April 04, 2005

Remembering John Paul II

Posted by Mary Madigan

"I will never forget [the Pope's] words about Europe. 'Europe,' he said, 'must breathe with both its lungs.' "
"I mourn his loss," Gorbachev said. "We knew it was coming to this. What can I say -- it must have been the will of God. He acted really courageously."

- Former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev

"I feel strongly that my brother is in deep grief. We're all very sad, [the Pope] was a great man who contributed a lot to world peace."

- Adnan Agca, brother of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who seriously wounded the pope during a 1981 assassination attempt

No obituary about John Paul II, for example, will omit to mention that he exerted enormous force to change the politics of Poland. Well, good for him, I would say. (He behaved much better on that occasion than he did when welcoming Tariq Aziz, one of Saddam Hussein's most blood-spattered henchmen, to an audience at the Vatican and then for a private visit to Assisi.) But let nobody confuse the undermining of a Stalinist bureaucracy in a majority Catholic nation with the insidious attempt to thwart or bend the law in a secular democracy. And let nobody say that this is no problem.

- Writer Christopher Hitchens

Despite President Bush’s typically unfortunate use of the word "crusade" after 9/11, American policy became notably more sensitive toward Islam. The pope meanwhile made a point of apologizing to the Muslim world for the original Crusades. Shortly after 9/11, John Paul called a day of prayer for peace at the shrine of St. Francis of Assisi which was attended by Muslim and Jewish religious leaders as well as representatives from Christian groups. His simple, somber message was that war and violence solved nothing and that nations would only advance through peace and brotherhood.

- Arab News Editorial

"Pope John Paul had defended the oppressed. We hope this remains the position of the Catholic Church towards our people and our cause and that it will guide its followers to defend the rights of the Palestinian people in confronting the continuous Zionist aggression aimed at Muslims and Christians in their holy land,"

- Hamas

[John Paul was] "a friend of the Jewish people..one of the most important leaders of our generation."

- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

[John Paul was] "a great religious figure who devoted his life to defending the values of peace, freedom, justice and equality for all races and religions, as well as our people's right to independence."

- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

"He meant nothing to me. He was not even as important as a hair on my head"

- Rahman al-Mashari, a 45-year-old engineer from Saudi Arabia, the “birthplace of Islam”

Karol Wojtyla is a saint who made true the meaning of a savior who came to Earth because he loved man. I only saw him once as he whizzed by on his "popemobile" in 1982 as he came to console Argentines over the Falklands War. He was a shining presence. An incredible man who was everywhere at all times. We'll never see the likes of him again. May he bless us from heaven.

- Lorraine Smith Buenos Aires, Argentina

Posted by Mary Madigan at April 4, 2005 08:52 AM

Comments

Well that post was impressive.A profoundly interesting selection of quotes by a wide range of people with very different perspectives.without ANY overlay by the poster.
Information without attitude is not seen frequently, although I suspect you might not exactly agree with Mr. al-Mashari on the late pontiff's value and import.
It is very much harder than it looks to simply report and allow the viewers to draw the conclusions they feel comfortable with.
Whatever else he might have been,I don't see how anyone could not say that he was a clearly'decent'man.In these difficult times that is no small achievement as history continues to show us.
Very good post.Very.

Posted by: dougf at April 4, 2005 11:58 AM

dougf - Thanks. I was surprised by some of the extreme responses to the Pope’s death, and the sources of those opinions. The Pope’s would-be assassin says nicer things than Hitchens does. How bizarre.

My opinion of the Pope is that he was a nice, decent man who did his best, and used his beliefs to cope with some very adverse circumstances. It's not very controversial..

On the other hand, don’t get me started on the history and the political structure of the Vatican and the similarities between the imperialistic, greedy, oppressive world-dominating Dark/Middle ages Church and the greedy, oppressive, dictator-dominated UN. But, this didn’t seem to be the right time to really go into that.

Posted by: mary at April 4, 2005 01:01 PM

Laurence Auster at amnation.com has some pretty strong opinions of the pope:

Moslems and the pope of dhimmitude

and also here, where he bashes both Bush and the pope together:

Laurence Auster

Posted by: Caroline at April 4, 2005 03:37 PM

Oh - and this also (more pope bashing) from a Laurence Auster reader, in case you didn't scroll down far enough on the previous post to catch it :

ouch!

