I suppose now Israeli the devine right of hegemony.

Ed the Roman

M.Z.,

You're right about Europe's history.

In fact, they have been continuing it in the Balkans.

I'm not willing to be lectured by Europe on the necessity of anyone's duty to be killed.

Jason

By speaking of justification, the Holy Father seems to be making a moral statement. Moreover, by not stating that his argument pertains specifically to the Israel conflict, it is innately a universal statement.

It would appear then, that the Holy Father has irreformably proclaimed absolute and extreme pacifism as a dogma of the Catholic Church, according to the formula of Vatican I, Session 4, Chapter 4, Paragraph 9.

Have I made a logical error here, based on his Holiness' words and the text of Vatican I?

I think the Holy Father is just referencing the traditional principles of Just War:

-The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain.

-All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective

-The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition

Also, I think he is echoing Pope John Paul II:

War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations. As the Charter of the United Nations Organization and international law itself remind us, war cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict conditions, without ignoring the consequences for the civilian population both during and after the military operations.

The general attitude is, "Israel was attacked, so they are justified in responding with violence". But that, I think, is exactly what is condemned by JP2, thinking of war as just another option among many to consider. Did Israel exhaust every single means in responding to this supposed "act of war"? Was war an absolute, back-to-the-wall last defense? And, probably the most important question here, is Israel's response proportionate?

Donna

William: You tend to personalize your arguments. Your friends and experiences are the only ones which matter. If people are pro-Israel it's because they're "dispensationalist", as you once were. Apparently, there's no escaping this charge. Even if you say you're not, you really are.

Bull. I was pro-Israel, for entirely secular reasons, long before I returned to the Church, and so are many other Americans. I can think of any number of pro-Israeli bloggers who are Catholic or secular. There are plenty of very good and moral reasons to be pro-Israeli which do not have anything to do with fundementalist Christianity. You just ignore them.

That being said, I do bear in mind that, as St. Paul reminded us in Romans, God is not a Covenant-breaker. And my mother, a devout Polish Catholic, taught me that Jew-hatred is very wicked.

Janice

Yes, Israel's response was proportionate. If it wasn't, they'd be in Tehran by now.

paul zummo

The Vatican's stance on this issue is certainly disheartening, seeing as how they are equivocating between to very morally unequal sides. But that does not justify the crudeness of this particular cartoon. In a sense it should not surprise anyone that the Holy Father would take a position that seeks to cease the bloodshed. I believe that the Holy Father is mistaken in his assessment, but this cartoon is pretty disgusting and simpleminded (as are most political cartoons, when you get down to it).

Simon

Even the evangelicals who believe in that crap don't like Israel for that reason; they like it because it's a fellow democracy whose people were rejects from Europe like our forefathers, and who build a prosperous state while surrounded by enemies.

And that is a perfectly valid reason for supporting Israel, which I happen to share. But it's not a reason for supporting Israeli military policy in all cases or without reservation.

Neither is it a straw man to speak of dispensationalism. "Left Behind" Dispensationalism is possible only for someone who has the most tenuous grasp of the Christian Faith, and the sad fact is that there ARE a lot of them in the United States right now. Not many among Catholics, but even 1 is too many.

More broadly, there are commentators on this thread and others proposing that God's blessing on those who protect His people in the Old Testament directly entails support for the modern State of Israel. That's pure baloney, and if there are any Christians who believe it, then the crisis of catechesis is worse than I thought.

Donald R. McClarey

"Oh forget this. Let's invade Canada! Everyone knows God granted the U.S. and I suppose now Israeli the devine right of hegemony."

Hezbollah is launching raids on the US from Canada, and the Canadian government is refusing to do anything to shut them down? son of a gun! The things you learn on the internet!

paul zummo

Did Israel exhaust every single means in responding to this supposed "act of war"? Was war an absolute, back-to-the-wall last defense? And, probably the most important question here, is Israel's response proportionate?

Yes, (in so far as they've tried to do all they could do to negotiate with people who want them obliterated from the planet), yes, and yes (see Janice's 2:12 post).

Hezbollah isn't fighting under the imprimatur of any government.

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Oh, sorry, you were serious. Well then.

Donna

Let's invade Canada!

If they were routinely lobbing missiles across the border at Seattle, you bet your boots we would invade. Any country with the capacity to do so would.

Jason

Yes, Israel's response was proportionate. If it wasn't, they'd be in Tehran by now.

Proportionate doesn't refer to just limiting yourself to the offending nation, but includes factors such as civilian casualties. Israel lost 2 soldiers. How many civilians will Lebanon lose?

Tim Ferguson

Ian,

The pope didn't invoke his apostolic authority (i.e. speak Ex Cathedra) in making this statement, therefore papal infallibility is not called into play here.
canon 749, paragraph 3 - "No doctrine is understood to be infallibly defined unless this is manifestly demonstrated."

M.Z. Forrest

Nice obfuscation Paul. Seeing as you don't believe they are fighting under the imprimatur of Lebannon, then how can you support Israel's actions against Lebannon. Bahwah-whatever. Gotta love dealing with cafeteria catholics.

