November 14, 2010
Update on the Synod of BishopsBy Eileen F. Toplansky
After reading my article entitled "Sister Rose and the Vatican Synod," a well-meaning reader asked that I peruse the English version of the Synodus Episcoporum Bulletin Concerning the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops 10-25, October 2010. He hoped that I would get a broader perspective on the issues at hand.
It was enlightening in a deeply disturbing way.
Interspersed throughout the piece is a quest "in which the grace of Pentecost may be renewed in the Church's journey." The Synod claims that its "primary aim is pastoral," and it speaks of concern for "all peoples of the Middle East." Christian "martyrs," "hermits," and "missionaries" are acclaimed for their work, and the Synod sees itself "at a turning point in [its] history" as it "face many challenges."
And, in fact, the majority of the Bulletin speaks to this sense of goodwill. The bishops reflect upon the "keen sufferings of the Iraqi people" without acknowledging the butchery of the late Saddam Hussein. They speak of a "common citizenship between Christians and Muslims" but fail to describe the wanton destruction of churches throughout the Muslim Middle East. Nor do they explain the second class-status of the infidel Christian within Muslim countries. Instead, the Church document speaks of guidance "by the commandment of love."
Within the pages of the document is praise for the international media which "merit recognition." Does this include the deliberate distortions and governmental censorship of countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia? Does it include mainstream French media which, to this day, refuse to shed light on the Al-Dura hoax which has been used to pillory Israel? What of the Palestinian Authority that have stepped up their repressive measures against journalists and various media outlets? Are the bishops playing ostrich?
Then the bishops speak to "the faithful [Christian] in the Diaspora" and describe how Christians are emigrating "from a sense of insecurity ... in many Middle Eastern countries." Again, the Church fathers never attribute the cause of this insecurity to the intolerance and bigotry of Islamic shariah law practiced in the Muslim world.
Nonetheless, the frightened Christians are exhorted by the bishops not "to abandon and sell their properties too quickly," though they may be under siege in Muslim-dominated countries. The faithful are asked to "keep [their goods] as [their] patrimony and as a piece of the homeland to which [they] remain attached, a homeland which [they] love and support. The land is part of a person's identity and his mission." How ironic that this very idea never crosses the minds of the bishops in connection to the age-old Jewish devotion to the Holy Land.
In fact, the Synod Fathers expose their true colors when they write,
Let us review --
What occupation? No matter how often the facts are laid out, the world refuses to acknowledge what the Israelis have repeatedly done in offering land to the Palestinians.
Let us consider --
The "wall of separation" was built at great cost to Israel because suicide bombers were entering the country and blowing people to smithereens; Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews were heinously murdered through the butchery of these attacks. Since the fence has been erected, these vile suicide/homicide attacks have decreased. By the way, I do not hear the bishops decry the steel wall that Egypt is building in order to separate Egyptian-controlled territory from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Let us examine --
"Refugees" -- after 62 years of allowing themselves to be used as pawns by the Arab world and the United Nations, it is about time that, like all refugees, Palestinians create new lives for themselves. I do not hear a peep about the equal number of Jews from Middle Eastern counties who were expelled from their birthplaces and had to resettle. No other refugee group in the world has had a single U.N. agency devoted solely to it. Yet the UNRWA, or United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, established in 1949, still exists. The nefarious deeds of the UNRWA have been highlighted many times, and there is clear documentation that the "UNRWA educational institutions are controlled by individuals committed to Hamas ideology[,] and they are educating terrorists." Odd that the bishops would overlook this.
But let me be charitable -- the bishops do speak of the "suffering and insecurity" of the Israelis. With countries screaming for her annihilation and with allies forcing Israel into compromising positions, Israel is acutely aware that the world will not lift a hand to help her; thus, these words sound quite hollow. Israel faces an existential threat, and the bishops speak of Isarelis' suffering as if it were a small inconvenience. And why would Synod bishops write that the Catholic Church in the Middle East "express[es] its gratitude to the World Council of Churches" when the WCC openly advocates a clear anti-Israel bias?
What of the fear of Israeli kindergarteners who have to study in bunkers? What of the constant checking of handbags that every Israeli has to endure when entering a movie theatre or a grocery store; what of the excruciating split-second decisions that young Israeli soldiers must make when they see something that looks suspicious? What of the agony of Israeli parents who send their children on separate buses to decrease the chance that neither will return home alive for dinner? Israelis do not target Arab children; terrorist Islamic groups do target Israeli children. Why can't the bishops make this profound distinction?
And finally --
The bishops have "meditated on the future of Jerusalem." Do they recall that the last time Israel lost control of its capital to the Jordanians, Jews were prohibited from visiting the Western Wall from 1948-1967, and Jewish cemeteries were used as latrines for goats? Yet under current Israeli rule, all religious groups are free to practice, and their houses of worship are protected by Israeli authorities. What is there to meditate upon?
As George Will has written, "[i]n the intifada that began in 2000, Palestinian terrorism killed more than 1,000 Israelis. As a portion of U.S. population, that would be 42,000, approaching the toll of America's eight years in Vietnam. ... Surely most Americans can imagine, even if their tone-deaf leaders cannot, how grating it is when those leaders lecture Israel on the need to take 'risks for peace.'"
Pardon me then, if I am not so taken with a group of bishops who call upon the United Nations to work to find "a peaceful, just and definitive solution" to the Middle East. The United Nations has been hijacked by the worst abusers of human rights and exists merely to take actions against Israel every time it has the chance. The U.N. has become an embarrassment to the righteous of the world.
The bishops call for Lebanon to "be the model of coexistence between Christians and Moslems." Yet at no time does the Church point the accusing finger at Hezb'allah, an Iranian proxy terrorist group who has virtually destroyed this once-tranquil nation. Not too long ago, Lebanon was considered the Monaco of the Mideast until Islamic terrorists co-opted the country and rained bombs upon Israel.
Ultimately the Bishops "condemn all forms of racism, antisemitism, anti-Christianity and Islamophobia." But these are trite utterances if the bishops refuse to acknowledge, as does John Hagee of CUFI (Christians United for Israel), that until the corroding hatred of the Arab world toward the presence of a Jewish world ceases, there can be no just peace.
Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.