Posted by: Caroline at April 4, 2005 03:42 PM

Mary: "On the other hand, don’t get me started on the history and the political structure of the Vatican and the similarities between the imperialistic, greedy, oppressive world-dominating Dark/Middle ages Church and the greedy, oppressive, dictator-dominated UN. But, this didn’t seem to be the right time to really go into that. "

I love your posts Mary (Mary! for Pete's sake!) but that is surely western guilt at its finest, isn't it? Hey - me too - my name's Caroline (For Pete's sake - an ex-Catholic!) But really, Lawrence Auster has a point doesn't he? What's the deal with the Pope of all people apparently giving a nod to the multi-culti notion that all religions are equal and all fine and dandy? That seems to leave a whole lot of people stuck between a rock and a hard place - Islam vs. radical secularism vs. Christian guilt over the Crusades. I don't know the answer but hell - I was raised a Christian. It's in my blood in some sense. Although I am probably equally a Buddhist by disposition. But then that's mainly because I think Christianity and Buddhism are quite compatible. My instinct is to want to see the next Pope be something of a tough guy, someone who recognizes the actual threat that Christianity faces. Did this Pope reach out publicly to the dwindling number of Buddhists? because that's something that I would like to see - a strong forging of bonds between Christianity and a number of Eastern traditions, including Buddhism and Hindu Vedantism and other compatible pacifistic and esoteric traditions. That might even include pure Sufism. I'll take any pacifistic new-Age mix. But please - no more lies about Islam as the ROP, from either our President or the next Pope.

Posted by: Caroline at April 4, 2005 06:30 PM

Caroline - My parents tried to raise me as a Catholic, but I’ve objected to the Church’s teachings since I was about eight years old. Our teacher, a nun, told the class that the apostle Thomas was almost as bad as Judas because he questioned the word of God. That’s why we should never question the word of God.

Even an eight year old knows that a teacher who says that kids should not ask questions is not a very good teacher. Then there was the nun who told us that the definition of a “virgin” is “someone who has never sinned”, which made most of the third graders believe that they weren’t virgins..

The Church has always been a hierarchical, non-democratic institution. Phrases like ‘turn the other cheek’ and the martyrs’ tales have, for centuries, been used by the Church leadership to convince people that the stoic toleration of abuse, oppression and inequality is a form of bravery, which usually works to the Church’s advantage. Hence, their support by the rich, and the Church's subsequent wealth (have you ever been to the Vatican? Trump would be embarrassed by the ostentation).

I don’t think that most of the clergy are consciously exploiting anyone. It’s just the way things have been done for centuries. Most religion is used to promote the same sort of stoicism and the preservation of the status quo. The good ones allow questions, but the non-democratic nature of religion means that the separation of church and state is always a good thing.

Islam uses the same tactics as Catholicism. This is also probably why Islam and Catholicism agree on many points. Neither are champions of human freedom. I’m sure that the Pope’s main objection to Communism was its Godlessness, not its authoritarianism.

That said, I still believe that the Pope was, fundamentally, a decent person who followed traditional Catholic beliefs. I don’t agree with those beliefs, but I think he meant well.

Posted by: mary at April 4, 2005 07:38 PM

Mary,

Christopher Hitchens does not have to apologize for attempting to murder the Pope. On the contrary, John Paul II has a few things to apologize to some Kurdish and Chaldean folks about, but I'm sure he'll have the chance, now.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at April 4, 2005 09:52 PM

Hitchens should turn his keyboard seven times into his mouth before posting. Tarik Aziz was not one of Saddam's most blood-spattered henchmen: he was his minister of Foreign Affairs not the guy in charge of police, the Republican guard or chemical units. I thought the Pope was wrong on trying to keep the peace at all costs. There are times keeping the peace will in the long end cause far more victims than making war before monster has grown to size where it no longer can be tamed. Chamberlain kept the peace and we know the results. But even in that case it is difficult for the Pope to argue for war and it is nearly as difficult to keep silent. We also have to remember that, unfortunately, Desert Storm, had not as goal the overthrowing of Saddam Hussein and this reduces the wrongness of trying to preserve the peace at the time of Gulf War I.

It was still wrong.

Posted by: JFM at April 4, 2005 10:25 PM

The pope should have retired a number of years ago. The Catholic Church has been a rudderless institution for some time now. John Paul II leadership during the recent sex scandals left much to be desired. I suspect that he was only able to work around a hour a day in the last year of his life. How can any institution be effective when its chief executive is so out of the loop? As for the war in Iraq, the Catholic Church is not an advocate for pacifism. It simply requires that violence be the last resort.

Posted by: David Thomson at April 5, 2005 01:18 AM

"Wojtyla hailed from what was probably the most reactionary national outpost of the Catholic church, full of maudlin Mary-worship, nationalist fervour and ferocious anti-communism. Years of dealing with the Polish communists had turned him and his fellow Polish bishops into consummate political operators. In fact, it turned the Polish church into a set-up that was, at times, not easy to distinguish from the Stalinist bureaucracy. Both institutions were closed, dogmatic, censorious and hierarchical, awash with myth and personality cults. It was just that, like many alter egos, they also happened to be deadly enemies, locked in lethal combat over the soul of the Polish people...