Donald
I should watch my sarcasm considering the number of 'conservatives' who advocated invading Mexico.

Donna

Jason: So more Israelis should die, to make it nice and fair and square?

Hezbollah has a nasty way of hiding among the civilian population. It is very difficult to go after them and not kill civilians. But killing civilians is not Israel's goal.

Donald R. McClarey

"Donald
I should watch my sarcasm considering the number of 'conservatives' who advocated invading Mexico."

M.Z., what conservative proposes invading Mexico? All the conservative commentators I know are concerned about a Mexican invasion of this country via illegal immigration, and no one that I am aware of proposes invading Mexico.

paul zummo

Gotta love dealing with cafeteria catholics.

MZ- if you cannot identify the centuries-old Church doctrine that opposes Israel's actions in this case, then I would kindly suggest that your very lame comeback is both innaccurate and pretty much just a lie, but I wouldn't expect anything else from you. By the way, nice dodge on the fact that your original statement was completely unsupportable by the facts. Ah well.

By the way, who are "conservatives" who currently advocate invading Mexico? Oh, is that another madeup claim to justify a faulty policy position? Quelle suprise.

Jason

I didn't say more Israelis should die or that Israel's goal is to kill civilians. But war has consequences, no matter how noble the intentions. The ends still do not justify the means.

Simon

Donna: Thank you for your thoughtful post. A few responses, if I may:

I was pro-Israel, for entirely secular reasons, long before I returned to the Church, and so are many other Americans. I can think of any number of pro-Israeli bloggers who are Catholic or secular.

True. But as Christians, we have to get beyond seeing this particular issue as a simple black-white dichotomy. I support the right of the Israelis to live in peace. Hezbollah and Hamas are despicable murder-gangs. On the whole, I strongly prefer Israeli control of the Holy Land to any conceivable form of Arab or other Muslim (mis)rule.

But that doesn't mean we have to give unqualified support to Israel. The actions of the IDF are not always justifiable. And Israel's treatment of Arab Christians is often unjust.

That being said, I do bear in mind that, as St. Paul reminded us in Romans, God is not a Covenant-breaker.

Yes, but God never made a covenant with the State of Israel.

And my mother, a devout Polish Catholic, taught me that Jew-hatred is very wicked.

Bless your mother, for she was absolutely right! The reflexive ANTI-Israel attitude that has become so pervasive on the Left does hint strongly at an underlying "Jew hatred" which is always deserving of condemnation. But neither the Pope's remarks, nor Cardinal Sodano's, reflect anything like that attitude.

To criticize a particular policy of the modern State of Israel does not imply hostility toward the Jewish people. The State of Israel is a state like any other state. Some of its actions are praiseworthy, and others are not.

Victor

I kindly ask you to refrain from your Europe bashing. While Europe has a terrible record regarding war during the, say, 20th century, America isn't exactly the personified Innocence. So if you want to criticize the Pope's or the Holy See's political commentaries, please don't take Benedict XVI hostage for being a German. One could ask why there is no American pope right now. I for my part happen to rather have a political moron who is a theological brainbox AND has the Holy Spirit than the other way.

Donna

To criticize a particular policy of the modern State of Israel does not imply hostility toward the Jewish people. The State of Israel is a state like any other state. Some of its actions are praiseworthy, and others are not.

I am in complete agreement about that.

In this case, I believe Israel is more than justified in her actions and is, thus far, being much more scrupulous than other countries would be if the shoe was on the other foot.

Jeff

I think many of the comments are missing something.

Michael Totten, for example is a big supporter of Israel and loathes Hezbollah. He has been a big supporter of the Iraq War.

But he has lived in Lebanon and he is aghast at what is happening there. Christian neighborhoods that hate Hezbollah being bombed by the IDF.

Why on earth would you bomb the portion of the Lebanese population that wants to bring Hezbollah under control? Why bomb neighborhoods and towns exclusively populated by Maronite Catholics? Why punish those Lebanese that are as much the victims of Hezbollah as you are?

Israelis are asking the same questions as the links in Totten show. There should be a war by Israel against Hezbollah and against Syria, some of them are saying. To rain down bombs onto neighborhoods populated by potential friends is not only disproportionate, but politically stupid.

Back in '82, the Israelis were bombing apartment block after apartment block in Beirut and killing thousands and thousands of innocent people with no discernable purpose or effect. Even Ronald Reagan couldn't stomach it after a while--he called up Prime Minister Begin and said, "Menachem, I want this stopped and I want it stopped right now!" And it was stopped.

Needless to say, Reagan was no Israel-hater, nor was he a naive Europeanized do-gooder.

To say, "This has a disproportionate effect on the civilian population" (many of them CATHOLICS, guys, don't you give a damn?) is not to say you can't fight. It's just to say that you can't fight in a stupid and destructive way just because you're frustrated.

Of course, the Vatican could be wrong in its analysis. It just so happens that in this case, it isn't wrong. And the Vatican NEEDS to be reminding people that war can't be fought without rules.

Sydney Carton

Simon: "To criticize a particular policy of the modern State of Israel does not imply hostility toward the Jewish people. The State of Israel is a state like any other state. Some of its actions are praiseworthy, and others are not."

