Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Israel, Reversals, and the New Vatican

Reversals are interesting occasions. This morning as I was reading through the paper I spotted a headline that would have made no sense a few months ago. It read, Israelis gather to fight removal of Gaza settlers. Wow, the Isrealis are finally trying to stop the travesties of justice that occur daily in their occupied territories.

No, it turns out that a bunch of the ultra right settlers from the Yesha council are just protesting Sharon's proposed Isreali pullout from the Gaza Strip. The government has banned the demonstrations as being undemocratic. You want to be careful when they start using that word. The organizers say the protest will be non violent.
"We will march to Gush Katif," said Pinchas Wallerstein, a Yesha council leader from the Gaza Strip. "This time they will not stop us. The battle will be determined but non-violent."

Israel's deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, denounced the threatened protest as anti-democratic. "There is an attempt here by the demonstrators to create a confrontation. This is an attempt to determine by force the governmental stance of the state of Israel," he told army radio.

Well it wouldn't be the first time that force was used to determine the outcome of something in Palestine. Even our new ultra-right pope agrees.

Another great headline, Vatican in terror dispute with Israel shows the Vatican is also in trouble with the Isrealis. It seems that the new pope is being too fair. He says he can't condemn Palestinian violence with also condemning the Isreali retalliations. It seems that someone hasn't given him the memo about how violence is reported in Palestine.
It said one reason for this was that "the attacks on Israel were sometimes followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the norms of international law ... It would thus be impossible to condemn the [terrorist operations] and pass over the [Israeli retaliation] in silence".

Doesn't Pope Benedict know that only violence against the government side is supposed to be mentioned while state violence is supposed to be dutifully ignored. This was certainly a situation accepted by the former pontiff.
Israel has repeatedly demanded that other governments recognise Palestinian attacks as part of an international Islamist campaign against western democracy, therefore implicitly not connected to its own actions in the occupied territories.

The generally conciliatory tone of the Vatican's initial response appeared to have put an end to the row. But the next day an Israeli foreign ministry official told the Jerusalem Post that it has been Vatican policy for years not to condemn terrorism in Israel.

Thursday's statement was framed as a response to that claim. It included a long list of references to statements made by the late pope, John Paul II, condemning violence against civilians in Israel.

So Pope Benedict isn't playing ball with the Isreali government propaganda machine? They want us to believe that violence in the region is part of a worldwide Islamic plot and not simply a reaction to thirty eight years of the brutal, illegal occupation of Palestine. I wonder what the stonethrowers of Palestine think about Bendict? Might not be such a bad guy after all. We'll see.

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