Once ensconced in power, John Paul II set about rolling back the liberal achievements of Vatican 2. Prominent liberal theologians were summoned to his throne for a dressing down. One of his prime aims was to restore to papal hands the power that had been decentralised to the local churches. In the early church, laymen and women elected their own bishops. Vatican 2 didn't go as far as that, but it insisted on the doctrine of collegiality - that the Pope was not to be seen as capo di tutti capi, but as first among equals.

John Paul, however, acknowledged equality with nobody. From his early years as a priest, he was notable for his exorbitant belief in his own spiritual and intellectual powers. Graham Greene once dreamed of a newspaper headline reading "John Paul canonises Jesus Christ". Bishops were summoned to Rome to be given their orders, not for fraternal consultation. Loopy far-right mystics and Francoists were honoured, and Latin American political liberationists bawled out. The Pope's authority was so unassailable that the head of a Spanish seminary managed to convince his students that he had the Pope's personal permission to masturbate them.

The result of centering all power in Rome was an infantilisation of the local churches. Clergy found themselves incapable of taking initiatives without nervous glances over their shoulders at the Holy Office. It was at just this point, when the local churches were least capable of handling a crisis maturely, that the child sex abuse scandal broke. John Paul's response was to reward an American cardinal who had assiduously covered up the outrage with a plush posting in Rome.

The greatest crime of his papacy, however, was neither his part in this cover up nor his neanderthal attitude to women. It was the grotesque irony by which the Vatican condemned - as a "culture of death" - condoms, which might have saved countless Catholics in the developing world from an agonising Aids death. The Pope goes to his eternal reward with those deaths on his hands. He was one of the greatest disasters for the Christian church since Charles Darwin.

(Terry Eagleton, my emphasis.)

Good riddance, then, John Paul.

Posted by: Benjamin at April 5, 2005 01:48 AM

On the other hand, don’t get me started on the history and the political structure of the Vatican and the similarities between the imperialistic, greedy, oppressive world-dominating Dark/Middle ages Church and the greedy, oppressive, dictator-dominated UN.

What utter garbage. There are many things wrong with the UN but to compare it with the Middle Ages Church and to call it "dictator dominated" and "oppressive" is moronically over stating the case.

Take a look at this map by Freedom House:

http://www.freedomhouse.org/pdf_docs/research/freeworld/2004/map2004.pdf

You will see that a large proportion of the world is classified as "Free" or "Partially Free".

Even if the UN was entirely democratic, which it isn't, the "Not Free" countries on that map would not be able to dominate.

But the UN is dominated by the Security Council made up of the US, UK, France, Russia and China.

Three of those countries are classified as "Free" by Freedom House, one is "Partially Free" and one is "Not Free".

So at the UN in its highest body, free countries dominate, and even at lower levels free countries have at least have a plurality of votes (if not better.) And of course the biggest financial contributor to the UN is the USA, a free country and founder member.

And of course (and this should be blindingly obvious) national govts oppress people, not the UN. Of course arguments can be made to say the UN should intervene more, there are huge issues there, but that does not make the UN "oppressors."

Posted by: Benjamin at April 5, 2005 02:12 AM

Democrats should especially be glad that the Pope was ill for the last few years. This is probably the only reason why John Kerry was rarely rebuked during the presidential campaign. I’m sure that a healthy pope would have not so subtly pointed out the contradictions between Catholic moral theology and those views held by the Massachusetts senator. Would that mean the Roman Church would have illegally (per IRS regulations) interfered in church-state matters? Not in the least. All organizations have the right to persuade their members that they should not vote for politicians who reject their nonnegotiable values. After all, can’t the NAACP urge its members not to vote for an active member of the KKK?

Posted by: David Thomson at April 5, 2005 02:41 AM

Benjamin - The definition of catholicism is “universal”. Catholics were the original one-worlders.

We come from Democratic nations – when did you last vote for your UN representative? The UN is, by definition and structure, an entirely non-democratic body of elites. Just like the Catholic Church.

Speaking of the Freedom House, here’s a clip from their latest report on the Worst of the Worst repressive regimes on the planet. Six of those worst violators of human rights are Members of the UN’s commission of Human rights:
The Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies 2005," includes detailed summations of the dire human rights situations in Belarus, Burma (Myanmar), China, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Haiti, Laos, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Chechnya, Tibet, and Western Sahara are included as territories under Russian, Chinese, and Moroccan jurisdictions respectively.
The report is available online.
Significantly, six of the eighteen most repressive governments--those of China, Cuba, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe--are members of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), representing nearly 11 percent of the 53-member body.
Freedom house also says:
Repressive governments enjoying CHR membership work in concert and have successfully subverted the Commission's mandate," said Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor. "Rather than serving as the proper international forum for identifying and publicly censuring the world's most egregious human rights violators, the CHR instead protects abusers, enabling them to sit in judgment of democratic states that honor and respect the rule of law," she said.
When it held significant political power, the goal of the Catholic Church was to preserve the status quo, or “peace”. The goal of the UN is to preserve the status quo and the “peace” that comes from tolerating oppression and genocide.