Excuse me, but Tim on the other thread said that the creation of Israel was a colonial action akin to robbery, and that the West must apologize for it. William forcefully agreed with that argument. I suppose if the President of Iran were reading that thread, he'd agree with it too.

Maureen O'Brien

The Pope did mention Haifa, Israel's sufferings in his Our Lady of Mount Carmel speech, after the Angelus. So please, quit claiming he didn't.

He can't easily use his temporal powers in cases like these, because he doesn't want to make local Christians the scapegoats. So he's using his spiritual powers instead, by calling on Our Lady (and the Carmelites) for help for the whole area.

That counts as one of his policy options, and a powerful one.

Maureen O'Brien

PS -- I just found out that, logically enough, there's a Carmel full of little old lady Carmelites on top of Mount Carmel. Which is part of Haifa. Which is getting treated just like the rest of Haifa.

But when the Pope meets with their sisters, and puts the whole area into the keeping of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, he doesn't give a dang about Haifa, Israel. Oh, no.

Christopher Fotos

Jeff is right about Michael Totten. Here's a recent post that's one of the best rational objections I've seen to Israel's actions. I disagree with it, but such arguments exist.

As for the Vatican needing to remind people that wars can't be fought without rules, please convey this message to Hezbollah.

Tom Piatak

Of course, this cartoon is unfair and unjustified.

Also unfair, and utterly bizarre, is the prospect of Catholics failing to appreciate what a wonderful Pope we have, and joining in such criticism. At the very least, Benedict XVI's statement was completely predictable; under John Paul, the Vatican invariably called for peace whenever the bombs began to fall.

Mike Walsh, MM

Missing in the above analyses, it seems, is the strong likelihood that if the Vatican ever publicly sides with Israel against any Islamic entity, the many dhimmi Christians in Islam's malign grip will catch hell for it. So they temporize. At least that is the spin I put on it. If Soldano's public statements sound like nothing more than cheap moral equivalency, I wonder if that is too high a price to pay for a few people's lives. Just askin'.

trm

I don’t know why so many commentators claim the Vatican only condemns Israel. They always condemn the terrorist attacks as well as in the most recent statements. Also, I think the intention is to condemn the Israeli reprisals insofar as they put civilians at risk.

I do not claim Israel has no right to defend itself, or even to rid Lebanon (thus itself) of Hezbollah. But what do the bombings all over Beirut and other more Northern targets get Israel? They destroyed the Hezbollah leader’s house. So what, do they think he really cares? Is that going to get rid of Hezbollah? It seems to me that Israel is putting the most civilians in harms way that it possibly can, with getting the least benefit for itself. Hezbollah dominates South Lebanon, so why not invade South Lebanon and deal with them directly. Why kill so many civilians and so few militants, when they can take the fight straight to (and almost exclusively to) the militants by invading the South?

Also, it is not really fair accuse the Lebanese government of not being willing to get rid of Hezbollah. They have spent most of their energy since Israel withdrew getting rid of the Syrian forces in their country, which they did last year. Since then they have been negotiating with Hezbollah, to try to get them to give up their arms. If you think is as simple as Lebanon invading their own South and forcefully removing Hezbollah you are wrong. My understanding is that much of the Shiite population of Lebanon is pro-Hezbollah (that’s about 40-50% of their population). If they attacked Hezbollah they would have a civil war on their hands, and much of their standing army would probably defect to the Hezbollah side. Hezbollah could easily triple in size over night, and with Syria’s backing, might even win such a civil war. The government is (was) trying to disarm Hezbollah, but military force was not a realistic option for them.

William

Donna, at least someone who supports Israel for purely secular reasons is probably doing so because they think it is in the best interest of the US. (though I'd disagree) What I find very troubling are Catholics who subscribe to a Catholic form of dispensationalism and support Israel blindly because of it. (Some know exactly what they're doing, others are influenced by dispensationalism and don't even know it.) Basing one's support of a nation, any nation, basing it on theology, for a Catholic is heresy. God bless the orthodox Jews in Neturei Karta. They understand the danger of mixing religion (Judaism) with a secular state.

As for my "personalizing" my arguments, I make no apologies. My time under Israeli occupation and time with Jews and Palestinians is part of who I am today. They both shaped my thinking on the subject. I will not and cannot leave that wonderful experience out of any discussion on the land and precious people who live there. Far too many people speak with authority on this subject with out ever having been there or having met Jews, Palestians or Lebanese.

Simon

Excuse me, but Tim on the other thread said that the creation of Israel was a colonial action akin to robbery, and that the West must apologize for it. William forcefully agreed with that argument. I suppose if the President of Iran were reading that thread, he'd agree with it too.

Sydney, you're right to condemn the notion that the State of Israel is an unjust creation of Western colonialism. In truth, the problems of the Middle East stem in large part from the fact that the only real colonialism in the region was centuries of semi-barbarous Ottoman rule. The Europeans didn't show up until after World War I, and then only in the half-hearted "League of Nations mandate" way that barely even offered a taste of civilization.

That said, the fact that reflexive anti-Israel sentiment is wrong does not prove that Israel is always right.

