Want to Make Enemies Fast?

Pray for peace in the mideast. I tried it and was promptly vilified for my alleged cheap moral equivalence by one reader who is, I gather from other posts, a partisan of Israel and another who is a partisan of the Palestinians. How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in hostility. And all because I said there were no winners, just sinners and victims. You will note that I did not say anything about moral equivalence. That’s because I don’t believe there is anything approaching symmetry in the relationship between Israel and Gaza which was, you know, kind of the point of the link I offered which described the massively unjust situation Gaza is in and the no-win situation Israel has, in its folly, created for itself. It was, apparently, an article neither reader read. I post the link again in the hope that they will.

So, to be clear, I do not believe in the Immaculate Conception of the State of Israel. I think it pretty obvious that Israel has the lion’s share of blame (and power) here and have foolishly painted themselves into a corner with their own massively unjust treatment of Gaza. I might add that crazy American Evangelical theories about how Israel is “God’s Anointed” (no, that would be Jesus, crazy Evangelicals) and how any questioning of Israeli policy is an assault on God have not helped and have massively contributed to the embrace of Unreality:


Fun fact, crazy Evangelicals: According to the Bible that Catholics don’t know nearly as well as Bible-based Evangelicals, St. Paul says that the fulfillment of that promise to Abraham is not a secular nation-state in which abortion is the law of the land, but Jesus Christ.  No.  Really:

So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” …. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many; but, referring to one, “And to your offspring,” which is Christ. (Galatians 3:7-8; 16)

So since Jesus and not the State of Israel is the fulfilment of that promise, does that mean “Israel has  no right to exist” if it is merely a secular nation state?  Don’t be silly.  Does the US, or Australia or Canada or Spain have no right to exist because they are not divinely founded?  Who says a nation has to be divinely founded in order to exist?  No.  It merely means that Israel is a fallible secular nation state and crazy American Evangelicals should stop paying it divine honors which properly belong to the Lord and Savior they are supposed to be worshipping.

Meanwhile, people interested in addressing reality in Israel (and they do exist)

…need to face the fact that trying to maintain military superiority while functioning as Manhattan on the Mediterranean in their abortive and contraceptive culture while their enemies keep multiplying in a festering ghetto is a doomed proposition. This choice to live in unreality, like all such choices, and will guarantee that Israel goes the way of Outremer if nothing changes.  Reality has a way of refusing to go away.

At the same time, I am a firm believer that just because you are a victim doesn’t mean you can’t sin too. So Palestinians remain moral agents who are choosing to sacrifice innocents–their own and others–in order to just land a punch. Do they have good reasons for wanting to land a punch? Sure. Does being a victim take away the sins of the world?  No.  Do good ends justify evil means, such as killing civilians, their own and Israel’s? No. In short, everybody remains a moral agent, though Israel holds virtually the entire deck of cards vis a vis Gaza. I don’t know how to resolve that, so I pray for peace because I think God can resolve it if we persistently ask him to do so–and I get attacked for it.

Psalm 120
A Song of Ascents.

1 In my distress I cry to the LORD,
that he may answer me:
2 “Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.”
3 What shall be given to you?
And what more shall be done to you,
you deceitful tongue?
4 A warrior’s sharp arrows,
with glowing coals of the broom tree!
5 Woe is me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace; but when I speak,
they are for war!

It takes three to make a quarrel. The full potentialities of human fury cannot be fully realized until a friend tactfully intervenes. – G.K. Chesterton

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  • Ted Seeber

    I posted an idea for how to resolve it, but I don’t think either side is actually interested in any resolution where their side does not “win”.

  • JDH

    I clicked on this post because the title led me to believe I would learn how to make my enemies stop eating.

    I was sorely disappointed.

    • Mark Shea


  • Kirt Higdon

    Mark, according to the regime, I’m pretty sure that praying for peace constitutes material support of terrorism.