When it held significant political power, the ruling classes appreciated the Church’s efforts to keep the poor in their place. When the US and Britain petitioned the UN to classify the atrocities in the Sudan as “genocide”, the UN listened to the wealthy Arab Bloc, which opposed efforts to help the victims in Darfur in the interests of “peace”. I’m sure the Arab bloc appreciated that.

Actions speak louder than words. The actions of the UN prove that free countries do not dominate it.

Like the pre-reformation Catholic Church and like the present day Saudi Mullahs, the UN wields worldwide power without a significant military force. The organizations have a lot in common, which is probably why they agree most of the time.

Posted by: mary at April 5, 2005 06:13 AM

David Thomson -- The pope would have alienated a hell of a lot of CATHOLICS by intervening in a US election.

But you're right, the Senator from Massachusetts was in disagreement with church teachings. He supported the death penalty and voted for the war in Iraq.

Santorum, with his reckless disregard for church teaching on caring for the poor, was even worse.

This pope, to his credit, was just as opposed to capital punishment and what he saw as unnecessary war as he was to abortion.

Posted by: markus rose at April 5, 2005 06:38 AM

Mary

To compare the the Dark Ages Church with the UN is utter nonsense. Sure the UN is somewhat undemocratic, but whose fault is that? Well, who controls the UN? The Security Council and the USA in particular - a major funder and founder. The USA for instance vetoed action on Rwanda and supported Annan's candidature for UN Secretary General. Of course other nations have some say - some of which are are democratic, some less so.

Of course there are problems with the UN, but the notion that the UN is anything like the Dark Ages Church is utter nonsense. Just quite why Michael Totten should let anyone with such obviously crackpot views post on his blog is anyone's guess.

Posted by: Benjamin at April 5, 2005 06:57 AM

Benjamin – I just did compare the pre-reformation Catholic Church to the UN and you haven’t refuted a single point that I made. Harrumphing about utter nonsense and crackpot views doesn’t count.

Saying that the US controls the UN is utter nonsense. Did we control them during the Iraq war? Do we control them in the Sudan? Like France, the UN gains the support of the Euros and the Arabs by opposing the US government.

If the UN was just another branch of the US government, would you be defending them?

Posted by: mary at April 5, 2005 07:54 AM

"Then there was the nun who told us that the definition of a “virgin” is “someone who has never sinned”, which made most of the third graders believe that they weren’t virgins.."

Mary - in that nun's defense, she wasn't entirely wrong, at least from a catholic POV:

Immaculate Conception

(just wanted to be sure you knew that, the lady being your name sake and all :-))

Posted by: Caroline at April 5, 2005 08:05 AM

“David Thomson -- The pope would have alienated a hell of a lot of CATHOLICS by intervening in a US election.”

The pope would have indeed alienated some Catholics. Most, though, would have seriously taken to heart his guidance regarding a Catholic politician who flagrantly ignores Church teaching on core beliefs. This ultimately would have resulted in Kerry losing the election by a wider margin.

“But you're right, the Senator from Massachusetts was in disagreement with church teachings. He supported the death penalty and voted for the war in Iraq.”

The Catholic Church does not teach that the death penalty is intrinsically wrong. The Pope offers his views, but a Catholic is not obligated to agree. Also, invading Iraq is not considered a violation of Church teaching. The Pope never condemned our actions in Iraq, but hoped that we might be able to find another alternative.

“Santorum, with his reckless disregard for church teaching on caring for the poor, was even worse.”

The Catholic Church does not equate government spending programs with helping the poor. Santorum can continue with a clear conscience.

I am an ex-Catholic and today describe myself as a theological modernist. My reaction towards Christopher Hitchen’s book on Mother Theresa was also favorable. Just thought you might like to know.

Posted by: David Thomson at April 5, 2005 09:32 AM

I don't know whether many regulars here are familiar with the anonymous (or is it pseudo-anonymous?) writer by the name of Spengler who has a series of posts at Asia Times Online on the suicide of western civilization (scroll down on the left to "The Complete Spengler"). Fascinating reading that could occupy quite a few hours. Anyway, I notice that today he has a post on a possible successor to JPII - a Cardinal Ratzinger. A quote about the man:

"Ten years ago, he shocked the Catholic world with this warning:

"We might have to part with the notion of a popular Church. It is possible that we are on the verge of a new era in the history of the Church, under circumstances very different from those we have faced in the past, when Christianity will resemble the mustard seed [Matthew 13:31-32], that is, will continue only in the form of small and seemingly insignificant groups, which yet will oppose evil with all their strength and bring Good into this world. [1]""

Spengler

Check it out and while you're at it - check out some more of Spengler's writings about the suicide of western civilization. (Then kick back, have a beer and watch wrestling or something...)