JP

Mike,
You probably hit the nail on the head. The Vatican will say nothing to further endanger the few Christians that remain in the Mideast.

JimmyV

I find it shameful that Michelle Malkin has not sworn her allegiance to the Holy Father and will fight to the death (along with the Holy Father's 150 man Swiss Gaurd) to defend the Vatican.

Tom Haessler

It's a complete misunderstanding of HOW the modern papacy teaches to imagine that obiter dicta statements made on vacations are examples of doctrinal teaching. The problem with Benedict's and Sodano's statements is that they did NOT teach. They made no effort to relate an extremely brief statement to any themes in Catholic just war theology or even Catholic pacifist theology. It is very difficult to explain how Cardinal Sodano's statement is not a repudiation of Catholic teaching (made repeatedly during the pontificate of John Paul II much to the chagrin of Catholic pacifists) that nations have the right of self defense against unjust agression. Nothing is said in either statement (Sodano's or Benedict's) about proportionality (which is certainly germane).

The excellent extended quote from John Paul the Great offered by Jason is one among very many that have been chosen that show that the magisterium does NOT support the just war theory in its classical form. In its classical form as can be found in many moral theology manuals, there were two kinds of just war: (1) offensive - war as an instrument of national policy which sought the restoration of violated rights; and (2) defensive - war fought to defend a nation from attack or imminent attack. Since the time of PACEM IN TERRIS the magisterium supports ONLY the second kind of justification for war. This is why Israel's military response to Hezbollah is entirely justified. The question whether the justified response comports with proportionality requirements is a JUS IN BELLO question about which people of good will could have different opinions. But the notion that Israel cannot respond militarily to rocket attacks on its territory or kidnapping of its citizens is a view that is hardly compatible with contemporary magisterial TEACHING on the limited use of force. I'm virtually certain that this was NOT Benedict's intention, although in this case, the usually very careful selection of words and expressions - a characteristic feature of his MO - was abandoned. Our Holy Father is tired and needs rest. He's pouring out his life in service to the people of God and the world. Expecting every statement, even those made on the spur of the moment without sufficient reflection, to pass muster in all quarters is quite unfair. He's the presiding officer of the episcopal college, and, like all bishops, a vicar of Christ. He's not superman. When you prick him he bleeds, and when he stays up all night, he yawns!

As for cartoons - by definition, they exaggerate (that's what a caricature IS). Let's let the inability to assess literary form be a characteristic of Islamists (remember the response to the MO cartoons?) rather than of thin-skinned Catholics.

The Holy Father's theological credentials in deepening our understanding of the mystery of the (Old) Israel's continuing existence and it's positive role in the history of salvation is assured by his condemnation of every sort of supercessionism. HE is responsible for inserting in the catechism the statement (674) that shows that the New Israel is unable to realize the measure of the "stature of Christ" prior to the full incorporation of the Old Israel. The Church right now lacks something that it will have when the Old Israel is incorporated into the New Israel. Old Israel right NOW is STILL an aspect of the full mystery of Israel, as Paul insists in Romans, and Aquinas insists in his commentary on Romans. Just as being "dead" in the state of mortal sin does not deprive one of membership in the Church as long as faith is retained, so lacking the fullness of faith in Jesus does not deprive oneself of membership in some sense in "Israel". Benedict's work against supersessionism assures his place in any history of improving relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people.

It's sad that he didn't have the time and leisure to provide more in depth moral guidance than his brief statement.

Donna

Donna, at least someone who supports Israel for purely secular reasons is probably doing so because they think it is in the best interest of the US.

Actually, most of us support it because we believe it is right and moral to do so.

Tom Haessler

Hello, Christopher Fotos,

Thanks for supplying the link to Michael Totten's recent post. It's given me much to think about. As Mark Shea has insisted, things are very fluid during a war, and we need to keep thinking carefully all the time.

Morning's Minion

I take issue with Tom's characterization that the conditions for just war ad bellum are satisfied. I cannot see how this is the case. We've talked about proportionality before. If Israel's response can be deemed proportional, then this principle has been shed of all meaning.

I also quibble with some of the other principples:

"Right intention": I fear retaliation and retribution feature highly in Israel's caulculus.

"Last resort": Clearly not.

"Reasonable chance of success": I would even quibble with this one. Although Israel has the overwhelming military advantege (it sickens me that the media seems to treat Israeli casualties more seriously than Lebanese ones), it's clear that these actions will actually increase sympathy for Hezballah within the non-Shia communities who were becoming increasingly fed up with its shenanigans.

(the new blogger formerly known as Tony A!)

Simon

HE is responsible for inserting in the catechism the statement (674) that shows that the New Israel is unable to realize the measure of the "stature of Christ" prior to the full incorporation of the Old Israel. The Church right now lacks something that it will have when the Old Israel is incorporated into the New Israel. Old Israel right NOW is STILL an aspect of the full mystery of Israel, as Paul insists in Romans, and Aquinas insists in his commentary on Romans. Just as being "dead" in the state of mortal sin does not deprive one of membership in the Church as long as faith is retained, so lacking the fullness of faith in Jesus does not deprive oneself of membership in some sense in "Israel".

