A Reader Writes:
I entered the Catholic Church, from Orthodoxy, last year. And with joy. With gladness, because it was a given joy, something placed upon my path. Irresistible, a stumbling stone gladly tripped over. What pushed and pulled me in? Too many to recount here. One, significantly, was watching (thank you, Cardinal Ratzinger) how Catholicism accepts God’s patrimony of the Jewish people. Israel is His First Beloved. We ignore that at His displeasure.
Yes, I left the Orthodox Church with a sweet sadness, even a certain regret; but not at leaving, behind, the ever there stench of its dislike of Jews. That disregard, somehow, contributed to the very definition of what is Orthodoxy and who is Orthodox.
So, upon reading the Catholic Press’ sympathetic coverage of the PLO and Arafat (especially this business regarding the Church of the Nativity) I am stumped. Upon becoming Catholic I didn’t know I had to give credence to murderers and mongers of hate who (according to the Arab press) pray for the day are lifted to mountains of dead Jews, to “piles and piles” of them. Though not for the stench of Jewish dead, such wishful prayers, for other means of Jews laid low, are even raised by Arab Christians. That I know. It was hard to hear.
Second, I’m aware that there is a more pervasive ugly attitude toward Jews in many Orthodox circles but I must also say that, as a Catholic, I have encountered similar attitudes among the (thankfully few) Reactionaries in my own communion. However, it does seem to be rarer in Americans of whatever denomination than it is in Europe, partly due to our happy relationship with Israel and partly because of something in the American character that appears to have bred the anti-semitic gene out of the body politic somehow.
That said, I have a few remarks to offer which basically describe my own attempts to digest what the Catholic media (more Euro than American) have to say. First, you are not of course, bound to “give credence” to what some reporter thinks. The Vatican Radio website, for reasons utterly mysterious to me, was (at least last week) still jabbering about the “massacre” at Jenin. I have no idea why since even the UN knows it’s bogus. Judging from the Stone Age equipment they used to record my interview I can only guess at the tortoise-like swiftness with which a bunch of Italians got around to figuring out that the Euro-rumors they were reporting on Vatican radio were swamp gas.
Beyond that, of course, you have Europeans who are as devout as Catholics as Bill Clinton is devoted to the tenets of the Southern Baptist Church. These are the twits who sing “Imagine” and overlook the obvious threat of Islamofascism in favor of the phantom threat of the Jews.
Finally, you’ve also got the policy of the Holy See, which has been the fly in the Israel Can’t Ever Do Wrong scenario so beloved by so many. I more or less think they are right. Is Arafat a poisonous toad? Yes. Has Palestianian culture been deeply corrupted by the Islamofascists? You bet. Does Israel share some blame in the situation coming to this pass.
Yes, says Rome. Because while the Palestinians have been being schooled if fire-breathing Nazi rhetoric by their Islamofascist masters, Israel has been giving that rhetoric credibility by doubling the number of settlers on the West Bank since 1993. Palestinians, not surprisingly, have concluded Israel was no more serious about their having a homeland than Arafat was about making peace.
I deplore the acts of anti-semitic violence in Europe. I deplore Arafat’s terrorism. But I do not think criticizing Israel’s lack of resolve in telling the settlers to give the Palestinians their land amounts to anti-semitism. The Holy See refuses to sign off on the notion that Palestinians have absolutely no case and Israel is totally right. That’s not the same thing as endorsing Islamofascism. In some future post I will endeavor to incur the wrath of CAIR for my opinion of Islam. Short description of that post: the problem is not a few terrorist Muslims. The problem is Islam.