It seems as if the Pope has told it like it is with regard to Islam — referring in an academic context to a propensity within this religion for violence. And see what happened: Muslims were so angry at the insult, at the unfair implication that they are violent, that they became violent. Seems to me that they’ve made the case. Violence is in the culture of Muslims, certainly of Arab Muslims. A simple fact of life. Can you imagine, possibly imagine, if Jews were insulted by the Pope that we would attack churches, threaten to blow up all churches in a given area? Or by the same token, imagine Christians behaving thus?
What Pope Benedict did was quote — in a talk at the University of Regensburg in Germany — a 14 century Byzantine emperor who spoke of Muhammad’s command to spread by the sword the faith he preached; some of Muhammad’s teachings were referred to by the emperor as “evil and inhumane.” From this, a firestorm erupted.
Said Archbishop of the Melkite-Catholic Church in Israel, “Such a violent reaction does not inspire peace and brotherhood.” Indeed.
The Pope has expressed regrets that his citation of a medieval text, which was not, he said, an expression of his own opinion, elicited the response it did. One has the sense that this is a no-nonsense pope, however, not into political correctness. Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, speaking for the pope, said, “In reiterating his respect and esteem for those who profess Islam he hopes that they will be helped to understand the correct meaning of his words, so that, quickly surmounting this present uneasy moment… collaboration may intensify.”
The press secretary for the Holy See said, “it should be noted that what the Holy Father has to heart – and which emerges from an attentive reading of the text – is a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence.”
I try to tell it straight, as much as I am able. But Heaven knows that I call it wrong sometimes. I had recently expressed enthusiasm about the return of Moshe Ya’alon to Israel and his likely imminent involvement in politics. I saw this as a positive thing. An interview he has given to Ha’aretz has caused me to revisit my initial enthusiasm.
When asked about his position with regard to giving the Golan Heights to Syria in the context of a peace agreement, he said, “I never sanctified any piece of ground. If a territorial concession will bring about true peace and full recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, I am not against that.”
This rings bells for me. Never sanctify any piece of ground? This means even Jerusalem is negotiable?
Of course, Aaron Lerner, who ran the interview on IMRA, makes the point that Ya’alon speaks of true peace, which says Lerner, is not going to happen — that is, it all becomes moot. But this is not enough for me.
We are such a small nation as it is. Land for peace is not a successful formula. There IS sanctity to the land of Israel — of which the Golan Heights is legally and halakhically an intrinsic part. It’s time we began seeing it as so.
It always seems to rebound on us somehow. And a report in today’s Jerusalem Post was deeply disturbing in this regard. What is being said is that the US will push on us to renew negotiations with the Palestinians because this will have an effect on the American effort to secure an international coalition against Iran. Put simply: We want to keep “moderate” Arabs happy, so if they want to see Israel negotiating we’re going to push for it if it’s in Israel’s best interest or not.
In a sane and moral world, just the opposite would be the US position now: Hamas has links with Iran, was a supporter of Hezbollah during the war. It would be perverse and unconscionable to ask Israel to negotiate with the PA when we are taking on Iran. It is part of the same battle.
But, tragically, and obviously, we do not live in a sane and moral world.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is now in the US. She has met with Sec. of State Rice who assured Livni that she will work to “seek revisions” with regard to a Jordanian-Egyptian proposal that a border between Israel and the Palestinians be fixed before the final Palestinian state is established. In other words, like yesterday, let’s fix a permanent border. Undoubtedly the pre-’67 line is what they have in mind. Makes me sick to my stomach. What is it with the world? No matter how obscenely the Palestinians behave, there is a notion that they have entitlement.
Livni will be meeting with Abbas on Monday at the UN.