I certainly wouldn't argue with any of that.

What's problematic, though, is the peculiar identification by many of "Old Israel" with the modern "State of Israel," and the consequent assumption that God will "bless" those who support the policies of the State of Israel at all times and in all situations. Benedict XVI does not hold such views, for the simple reason that such views are not Christian.

Caroline

Why does the Vatican have to make any statement whatsoever while the fighting is going on? Neither side is going to listen while they are fighting. Any statements are useless except for registering sentiments. And I realize that it is necessary in today's world to register the right sentiments at the right times because if you don't you are going to get condemned for it sooner or later. But in the end registration of the right sentiments doesn't affect behavior while the fighting is going on.

Eventually the fighting will stop and then the talking will resume, again. Then what the Vatican has to say might affect the talks and effect a more just outcome. But sounding off everytime one group of people are clobbering another doesn't make them stop and uses up influence down the road when influence might matter.

And the cartoon is nasty. Had the Vatican said nothing, I suppose there would be a cartoon of the Pope just relaxing on his throne in the background looking at a photo of Pius 12.

mrp

If memory serves, until 9/11, Hezbollah was responsible for killing more American citizens than any other Islamist organization.

The US Gov't lists Hezbollah as a terrorist group and has prosecuted several HB agents living in the United States.

Civilians are dying in Lebanon because HB deliberately built security compounds in mixed Muslim-Christian neighborhoods. Standard operating procedure for Islamofascists.

Rick

Simon,

Yes, one earns no Divine blessing simply for favoring the policies of the state of Israel as such.

Still: It is not just wacky dispensationalists but the Church herself who teaches that the Parousia is delayed until "all Israel" recognize Jesus as Lord.

Insofar as the state of Israel is necessary to preserve the Jewish people for this eventual recognition, its establishment is not without significance in the divine economy.

JP

Tom Hassler,

Excellent post. I don't know if the Holy Father gets daily briefings on World Events. This situation has been worsening for several weeks, but escalated overnight. It does appear he was caught off guard. As Caroline stated, there may be nothing coming out of the Vatican until the shooting stops.

Maybe BXVI can take a page from "Mit Brennender Sorge":

8. Whoever exalts race, or the people, or the State, or a particular form of State, or the depositories of power, or any other fundamental value of the human community - however necessary and honorable be their function in worldly things - whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God; he is far from the true faith in God and from the concept of life which that faith upholds.

This of course applies to all nations and not just Israel.

TSO

Re: ...one can make a strong argument that the Vatican's statements smack of moral equivalency; but I strongly suspect that the Holy See's main concern in this matter is the Maronite community.

It is interesting how the Pope has to deal with different roles. In one sense he is shepherd to Christians, but in another a shepherd to the world since we are all God's children. I wonder at the tension in that. For example, Pope JPII was against the Gulf War, presumably out of hope that a diplomatic solution would somehow be successful in getting Hussein out of Kuwait. The Holy Father's larger vision was, perhaps, the Christian persecution in Muslim countries and how war between a U.S. led coallition against a predominantly Muslim country would make it worse. Was his vision parochial in the sense of being first interested in the laudable care and concern of Christians in Muslim countries? On the one hand I can see the wisdom in not having prosecuted the Gulf War, given all the situation since, but on the other I can see how a naked injustice (Kuwait's violation) shouldn't be allowed to stand.

Romulus

Insofar as the state of Israel is necessary to preserve the Jewish people...

A Jew is far safer living in the United States, Canada, or Western Europe than in the state of Israel. Arguments to the contrary require accepting a notion of perpetual Jewish victimhood -- that sooner or later non-Jewish majorities are bound to persecute their Jewish minorities. I think few people pause here long enough to notice the racism implicit in the idea that gentiles are latent Jew-haters by their very nature.

Now that it's here, I think it's best that the state of Israel survive in peace and security, but that doesn't mean I have to embrace their foundational mythology.

Julia

I'm puzzled by references to targeting of areas populated by Maronite Christians. While I work at the computer I switch from CNN to MSNBC and FOX. All have remarked that the Israeli missles are aimed at military targets and the only one in the North of Lebanon was to take out a port.

The president of St Louis University and the pastor a a St Louis Maronite Church are stuck in Lebanon and talking by phone to the networks and papers here in the St Louis area. They have commented that the Maronite areas are the safest places to be and they are thinking about heading to the hills in North Lebanon to visit Maronite relatives where they will be no bombing at all.

Where are you guys getting your info? Or are you just assuming things?

As to proportional response, I'm guessing those who are holding to that necessity also reject Colin Powell's Doctrine of overwhelming force to get the conflict overwith ASAP to limit civilian suffering?

Donna

Arguments to the contrary require accepting a notion of perpetual Jewish victimhood -- that sooner or later non-Jewish majorities are bound to persecute their Jewish minorities.

Read "History of the Jews" by English Catholic Paul Johnson and you might understand where Jews got this crazy idea from. The Jews are safe in the U.S., but that's an exception.

As for Western Europe, well, about 80 years ago, there were plenty of German Jews who considered themselves Germans first and Jews second. Those Jews were murdered by men who did not share their opinion.