Posted by: Caroline at April 5, 2005 04:16 PM

Caroline - in that nun's defense, she wasn't entirely wrong, at least from a catholic POV

She wasn’t entirely wrong from a Catholic POV, but she was wrong from a real-life POV. I wonder if any of those kids went home and told their parents that they were no longer virgins.

The Spengler essay was interesting. I’m not an atheist, but I’ve always had a complete indifference to any form of religion. I don’t object to it or anything, it’s just not interesting to me, except for the political aspects. I’ve always thought that people joined religions to become part of a community.

Spengler says:

“What religions do to ameliorate social or political conditions is incidental; religions exist because humankind is terrified of death.”

Is that true?

Posted by: mary at April 5, 2005 08:44 PM

Mary you beat me to posting that article about the UN’s ommission of Human rights. I read Benjamin's screeds last night and came back post it..

Benjamin is sure consistant isn't he?

His latest screeds are better propaganda than his previous ravings though, you have to actually know something to tell he's just a crank now.

Benjamin what's your ambition? Do you want to write for Al Ahram, or Al Jazeera? You'd fit right in among any hate mongering group of propagandists. Your style is already perfect.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at April 5, 2005 10:27 PM

Mary

I did not say that the US controlled the UN.

I said the UN Security Council, in particular in the US, does.

But on the occasion of the Iraq War, the US could not secure enough votes to get the support of the UN Security Council.

You said that the UN is "dictator dominated." But in response I outlined for you the make up of the UN's highest body - the one with the crucial powers, its governing body - the UNSC.

I pointed out to you that this body - the UNSC - is NOT dictator dominated.

Repeat: The UNSC is NOT dictator dominated.

Therefore your notion that the UN is "dictator dominated" is false and provably so.

Furthermore national govts rule territories, not the UN. They are responsible for oppression, not the UN.

The UN may be responsible for not intervening enough. And whose fault is that?

The national govts who control the UN.

Posted by: Benjamin at April 5, 2005 10:27 PM

"But on the occasion of the Iraq War, the US could not secure enough votes to get the support of the UN Security Council."

We now know that one of the central reasons why the United States could not secure the required votes was because so many of our so-called allies were in bed with Saddam Hussein. He effectively bribed them. The dictators of the world, often can neutralize in one way or another, any UN resolution directed at them. Moreover, the UN rarely rebukes these dictators. They instead focus their venom on the democratic state of Israel.

I have an awkward and yucky question I wish to direct to America’s Jewish citizens: why are you not enraged at the widespread anti-Semitism of the United Nations? Why are you so nonchalant and seemingly indifferent? Do you agree with Eric Alterman that Israel is supposedly an authoritarian nation? Lastly, and this is where I as a non-Jew really push the envelope---are most liberal Jews self hating?

Posted by: David Thomson at April 5, 2005 10:53 PM

David Thomsen -- yeah I'm "self-hating", and humanity affirming, and also trying to support policies that give Israelis, and Jews, a CHANCE for living in a world without virulent antisemitism. That means, protect yourself, but also behave justly towards others. And THAT means, Israel needs to leave Judea and Samaria and parts of East Jerusalem at the earliest possible opportunity.

On catholicism, I'm not going to argue canon law with you. If in fact putting on a rubber (or allowing others to do so) is a mortal sin, while the question of whether the state should be in a position of being likely to accidently execute an innocent man is just a matter of opinion, who am I to argue?

It appears that the Catholic church is a big tent, that can include everyone from the Catholic Worker movement and the Berrigan brothers, to Mel Gibson and the Opus Dei group. God bless all of you.

Posted by: markus rose at April 6, 2005 07:28 AM

Bejamin - you say the UN Security Council, in particular the US controls the UN

But if the UN Security Council, in particular the US controls the UN, why couldn’t the US gain the support necessary for the Iraq war?

If the UN Security Council, in particular the US controls the UN, why is most of the blame for the disaster in Rwanda focused on the US, rather than on France’s support of the Hutu Genocidaires and Annan's faxed response - ordering Dallaire to defend only the UN's image of impartiality?

You say “The UN may be responsible for not intervening enough. And whose fault is that?”

I assume that you’re implying that the United States is responsible. I assume that, according to your reasoning, the US is responsible for everything bad that the UN does and they’re not responsible for any UN action that you agree with (like the UN’s lack of support for the Iraq war). It’s an inconsistent argument.

I am surprised by your opposition to the Catholic Church. They have, historically, supported the same things you support.

By the way, the information about Annan’s fax was from former UN human rights lawyer Kenneth Cain’s article in the Observer, titled How many more must die before Kofi quits?. Cain says:
…What kind of leadership would tolerate this conduct 10 years ago? The answer is: precisely the same leadership that, 10 years later, permitted the oil-for-food scandal and the sex-for-food scandal. Why did it take everyone 10 years to figure this out?

In contrast to your argument, Cain’s is consistent.