  • kenneth

    What the Israelis and Gazans need is a good common hatred to bring them together. They would do well to consider Canada, or the Gay Lobby. Or Micronesia. In the Middle East, one conspiracy theory of mutual mistrust is as good as another. Who’s to say, really, what those sun-baked atoll huggers and fishermen are doing out there over the far horizon of the Pacific? Who (besides Russian and American arms companies) would stand to benefit more by the Arab-Israeli mutual destruction and power vacuum? Think about it!!…….

    • Richard Johnson

      Face it, humanity needs the Borg!

      • Mark Shea

        Patheos is growing as fast as it can. Give us time. Your cultural and technological distinctives will be added to our own.

    • Ted Seeber

      Pro-Life. Ooops, sorry. Only the Islamics are pro-life.

  • Wow, good one. I’m going to have to remember that Galatians quote whenever talking to “conservatives” about Israel.

  • EBS

    Yes agree, there is a vested interest in keeping the conflict going in the Middle East, and US and Iran are just some of the faceless men.
    The war of attrition that is played out by Israel over the Palestinians, is one in the same thing that the Palestinians played out in Lebanon by the PLO for decades “back in the day” in the 70’s and 80’s- the innocents ALWAYS get dragged in. So Mark, you are right to say there are no sinners only losers!
    For example Syria occupied Lebanon with their military checkpoints for years and years, and now they occupy Lebanon with their mass exodus onto Beirut taking jobs and their wages from Lebanon and scurrying back to Syria to live and spend their Lebanese earnings in the a syrian economy. Yet how ionic that all has backfired in the face of Al-Assad where his own are trying to overthrow him in the name of Muslim tribalism. And yet the victims are Syrian civilians and innocent children dead with limbless bodies. Whose winning here? Not Syria.
    I think some prefer the polished and “civilized” terrorism of the well oiled Israeli machine- where the grenades are efficiently administered via high advance technology, over the “uncivilized” rock slinging grenade strapped body of a young 20year old brainwashed Muslim. Both are vile!
    Just leave Lebanon out of it this time!

    • Mark Shea

      So Mark, you are right to say there are no sinners only losers!

      Um, I said there are no *winners*, only losers.

      • EBS

        Yes sorry, I meant that. Pregnancy brain.

  • I guess we are all supposed to be universalists – but I have an even more radical notion.

    My prayer is that whatever happens over there for once not end up costing thousands of American lives, trillions of American “aid” going to foreign nations like Israel and Palestine, and all the attention of Washington DC at a time when America could use their attention..

    • Mark Shea

      “I guess we are all supposed to be universalists”


      • Andy, Bad Person

        I think he means that we’re all supposed to be part of the human race, in solidarity with our brother and sister humans across the world, instead of focusing our rightful attention on the US, the Center of the World.

  • EBS

    And just one more thing to ponder:
    Isn’t it a “co-incidence” that Obama gets re-elected and literally the following week the Gaza thing re-ignites, with Israel flexing it’s muscles? I’ve always wandered (and I hate Conspuracy theories), that incompetent Leaders get into power and stay there because Israel sez so….Just food for thought.

    • Mark Shea

      I don’t think Israel was thrilled by Obama’s election.

      • EBS

        You reckon? I think he wants everyone to believe that. He’s letting Syria self-destruct during his last term, and making up for it this term by shutting his mouth on Gaza. Only time will tell…

  • michael huffman

    If there is a comment of the day award it should go to JDH.

    • JDH

      There really should be such a thing. I could use the resumé filler.

  • Mark Gordon

    Hang in there, Mark. I’ve found that nothing – NOTHING – brings out the bile like posting on this topic. I’m dealing with a little of it right now, in fact. Your thoughtful, wholly Catholic approach to the topic is appreciated.

    • Ted Seeber

      Suggesting that genocide is genocide is a close second.

  • TMLutas

    The government of Gaza is Hamas, who believe in genocide. Where is genocide in your moral calculus? Remove the genocide intentions and the blockade goes away. Israel has already withdrawn from Gaza. Gaza decided that killing Jews was central to their politics so they continued on post withdrawal. Why is a blockade immoral in that situation?

    • Richard Johnson

      TMLutas, since Hamas believes in genocide and refuses to retreat, I guess the only recourse for Israel is to march to the sea killing every Palestinian they can find, right? I mean, that would be far more humane than their pattern of attack-retreat, which is simply creating more people willing to be martyrs for their cause.

      Why not just mobilize the superior firepower we have given them and be done with it? Then they can annex the smoking remains and turn it into a proper settlement.

      • The Deuce

        I see you dodged the question. TMLutas didn’t advise killing every Palestinian. He merely asked why it’s immoral to put up a blockade against people who want to commit terrorist genocide against you. The fact that you didn’t answer that question suggests that you aren’t able to answer it the way that you want.

        • Richard Johnson

          Fair enough. The blockade is clearly ineffective, as are the various military attacks that Israel has launched over the years. Each time they bombard the region and the Palestinians refuse to give up. Clearly the actions of Israel are not removing the threat that is posed to their citizens by Hamas and the Palestinian people.

          Is not the next logical step to remove the threat by more aggressive means? Or is the blockade/air war path going to be the prescription ad infinitum?

          • The Deuce

            The blockade did indeed reduce attacks on civilian centers in Israel. Remember how you always used to hear about Palestinian terrorists walking right into Bar Mitvahs with bombs strapped to their chests and blowing up hundreds of children? That hasn’t happened in a while, because the blockade has mostly eliminated that sort of attack.

            • Richard Johnson

              But rockets still make it into Israel, as the attacks of late are showing. And these rockets are more sophisticated, with greater range…sufficient range to target Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Today they even launched against an Israeli navy vessel.

              It seems that no matter how tight the blockade, these rockets still make it through. Israeli citizens then come under attack. How many years is it now?

              Seriously, Deuce, don’t you believe that Israel should simply begin the ground offensive and sweep the land clean of the threat?

          • TMLutas

            The blockade is not ineffective. It does what it is supposed to do, reduce offensive capabilities and exact a price for Gaza attacking Israel. The blockade is one aspect of Israel’s policy. There are others. Genocide figures in none of them. They make life in Gaza difficult so long as Gazans elect genocidairres to their political leadership. I am still looking for the Catholic position that declares blockade immoral under these circumstances.

    • The Deuce

      I agree. People who insist that the situation is primarily Israel’s fault for treating the Palestinians badly need to explain what, precisely, Israel could have done differently without further endangering their citizens, and when they could have done it. Placing vague blame on them for being mean is easy, giving specifics is not.

  • Richard Johnson

    “Why is a blockade immoral in that situation?”

    TMLutas and The Deuce, the simple answer is that it is immoral because it neither protects the Israeli citizens nor hinders the Hamas attackers. If Israel has a right to defend its citizens from attacks, then I think we can all agree that the blockade has failed. If you consider the right to defend the citizens of Israel a moral duty of that nation, then the blockade is indeed immoral.

    Further, the blockade punishes the guilty (the Hamas government officials and their terrorist operatives) as well as the innocent (the Palestinians who may or may not have any say in the actions of Hamas). In doing so it simply provides incentive for Palestinians to be radicalized by Hamas in reaction to the blockade. (Think of how the US people responded in the wake of the 9/11 attack.) Thus, by increasing the danger to the citizens of Israel, the blockade is immoral.

    If we accept TMLutas’ assessment that the Hamas government is bent on genocide, and if we accept the statements in their propaganda that they will not stop until Israel is “driven into the sea”, then there exists only one alternative, right?

    • TMLutas

      If a defense is imperfect, then it is immoral. Right.

      This is not a Catholic position.

      The facts on the ground don’t even agree that the blockade is unsuccessful. Hamas takes longer to rearm between attacks and has a poorer weapons mix when they attack. Both these facts protect the innocent.

      Your need to go to whatever spiritual advisor you have and present your position abstracted from the specifics but still fundamentally accurate. I think you would get better guidance from someone you trust. you may need to first go to someone you trust on military matters to get the fact pattern right.

  • Peggy R

    I am on board with praying for peace in the middle east as a general matter and with concern for all human life there and everywhere.

    Yet, I find myself wondering what Israel is to do that would be okay with some readers, as rockets continue to rain on its people? Just sit and take it? No option passes moral muster with the superior minds and souls here.