Many millions of murdered Jews down through the centuries - that's not a myth.

Rick

A Jew is far safer living in the United States, Canada, or Western Europe than in the state of Israel.

I'm not sure Jews are currently safer in, say, France than they are in Israel. Not everyone agrees.

And the threat to French Jews doesn't come from a persecuting majority. It comes from a pusillanimous majority, unable to safeguard one minority from the violence of another.

I can imagine the situation in France worsening, and eventually spreading even to places like the US and Canada. Can't you?

It wouldn't require a second Shoah for the world's 13 million Jews to disappear.

It would require little more than the fall of Israel, harassment by aggressive minorities in other countries, a low birth rate borne of difficulty and despair, and the passage of time.

Tope

Julia -

There are reports that the Israeli army has bombed the port city of Jounieh, which, from what I understand, has a large Maronite population.

Rick

Consider the precariousness of the Jewish people.

In 1939 world Jewish population was almost 17 million.

Today, decades after the Shoah, it is at 13 million.

In a period in which world population has just about tripled, the Jewish population has been reduced over 20%.

Today, the Jewish remnant face murder and harassment from Islamic militants — not only in Israel, but in France, Argentina, Tunisia...all over the world.

And yet: It belongs to the Deposit of Revelation that this dwindling people will be here to the end, and will play some role in the consummation of history.

Jeff

I think we need to remember that people can fight for a good cause viciously and for a bad one virtuously. Many who were unalterably opposed to the South's crusade to maintain slavery by declaring independence still admired and respected the South's way of war and the nobility of its generals.

Israel's cause may be just. But that doesn't mean that it gets to do whatever it wants in response. It matters--yes, it does--whether Israel repeatedly bombs apartment buildings with hundreds inside. And they sure as heck did that in '82. You can't just say, "Well, they were attacked, so whatever it takes." No, NOT whatever it takes.

And Hezbollah's cause may be evil. But we have expended reams of argumentation condemning terrorists for attacking innocent civilians and insisting that military targets must be attacked. Hezbollah attacked and killed soldiers and took others prisoner. Then they destroyed an Israeli ship. Even when they fired a missile at Haifa, it landed on a railway station, the same sort of arguably military target than Israel and the United States routinely attack when fighting. Israel bombed the port in Christian Jounieh, killing lots of Maronites. Why? Because it could be used in support of military action by Hezbollah! Right. The Maronites are importing weapons for Hezbollah through their port.

They have also been firing missiles at civilian areas, but the Israelis have been bombing civilian areas, too. Does it matter to us if the right means are used in fighting wars? Or was that just a ruse? Did we really only mind the attacks on civilians because we thought they were in an evil cause?

Did we really never care that the terrorists attacked civilians? Or is attacking soldiers and military targets not an advance on blowing oneself up in a pizza parlour full of teenagers?

Mike Petrik

Jeff,
I agree with your major point, but here is the rub. One cannot morally equate the decision to bomb "a civilian area" because it harbors combatants with a decision to bomb "a civilian area" because it harbors civilians. The former is subject to a prudential calculus, while the latter is intrinsically evil.
I think that it can be said with confidence that Israel, as a general matter, does not target civilians as such. The instances cited to the contrary are subject to debate insomuch as the argument usually is that civilians died and that is that, and the few instances where the specific assertion is made that innocent noncombatants were the specific targets, others reject those assertions as a matter of fact. But even allowing for the truth of these assertions they are indeed exceptional, whereas Israel is the victim of such terrorist attacks on a routine and deliberate basis. It is fair to admonish Israel to fight its battle justly, but one should do so in proportion to the sins it commits not the sins committed by its evil and ruthless adversary.

Romulus

It would require little more than the fall of Israel, harassment by aggressive minorities in other countries, a low birth rate borne of difficulty and despair,...

Speaking of which, the abortion laws in Israel are about the most liberal in the Middle East. Murdering Jews in the womb is just as bad as in the marketplace. You'd think a nation presenting itself to the world as a safe haven and demographic lifeboat would think twice about the welfare of the most helpless Jews of all.

Morning's Minion

Rick,

This is exactly the kind of bad theology that animates the US support for Israel. Are you a closet dispensationalist?

Morning's Minion

Question: many defenders of Israel seem to believe in Israeli exceptionlism, that Israel is right where other countries might be wrong.

Imagine a similar border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, with one of them engaging in an Israel-style escalation. Would you find the same kind of passionate defense? No, perhaps some sympathy, but the perspective would be clearer, and the just war tenets would not be so easily discarded.

Why Israeli exceptionalism?

Because of the Holocaust? But there have been (tragically) numerous incidents of genocide in the 20th century. Why Israel?

I think it boils down to bad theology, the idea that God wills the Jewsih people return to the land of Israel. It is worth noting that, while we certainly believe the Old Covenant is still valid, we do not believe in "real estate" theology.

Tom Haessler

Hello Morning's Minion (Tony A.),

A full response to your post (which must be taken with the utmost seriousness because this is a discussion between Catholics who accept the Church's teaching authority) will require more time than I have before the evening news broadcasts. But before responding at greater length, I'd like to comment on "last resort."