Posted by: mary at April 6, 2005 08:37 AM

“David Thomsen -- yeah I'm "self-hating", and humanity affirming, and also trying to support policies that give Israelis, and Jews, a CHANCE for living in a world without virulent antisemitism. That means, protect yourself, but also behave justly towards others. And THAT means, Israel needs to leave Judea and Samaria and parts of East Jerusalem at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Why are you dodging the question? The United Nations continually rebukes Israel while saying nothing about truly horrendous regimes. Why are you so indifferent?

Posted by: David Thomson at April 6, 2005 01:51 PM

David Thomson -- Yes, I would agree with you that most UN members have been excessive and hypocritical in their denunciations of Israel and in their refusal to denounce much worse abuses in other countries.

It pisses me off. It would piss me off a thousand times more if those denunciations occured after Israel had in fact offered a just peace settlement to the the Palestinians. Such a settlement doesn't mean grant Arab "right of return". It means acknowledge the truth of what happened in 1948, and withdraw to the Green Line, or to its territorial equivalent in land area.

Posted by: markus rose at April 6, 2005 03:16 PM

Markus - how does Israel offer a just peace settlement to a people who still desire destruction of the state of Israel? Have the Palestinians officially recognized the right of existence for Israel or did I sleep through something? Apparently their constitution still calls for the right of return (same thing as the destruction of the state of Israel). It's like you've never heard of the concept of JIHAD or something. Do you seriously think Israel is the side blocking peace? Do you seriously think other Arabs in the region give a damn about the Palestinians? Just a little thought experiment: Imagine that 6 million Israeli's have brown skin. Imagine that (how many is it?) surrounding Arabs have white skin. If that were the situation, is it even remotely possible that the political left (at least in the US) wouldn't be siding with the Israeli's? Quite honestly, I don't get it. And while I don't particularly like the term "self-hating", the notion of excessively guilt ridden - and blinded to reality by that guilt - certainly has some merit. LGF just posted this great article re the attacks on the lefty French students who were defending their downtrodden brown-skinned citizens. Check it out:

mugged by reality

I reckon that the average "Gaulois" is going to be rethinking their Israel bashing in just a few years time.

Posted by: Caroline at April 6, 2005 04:48 PM

Caroline, notice this paragraph:

Obin discusses the attitudes of Muslim students, some as young as first graders. He reports, for instance, that Muslim students, asked their nationality, answer, "Muslim." When they are told that this is not a nationality and they are French, some insist that they can't be French since they are Muslim. This should come as no surprise. The presidential commission that examined the issue of secularism in 2003 reported that "extremist groups are working to test the Republic's strength and push some young people to reject France and her values."

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at April 6, 2005 06:03 PM

"He reports, for instance, that Muslim students, asked their nationality, answer, "Muslim.""

Joshua - yeah - I noticed that reference to the "ummah".

Ummm... Houston - we have a problem...

I'm just wondering when folks like Markus are going to recognize that it isn't Israel.

Posted by: Caroline at April 6, 2005 07:09 PM

rose:

"David Thomsen -- yeah I'm "self-hating", and humanity affirming, and also trying to support policies that give Israelis, and Jews, a CHANCE for living in a world without virulent antisemitism."

Yeah, that's why you blame Israel for "conquering" Palestinians in wars started by Arabs.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 6, 2005 10:42 PM

caroline --

i'm curious what your problem is with the CONCEPT that Palestinian Arabs have a "right of return"? Don't people who become refugees in wartime have a right to return to their homes once the war is over? If not why?

(I myself don't support the unlimited right of return for Palestinian Arabs either, but I want to hear your rationale for denying them to Palestinians first.)

Posted by: markus rose at April 7, 2005 08:58 AM

"self-hating" epithet reminds me of accusations hurled at anti-segregationist whites in Jim Crow America and apartheid South Africa, against anti-affirmative action blacks today, or anti-illegal immigration Latinos, or insufficiently antisemitic Germans in the thirties. It is just another appeal to 'des volk' or 'la raza'. Fuck 'des Volk'.

Posted by: markus rose at April 7, 2005 09:06 AM

My understanding is that those Palestinians voluntarily left their homes because they assumed that the Arabs would be victorious in the war they launched immediately after partition, and that the Jews would be driven out. They were wrong. Maybe that's why Israel didn't take them back (a question that you raised earlier). Here is a comprehensive account of the history of the Palestinian refugees:

Palestinian refugees

Note the number of Jewish refugees who fled Arab land. Israel took them in. Arab states have refused to absorb the Palestinians. Is anyone calling for the right of Jews to return to their homes? Of course the number of Palestinians is now over 4 million and as this article states, there were originally no more than 650,000. Why do all of their descendents have a "right of return"? They gambled and lost. Too damn bad. Israel has been more than fair from the beginning and it's obvious that the Arab states are just USING the Palestinians - they couldn't actually give a shit about them. Markus - why do you think that the Arab states attacked Israel right after the partition and on several more occasions after that? It's jihad. They simply can't countenance a Jewish state in their midst. So let them choke on their own hatred is my feeling. If I were Israel I wouldn't give an inch cause that's exactly how it would be if the shoe were on the opposite foot.

