Israelis and Jews err in demonizing the Pope

I agree with Jonathan Tobin, who notes the Pope’s missteps and tone-deafness while in Israel, but then goes on to add this important caveat:

But to say that Benedict is not John Paul should not be an excuse for Israelis or Jews to spend this week bashing either the Vatican or the Pope. While there are many shortcomings in the positions enunciated by the Pope about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians (his call for the lifting of the embargo on Hamas-ruled Gaza is remarkably muddle-headed), it is a colossal mistake to treat him or the vast institution he represents as either an enemy of Israel or a major problem for the Jewish people. The Vatican has maintained its ties with Israel and has spoken out against anti-Semitism repeatedly, no small gesture at a time when the tide of Jew-hatred is rising in Europe.

This Pope is no master of public relations; he is prone to mistakes that raise the hackles of Jews and others. And it’s hard to see how any Pope who served, albeit briefly, in Hitler’s Wehrmacht would ever be able to cope with the hard feelings that many Jews understandably have about the Holocaust unless he did nothing but continually apologize.

But at a time when Israel is currently beset by real enemies, including an Iranian regime threatening the Jews with a new Holocaust, fixating on the Pope’s shortcomings and the Church’s history is an absurd misreading of the situation. Like it or not, Israel and the Church are on the same side of a clash of civilizations in which radical Islam is a deadly threat to both Jews and Christians. Rather than bashing the Pope, Israelis and Jews need to embrace him as a friend, best as they can.

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  • Charles Martel

    I agree with Tobin’s take, too. The icing on the Church’s apologies to the Jews may not have all the swirls and curlicues that the adamant and the legalistic demand, but the Church has made it clear that it stands irrevocably with Israel (the nation) and Israel (God’s covenanted people).

    As Obama and other western enablers make it easier for the world’s anti-Semites—and the world’s premier anti-Semitic philosophy, Islam—to show their faces with no reproach, only a transnational entity as powerful as the Roman Catholic Church can act as the Jews’ main shield outside of their own weapons and gutty determination.

    If you don’t think the Church has any power, just watch the howls and screams anytime she makes a pronouncement that questions the power or lusts of the little gods and goddesses that now run our lives. Nothing outrages bent people more than that one institution they just can’t quite get rid of. Even if threats against her were to lead to the loss of hundreds of millions of followers, there would still be a core of 100 or 200 million Catholics willing to defend the Jews—openly, and if necessary, at the cost of their lives or fortunes.

    It’s easy for Obama, or Muslims or anti-Semites like the New York Times to try to kick around the world’s 16 million Jews. It becomes a bit harder when you’re trying to kick around tens of millions of stubborn, determined gentiles.

  • 11B40


    Coming from the Catholic end of the spectrum, I also have criticisms of the Pope’s performance while in the Holy Lands. My immediate reaction was that he didn’t seem at all strident in addressing the persecution (including murders) of Christians in the Middle East, especially Iraq and the “Palestinian” controlled areas. But, this is a very tough issue to address when dealing with Muslims. Will bringing up the issue cause those Christians still there even more grief?

    My greatest disappointment, however, is that there still doesn’t seem to be any impulse to attack Islam as a failed and failing ideology. The longer Islam is allowed to be treated as a religion, the longer Muslims will get away with their mischief.

    I’m happy that the Pope went to the Holy Land to, as we used to say in my calvary days, show the flag. But, bottom line, someone needs to stand up and say, “It’s the Islam, stupid!” (With apologies to Secretary Clinton who won’t.) (Imagine, a feminist ending up as a secretary.)

  • suek

    >>Will bringing up the issue cause those Christians still there even more grief?>>

    This is basically the same problem that Pius XII had. In lands ruled by tyrants, it’s often best to tread gently for the sake of those will feel the heavy hand if the tyrant is displeased. It’s easy to say that you should condemn what someone does as wrong, but if someone else suffers as a result, you’d best keep your condemnation at a minimum – even when you’re absolutely right.

  • Ymarsakar

    Will bringing up the issue cause those Christians still there even more grief?

    That’s what we have this solution called peace through superior firepower. I believe you are familiar with it ; )

  • suek

    The Church doesn’t have much in the way of firepower. At least, not until the Afterlife. Most of us would prefer not to have to wait until then to exercise the possibility of the superior firepower…!