The catechism (probably because of the abandonement of the category of the scholastic form of the just war theory of the category "just offensive war") no longer speaks of "last resort", but rather insists that "all other means of putting an end to it (unjust attack) must have been shown to be IMPRACTICAL or INEFFECTIVE (CCC, 2309). Israel has been working against Hezbollah aggresion ever since they've left Lebanon, through the United Nations, the good offices of the United States, and other means. This produced (among other things) the Security Council Resolution 1559 that deprives Hezbollah of all legitimacy as a militia. If a militia states quite openly that its purpose is (among other things) to bring an end to the state of Israel, it would be suicidal to drag out interminable diplomatic manouvres every time there's a new Hezbollah attack.

Ferde Rombola

"killing civilians is not Israel's goal."

Try telling that to the families of the dead.

"We killed your little girl, but we didn't mean to."

Chris Sullivan

Tom,

Israel hasn't tried what it is commanded to do in the Torah, to "love your neighbours as you love yourself" [Lev 19:18].

Not only have "all other means of putting an end to it" not "been shown to be impractical or ineffective", but the means specifically commanded to the Jewish people have not been tried.

I don't see that Israel's reponse meets any of the CCC2309 conditions.

The cartoon is an outrageous inversion of reality, an insult to the Holy Father and the Church, and ought to be properly regarded as war propaganda.

God Bless

Mike Petrik

Ferde,
Are you really saying that Israel cannot take any actions to defend itself that would place a non-combatant at risk? If so, fair enough -- but please know that this is not a function of Catholic teaching.

Ferde Rombola

Jeff wonders why Israel would bomb its potential friends in Lebanon, who are as anti-Hezbollah as they are. The reason is, Israel is doing what it loves to do more than anything; killing and destroying. They love their war toys and love using them. It reminds me of the "little man syndrome." A little pip-squeak of a dude who must endlessly prove his manhood day after day.

Joe


That cartoon is a crude distortion of words we can check and a history we can know. Egregious misrepresentation and distortion of what B16 and Sodano said makes one wonder what else is being misrepresented and distorted and how much we really know of the truth of Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian and Iranian statements, attitudes and experiences.

Yurodivi

Ferde, Simon,

hope you two enjoy explaining to the Almighty how you feel about his chosen people. I guess you figure he didn't mean all that stuff about "I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you." He was just joking when he told Abraham that he would give him "all this land, from the wadi of Egypt to the great river Euphrates." Seems to me Israel has settled for a tiny fraction of the land they are entitled to possess, and the savages begrudge them even that portion.

Why? Apparently because they are Jews.

Pacifism and appeasement of the bloodthirsty legions of Israel's enemies are the two quickest ways to ensure the destruction of Israel. Maybe that's what you want, but I seriously doubt it's God's will.

From Psalm 137:
7 Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
8 O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

But maybe God was just kidding aobut that part too. I guess you'll find out one day!

Tope

I'm baffled by the comments above which express disappointment with the Holy Father's criticism of Israel's current offensive in the same breath as they praise his previous comments on radical Islam. Shouldn't the fact that Pope Benedict recognizes the threat posed by extremist Muslims and nevertheless condemns Israel's actions make you MORE likely to take his comments on this situation seriously, not less? Or are you just interested in having the Holy Father tickle your ears and say whatever it is you want him to say?

Back on topic, the cartoon is a disgusting distortion of the facts and a slanderous attack on the Church. Benedict, like JPII, has been instrumental in improving the relationship of the Church with the global Jewish community. In light of this, to paint his comments with the broad brush of anti-Semitism simply because they are critical of Israel is absolutely inexcusable.

Marty

Rick
"And yet: It belongs to the Deposit of Revelation that this dwindling people will be here to the end, and will play some role in the consummation of history."
"Some role" is conversion to accepting Jesus the Christ, no?

Donald R. McClarey

"The reason is, Israel is doing what it loves to do more than anything; killing and destroying."

Rubbish.

Donna

A little pip-squeak of a dude who must endlessly prove his manhood day after day.

Yeah, 'cause it's not like anybody is trying to kill them or anything. Those Jews, always showing off!

Jeff

Mike:

This is a reasonable point. But I don't think it holds water in the end.

Look, there is a vanishing point at which "prudential calculus" loses all meaning. If you demolish a neighborhood in which some guy with a gun "may be" hiding, simply because, well, you have to DO something, then it's pretty hard to distinguish in practice from revenge. If you destroy a city because somewhere in there there might be a fighter, then your intention may count for a little, but not all that much.

And what tends to happen in war, is that the pretext tends to atrophy and disappear in one's mind. You HAVE to do SOMETHING, "those people" either are unwilling or unable to fight your fight, somebody is harboring or helping your enemy through force or fear or sympthathy. And he's hidden somewhere, you don't know where.

That's how it begins. But it soon becomes a war against population. In World War Two, we and our allies fought a brutal, indiscriminate air war against a civilian population. We created firestorms in cities that wiped out hundreds of thousands of people. And after a very short while, our generals no longer even bothered to pretend that we were looking for munitions factories. We were simply trying to cow a population so that the support of the population for the regimes we were fighting would be smashed.

There is no reason to suppose and every reason not to suppose that the Israelis do the same thing. In fact, there is even more reason for them to do so, since their enemies are darned hard to find. But it still won't do, you know; it won't do.

You can't just kill thousands of people on the off chance that you might kill a few of the one's you are after. That's what they were doing in Beirut in '82. They were destroying whole neighborhoods, bombing block after block of flats in the off chance that in there somewhere some of their enemies were hiding. To say that there is "no evidence" of such behavior by the Israelis is just ignorance of history.

And whether their cause was just or not, the Pope would be grotesquely remiss if he were to let such behavior, visited upon members of his own flock, pass without comment. If he were to say, "Israel may be killing hundreds of innocent Catholics and destroying the infrastructure of a country historically dominated and culturally formed by Catholics. But she has been attacked. She has the right to defend herself. That's all there is to be said,", if the Pope were to say that, it would be regarded by Catholics in Lebanon as a gross and incomprehensible betrayal by their Shepherd. And it would be so regarded because that's exactly what it would be.

The Pope should condemn brutishness in war. He should condemn it whether in a good cause or a bad. He should condemn it whether it comes from 50% brutes or 90% brutes or 10% brutes. And he should constantly remind us that war, in which great heroism may indeed by found, tends by its nature to make brutes of all of us, no matter how noble our cause.

Look, I grant you that the Israelis often get the short end of the stick. Their battle against guerillas in Jenin a few years back was a model of how to fight a difficult war against a brutal insurgency entrenched in a town. So was our battle in Fallujah. But the Israeli battle in Lebanon in '82 was NOT such a model. And the present battle seems to be shaping up to follow the same pattern.

Shocking the conscience of a pro-Zionist like Ronald Reagan in '82 wasn't easy. Shocking the conscience of a pro-Israeli and pro-war American like Michael Totten today isn't easy either. You can't ascribe their outrage to animus against Israel. Their outrage came because Israel does sometimes behave outrageously.

The Pope has it right on this one--the Israeli reaction against Lebanon is out of proportion and promises to be even more brutal than '82--especially since they now feel that they must "do what it takes" to rid themselves of Hizbollah permanently.

Rick

This is exactly the kind of bad theology that animates the US support for Israel. Are you a closet dispensationalist?

No, Tony, I get my theology not from dispensationalists, but from St. Paul and the Catechism:

The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles",571 will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".572

I don't have a "real estate" theology.

I simply affirm that it belongs to God's Providence that the Jewish people, despite existential threats, will survive until the end of history.

In this sense, to "bless Israel", ie, to accept and welcome the Jewish presence in history, is in fact to be in harmony with God's will.

Conversely, to "curse" this presence...to desire to eliminate it from history, as happens so often today, and in the past... manifests a deep rebellion against God's will, and a resistance to the Day when God will be all in all.

mrp

Jeff -

We were simply trying to cow a population so that the support of the population for the regimes we were fighting would be smashed.

The Nazis were gassing Jews and shuttling concentration camp prisoners around the Third Reich up to the moment the Allied tanks broke down the prison gates and stopped the trains. Last-ditch Japanese officers attempted to assassinate the Emperor before he could deliver his capitulation address. The NVA kept fighting until their AFVs circled the presidential palace in Saigon.

There's a lesson here.

John A.

Folks, I think Joe's is the most trenchant observation in this thread:
"That cartoon is a crude distortion of words we can check and a history we can know. Egregious misrepresentation and distortion of what B16 and Sodano said makes one wonder what else is being misrepresented and distorted and how much we really know of the truth of Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian and Iranian statements, attitudes and experiences."

Donna

In this sense, to "bless Israel", ie, to accept and welcome the Jewish presence in history, is in fact to be in harmony with God's will.

Conversely, to "curse" this presence...to desire to eliminate it from history, as happens so often today, and in the past... manifests a deep rebellion against God's will, and a resistance to the Day when God will be all in all.

Rick, that is very well put. I think some progressive Catholics, in their haste to distance themselves from anything remotely akin to fundamentalism, are too quick to deny any Biblical connection to the Jews of today. In its' extreme form that leads to the "replacement theology" some Anglican vicars champion today, which include such absurdities as denying that Jews were ever connected to the land of Israel.

Ironically, in adopting such views, the anti-Israel Catholic Left aligns itself with RadTrads (certainly NOT all traditionalist Catholics) who, as Mark Shea has pointed out, confuse old sin with old tradition. "If anti-semitism was good enough for our forefathers, than by gum it's good enough for us!"

To me, the continued existence of the Jews , a tiny fraction of the world's population who has been persecuted for so long and, despite all, achieved so much, is evidence that God exists and that His Covenant with them continues (despite the mistakes sometimes made by the Jewish State and the imperfections and sins of individual Jews). And conversely, I see the Jew-hatred that infests so much of the Muslim world as being literally of diabolical origin and a source of much of their misery.

William

"1948 Israel" does not equal "Old Testament Israel" people! Good grief!

William

"It's a complete misunderstanding of HOW the modern papacy teaches to imagine that obiter dicta statements made on vacations are examples of doctrinal teaching." I don't know anyone who thinks that.

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