Posted by: Caroline at April 7, 2005 09:55 AM

Caroline -- I'll look more closely at the article in the Jewish virtual library later today -- it's looks pretty good. But this sentence in the first paragraph is false:

"Had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN resolution, not a single Palestinian would have become a refugee and an independent Arab state would now exist beside Israel."

In truth, if Arabs had accepted the 1947 UN resolution, the Jewish state would now be demographically overwhelmed by its Arab citizens, whose descendents today number close to 4 million. This is and only this reason is why Israel cannot acknowledge the "right of return" today.

Arabs don't admit this because it illustrates their own stupidity and culpability in the dispossession of Palestinian Arabs. Zionists don't admit this because it shows that Zionism depends on ethnic cleansing for its long-term viability.

The ethnic cleansing of the Sephardim from Arab lands certainly did occur, and was an outrage, but it occured AFTER the Palestinian dispossession, and as such ought not be invoked as a justifiable de facto population exchange.

Posted by: markus rose at April 7, 2005 10:13 AM

Markus - While it is true that Israel cannot now accept 4 million palestinians back into its borders because Jews will be demographically overwhelmed, you've used some bizarre and rather inflammatory logic there in stating that "Zionism depends on ethnic cleansing". The article I linked to clearly indicates (with a few exceptions) that the Jews did not drive the Palestinians out. It may well be the case that had the Arabs stayed within Israel (had Arabs accepted the partition in the first place) - that the Jews might now be demographically overwhelmed by Arabs but it is inflammatory to suggest that had that been the case - then they WOULD HAVE resorted to ethnic cleansing. Really - what a bizarre thing to say! Maybe they would have accepted that fate. How do you know? It is also possible that their committment to democratic principles could have created a thriving multi-ethnic and tolerant society (and as we know from demographic trends - people living in democratic societies tend to not have that many children).

"Arabs don't admit this because it illustrates their own stupidity and culpability in the dispossession of Palestinian Arabs"

Gee - how heartening to realize that they were idiots because they had a better way to wipe out the Jews after all and they were too stupid to realize it at the time.

"The ethnic cleansing of the Sephardim from Arab lands certainly did occur, and was an outrage, but it occured AFTER the Palestinian dispossession, and as such ought not be invoked as a justifiable de facto population exchange."

How are these 2 events similar? Palestinians fled Israel when Israel was attacked by the surrounding Arab states and they fled because they were confident that the Arabs would prevail and they'd have it all to themselves (and were in many cases exhorted to leave lest they be traitors to the jihad). Israel didn't attack the Arab states. Rather those Jews left because they were kicked out or threatened - on what basis? Isreal took in their fellow Jews who were kicked out without any provocation while the Arabs refused to take in their fellow Arabs that they had themselves induced to leave. How do you see any moral equivalence there?

What does seem clear to me is that Israel refused to reabsorb the intitial wave of Palestinian refugees (although they actually did take back many) because they had good cause to believe that many of these folks were their mortal enemies. Yet they still fairly compensated them (no such luck for the Jews kicked out of their homes) - yet Kuwait booted out 300,000 Palestinians and they make no excuse whatsoever and noone has a word to say about that. This is simply accepted for national security reasons. Frankly - this all strikes me as utter bullshit. It's really quite infuriating how unfair it is. I just don't understand - Why don't you see it? Why don't you see how unfair it is?

Posted by: Caroline at April 7, 2005 04:16 PM

Markus: "i'm curious what your problem is with the CONCEPT that Palestinian Arabs have a "right of return"? Don't people who become refugees in wartime have a right to return to their homes once the war is over?"

I guess even with alot of verbiage I never did directly answer that question. The short answer is - The war isn't over. The Israeli's would have ended it 60 years ago and at any time from then until now. It's the Arabs (and their proxy Palestinians) who are still waging an offensive jihad against the Israeli's. Why do you expect the Israeli's to commit suicide by reabsorbing 4 million people who desire their annihilation?

Posted by: Caroline at April 7, 2005 04:37 PM

Mary

There is very little point in debating with you regarding the UN: your reading comprehension is too awful.

I am an athiest and the Catholic Church is responsible for child abuse and partly responsible for millions of deaths in Africa.

That's why I have no time for them.

Posted by: at April 7, 2005 06:42 PM

the Catholic Church is responsible for child abuse and partly responsible for millions of deaths in Africa.

As is the UN

Posted by: mary at April 8, 2005 07:06 AM

caroline -- i don't expect israel to commit suicide by absorbing 4 million arabs. i expect israel to acknowledge the necessity of arab dispossession in the establishment of a viable Jewish majority state in the area, and be willing to make some form of restitution.

