The Vatican and the 3 Ds

The Holy See is jumping on the bash-Israel bandwagon.

pope at temple mount 311 (photo credit: Ziv Goren/GPO/MCT)
pope at temple mount 311
(photo credit: Ziv Goren/GPO/MCT)
Years ago, Natan Sharansky proposed “the three-D test” for determining whether what purports to be warranted criticism of Israeli policy isn’t tainted with deeply rooted antipathy to Jews. Sharansky’s three Ds were delegitimization, demonization and double-standards.
Sadly, most of what has been leveled against Israel following the interception of the Gaza-bound flotilla decidedly fulfills these three criteria.
To take just one small example, highlighted in our news pages today byretired colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of the Britishforces in Afghanistan, Israel is being singled out with the demand foran independent international inquiry into the fatal raid.
“Israel should carry out its own investigation,” Kemp notes. It “shouldbe completely up front if it has made mistakes... but I don’t think itshould be subjected to an independent inquiry any more than otherWestern countries are.” 
When 50 to 150 civilians were killed in an air strike by the Germanarmy in Northern Afghanistan last year, in “what appears to have been avery serious military error,” Kemp went on, “where were the calls foran independent inquiry about that?”
IT’S THEREFORE especially disconcerting that just as the anti-Israelchorus reaches a new crescendo, the Vatican appears to be chiming in onthe wider issue. A newly leaked 40-page Vatican document castigateswhat it terms “the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories” as a“political injustice imposed on the Palestinians.”
This is included in an instrumentum laboris, aworking document for a synod of bishops on the Mideast scheduled forOctober, which highlights the lot of the region’s Christians. PopeBenedict XVI is slated to present the draft this weekend to a 12-memberpre-synod council during an open-air mass in Nicosia, Cyprus.
According to excerpts cited by Italy’s ANSA news agency, the documentalleges that “the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territoriesmakes daily life difficult for freedom of movement, the economy andsocial and religious life.” It further deplores lack of “access to holyplaces, dependent on military permits accorded to some (and) refused toothers for security reasons.”
Sadly missing are background facts, like why it was that Israel crossedthe 1949 Armistice Line exactly 43 years ago this Saturday. To theuninitiated, the Vatican censure imparts the impression that Israelarbitrarily and without provocation launched the Six Day War as anexpedition of conquest and that it subjugates occupied peoplecapriciously. No mention is made of the fact that Israel was forced tofight for its life and that it was threatened with genocide and ethniccleansing.
Until 1993, of course, the Vatican did not even recognize the Jewishstate. But the language of the new document appears dismally out ofstep with the post-1993 relations, and it smacks of the first ofSharansky’s Ds – delegitimization.
Moreover, the instrumentum laboris makes it a pointto take to task precisely those Protestant evangelicals who avidlysupport Israel: “Some fundamentalist Christian groups cite the HolyScriptures to defend the political injustice imposed on thePalestinians, making even more delicate the position of ArabChristians.”
We understand that the Vatican is attempting to bolster the beleagueredand diminishing Christian communities within the increasinglyintolerant Muslim milieu, but this should not be at Israel’s expense.Accusing Israel of stifling Palestinian daily life, without mention ofthe terrorist atrocities that made restrictions inevitable, paintsIsraelis as tyrannical. This is demonization.
Finally, decrying lack of access to holy sites brims withdouble-standards. Never has access to the Holy Land’s sacred shrinesbeen as free and fair as it is under Israeli rule. The document’sauthors failed to note that for 19 years of Arab occupation (1948-67),no Jew was allowed to visit Judaism’s holiest sites in Jerusalem,Bethlehem and Hebron. The Jordanians destroyed 58 synagogues inJerusalem and ripped out ancient Mount of Olives tombstones to erectpublic latrines. The Vatican did not protest.
Like his predecessor Pope John Paul II, Benedict has vowed to improverelations with Jews and the Jewish state. As the friend he proclaimshimself to be, we can only hope that he will personally assure thatthis document’s glaring distortions and omissions are rectified.
Failure to do so would be detrimental to the church itself. As WalterCardinal Kasper, who heads the Pontifical Commission for ReligiousRelations with the Jews, said just last week, the Catholic Church hadweakened itself by “cutting itself off from its Jewish roots forcenturies. . .a weakness that became evident in the altogether toofeeble resistance against the persecution of the Jews.”
For the sake of the Holy See’s own moral authority, it ought not to jump on the bash-Israel bandwagon.