Posted by: markus rose at April 8, 2005 09:23 AM

caroline -- one more thing. there is absolutely no evidence that arabs exhorted palestinian arabs to leave their homes prior to the war of Independence. One of the Israeli new historians, I forget which one, offered one million dollars to anyone who could show evidence that this occured, and no one came forward.

Edward Said and Michael Totten's buddy Christopher Hitchens edited a collection of essays on the issue of Palestinian dispossession during the establishment of the Jewish state that I would urge you to incorporate into your diet reading materials by the extreme right-wing.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1859843409/002-6318544-8589664?v=glance

Posted by: markus rose at April 8, 2005 09:38 AM

Markus - thanks for that link to the book, although if I had money for books (spousal unemployment problem)do you think I'd spend so much time in the blogosphere (the poor man's library)? :-)

Of course when I see the names Said and Chomsky I'm a little suspicious (and I also read the several 1 star comments refuting the book's basic premises). That said, having closely observed news and reporting out of the ME in the past few years, I am now more than aware of the massive amount of propoganda and disinformation disseminated from the Palestinian/Arab/Islamist/European-American political leftist side of this debate and so in the absence of my own detailed, scholarly study of original source material (I hope you don't expect that of a comments section prairie dog), when I have to choose between 2 competing narratives of events - I'm siding with the Israeli's. That may be lame, it no doubt discredits me as someone to take seriously on these matters (fine by me) but to paraphrase a well-known country-western song - that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Posted by: Caroline at April 9, 2005 11:27 AM

Markus - I should add in defense of my opting to accept the Israeli side of this debate about historical facts - that the actual facts are obviously extremely complex or the debate itself wouldn't be so incredibly polarizing, even among the many so-called experts. So given that I am merely making a comment on a blog and make no pretense at scholarly expertise, I am somewhat in the position of a jury member who, to some extent, has to make a determination regarding the credibility of the witnesses to the actual facts.

That leaves me weighing the credibility of 2 parties. On the one hand I have the Israeli's, who live in a democracy where facts are open to debate and who confront a serious 5th column of the typical guilt-ridden leftists within their own society. On the other side of the debate we have the Arabs, who control information disseminated within their societies; Islamists -who have no problem with lying in order to spread Islam - "Taquiyyah" - (what a nasty doctrine so forgive me if I am now circumspect regarding everything they say but it's their own damned fault (not mine) for willingly embracing a principle of deception over truth); and the political left - who I am now quite aware are willing to re-write history in the interests of spreading "multi-culturalism" and putting the white man (including the Jews) in their place.

There's a propoganda war on. Credibility of the witnesses for either side is a factor. As a jury member trying to evaluate the respective arguments, I am not favorably disposed to the credibility of the Palestinian side of the debate.

Posted by: Caroline at April 9, 2005 11:58 AM

hardcore xxx movieshardcore amateur moviesbest dating site100 best dating free onlinebest dating online servicesbest dating onlinebest dating online servicebest dating online sitebest dating site webbest dating friendbest dating free online servicebest dating free sitebest dating internet sitebest dating rated sitebest dating servicesbest dating directorybest city datingbest dating servicebest dating internet servicesbest dating tipbest dating online site webbest dating softwareadult porn moviesporn action moviesporn adult moviesporn ass fuck moviesporn ass moviesporn banged moviesporn blowjob moviesporn college moviesporn cumshot moviesporn fuck moviesporn fucking moviesporn girl moviesporn handjob moviesporn model moviesporn movies samplesamerican asian dating womanamerican dating servicesamerican dating native siteamerican dating haitian man womanamerican dating online singleamerican dating free singleamerican dating lineamerican chinese datingafrican american dating networkadult american dating dating online online services singleafrican agency american datingadult fetish moviesfetish action moviesfetish adult moviesfetish banged moviesfetish blowjob moviesfetish college moviesfetish cumshot moviesfetish fuck moviesfetish fucking moviesfetish girl moviesultra porn movieswatch porn sex moviesyoung porn moviesporn xxx moviesporn teens moviesporn hardcore moviesadult xxx moviesxxx action moviesxxx adult moviesxxx ass fuck moviesxxx ass moviesxxx banged moviesxxx blowjob moviesxxx college moviesxxx fucking moviesxxx girl moviesxxx handjob moviesxxx model moviesxxx movies samplesxxx movies sexxxx orgy moviesxxx porn moviesxxx pussy moviesxxx sample moviesxxx slut moviesxxx sucking moviesxxx tits moviesxxx woman moviesbig xxx moviesyoung porn moviesporn xxx moviesporn teens moviesporn hardcore moviesporn lesbian moviesadult xxx moviesxxx action moviesxxx adult moviesxxx ass fuck moviesxxx ass moviesxxx banged moviesxxx blowjob movies

Posted by: fdsf at May 5, 2005 08:49 AM
Post a comment













Remember personal info?






Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn