Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pope: "trepidation" for innocent victims of Gaza







(AsiaNews) - At today's Angelus, Benedict XVI issued another anguished appeal for peace in the Gaza Strip, as news was coming of the unilateral ceasefire by Tel Aviv, violated this morning by Hamas, followed by a heavy Israeli response to the missiles of the radical Islamic movement. "I follow with profound trepidation," the pope said, "the conflict in the Gaza Strip. Let us also remember today before the Lord the hundreds of children, elderly, women, the innocent victims of the unprecedented violence, the injured, those mourning their loved ones and those who have lost their possessions." So far, more than 1,100 people have been killed in Gaza, more than a third of them children. This morning, the bodies of about one hundred children and other civilians were found beneath the rubble from the bombardments.
The pope then called for prayers for all of those trying "to stop the tragedy."
"In this sense," he continued, "I renew my encouragement to those who, on both sides, believe that there is room for everyone in the Holy Land, so that they may help their people to rise again from the rubble and from the terror, and, courageously, return to dialogue in justice and truth. This is the only path that can truly reveal a future of peace for the children of this beloved region!"

25 comments:

Henry said...

What can one do when people have a total disregard for the lives of their own people? Here is an account (in English!) by an initially sceptical Swedish journalist who went to find out what it was like living under constant rocket attack.
Rockets that hollow-out the soul

Personally I think the Israelis have come down too heavily but no other country with the firepower would have reacted any differently in the end, in the face of years of this kind of harrassment from neighbours.

George said...

Lord, how much longer must this human tragedy continue? Haven't the arms manufacturers and traders made enough profit from human misery? When the proud and pompous politicians who puff out their chests and strut around like peacocks finally come to their senses and hold meaningful discussions with each other based on the primary precept of the sacred nature and inherent dignity of all human life as ordained by God, whether you are Jewish, Muslim or Christian then perhaps things might begin to change for the better and peace will be given a chance. Until GOD is firmly at the centre of all negotiations the politicians will achieve very little. Holy Mary, Mother of God and Queen of the Universe intercede and pray for us. Queen of Peace pray for us. Please let the Holy Land become a place of true and lasting peace among people's of differing beliefs as an example to the whole world that God's love reigns supreme.

nickbris said...

The most diabolical attack on innocent civilians since Guernica.Somebody has to be brought to book over this.

It is so easy to claim victory over a totally defenceless enemy,Israel must be very proud of themselves,will they have a victory parade after this "Turkey Shoot'?

They could so easily talk to Hamas,Hamas is only trying to tell the world what is going on in that area ,millions of innocent Palestinians have been living in squalid Refugee Camps for 3 generations and nobody gives a fig.

The United Nations was formed to stop this sort of thing and they are totally impotent.

We are constantly fed misinformation about the destruction of Israel by all of the neighbours but what about Egypt?they signed a treaty with Israel which has held and that was only after TALKING.

Son of Trypho said...

what about Egypt?they signed a treaty with Israel which has held and that was only after TALKING.

-well, talking about misinformation: - you are aware that a war was conducted by Egypt in 1973 and their loss in that war led to the peace negotiations and treaty?
and besides, the treaty didn't work out to well for Sadat in the long run - gunned down folks who actually share many of the same views as Hamas incidentally.

-now back to commonsense - the tragedy of this conflict is that both sides are clearly in the wrong. Israel has used force well in excess of what was required and Hamas are an atrocious regime which are actually working against Palestinian interests. Independent (and effective, unlike UNIFIL) peace keepers should be imposed on Gaza and the West Bank, Israelis should be withdrawn to 67 borders and possibly the mainly Muslim demographic areas in the north should be added to an emerging Palestinian state. Both states should have secular constitutions with rights of residence for all religions and respect for all places of worship and aid package should be given to help set up viable infrastructure in the new Palestinian state.
This solution must be imposed IMHO by the major powers if your seriously considering peace.

gemoftheocean said...

"It is so easy to claim victory over a totally defenceless enemy,Israel must be very proud of themselves,will they have a victory parade after this "Turkey Shoot'?

Nickbris, you really need to advertise a "barf bag alert" when you post something this silly. Remind me who fired their rockets into Israeli men, women and children unprovoked and are now "surprised" that when Muzzie terrorist hide behind their women and diapered children they are struck back at? Please. Get real.

I don't believe for one minute the Euro"intellectual" ISN'T anti-semitic. NOT ONE TIME EVER have "you people" organized mass protests in the street when Israel gets attacked unprovoked. But let Israel react back and you go into crying hysterics. It gets really old really fast, and you don't fool anyone. And if Hamas is blown all to hell, that would be fine by me. Where can I donate?

epsilon said...

"Your prayers with us move the whole world and teach it that any love that is prevented from reaching your brothers and sisters in Gaza is not the love of Christ and the Church. The love of Christ and the Church does not recognize political and social barriers, wars and so on. When your love reaches us, it makes us feel that we, in Gaza, are an integral part of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and our Muslim brothers and sisters in our midst are our people and our destiny, we have what they have and we suffer like they do, we are all the people of Palestine.

Your Brother,
Father Manuel Mussallam
Priest of the Catholic Church in Gaza
January 12, 2009

old believer said...

"...Israel gets attacked unprovoked."

So taking other peoples land, forcing them to live like cattle, ignoring international agreements by agressively colonisation is not provocation?

How many Israelis have been killed by the glorified fireworks Hamas has fired in frustration at the treatment of the Palestinian people? Compare that with the slaughter of Palestinian children.

I P said...

The root problem is that Hamas believes that once a land has become Moslem it should remain so until the end of time. Hence the Jews when invaded by the arab armies lost any right to any part of their historic land. Hamas is completely unwilling to depart from this position and compromise is impossible. Without a change of heart on their part talks are a waste of time.

When in 1967 the Israelis offered peace talks with the Arab nations it was met with the slogan "no peace, no negotiation, no recognition". Years later some nations, namely Jordan and Egypt, and even later, the PLO opted for peace but Libya, Iran, Syria kept up an intransigeant position.

It takes two to talk and each must refrain from violence(firing rockets) and recognise each other.Should Hamas recognise Israel and use its energies to develop Gaza all is possible. After all Gaza has all those surrendered Jewish settlements and state of the art greenhouses which since 2005 have been in Arab hands. As it is they get a quite disproportionate share of aid and always appear on TV well dressed and well fed.

gemoftheocean said...

Fr. Epsilon: Prauers for you. But you might want to tell a policeman if any of your "Muslim brothers" are launching any rockets nearby. Some of your "Muslim brothers" are known to launch rockets, then hide behind their women, babies in diapers, and I dare say priests.

George said...

Nickbris writes - 'Hamas is only trying to tell the world what is going on in that area'.

What!!!! By firing rockets into Jewish settlements????? This cannot be the right way to tell anyone about anything, all it does is continue the murder and misery.

To 'tell' means to TALK. Sadly that is what is lacking. Both sides need to be brave and 'man' enough to sit down together for meaningful discussions and solutions to end this conflict which over so many years has achieved what precisely? NOTHING! Just more Holy Land soil soaked with the blood and tears of human suffering on all sides.

The solution can only be found when all sides dialogue with each other. Put down your weapons and TALK! Put the differences and past to one side and focus on the common ground - dignity and humanity first and foremost. Do it for your children. Please God may it all end soon.

roydosan said...

"Israel gets attacked unprovoked"

I think the Palestinians would see it differently seeing as the vast majority are refugees or the children of refugees from 1948. The people living in the towns and cities hit by the rockets are the people (or their descendants) that expelled the Palestinians in 1948. This doesn't justify the rockets by any means but they do have a right to feel angry. If more than sixty years of occupation isn't a provocation then what is? An oppressed people will always resist that is entirely natural.

The solution to this problem is justice for the Palestinians. Whilst they continue to be denied a fair and just settlement to the wrongs of 1948 one can understand, however much one might disaprove, why they back rejectionist parties like Hamas. A just settlement would remove the support for Hamas and provide Israel with genuine security.

Michael Petek said...

Roydosan, may I put this in some perspecrive, please?

The displacement of the Palestinians in 1948 was more or less contemporaneous with the displacement of my mother from East Prussia, and of fourteen million other ethnic Germans from eastern Europe.

On top of that are the Poles displaced from territories assigned to the Soviet Union, ethnic Hungarians displaced from neighbouring countries to the south and east, and ethnic Italians displaced from Yugoslavia.

Two million Germans lost their lives during the flight and expulsions, more than the number of Palestinian Arabs then alive.

If these Germans and their descendants - myself included - had undertaken a modest fraction of the headbanging the Palestinians have done for the past sixty years, Europe would have been reduced to ash and cinders decades ago.

roydosan said...

Michael, I sympathise with what happened to your family but the German refugees were settled in what was left of the German state and were able to rebuild their lives and live in freedom (in the West at least). The Palestinians on the other hand have been living in refugee camps for sixty years and have never been free. They continue to have their defeat rubbed in at every opportunity. 1948 is not some distant memory, they live with the very real consequences of it every day. We cannot turn the clock back to before the state of Israel - Israel is a fact and it is not going anywhere but until the Palestinians are given justice and freedom they will continue to resist, as I warrant would any other people under occupation.

Michael Petek said...

Roydosan, the Palestinians have not all been living in refugee camps.

Most of them became Jordanian nationals when Jordan annexed the West Bank. Those who found themselves in Gaza were under Egyptian rule until 1967, and those who settled in Egypt proper became nationals of that country.

The only Palestinians who have been confined in what are properly called refugee camps are those who settled in Lebanon and Syria. They are not allowed to become citizens of these states, and are for that reason stateless.

A significant number of Palestinians have taken the nationality of other states and have full civil rights there. Afif Safieh, the former Palestinian Representative to London, is a Belgian national because his wife is a Belgian.

The point I have been trying to make is that there comes a time in every conflict when its human cost has become so high that one side or another does better to sue for peace than to continue an intractable struggle.

And the fact that I am the son of an East Prussian refugee means that I can look any Palestinian of my generation in the face.

roydosan said...

Michael, the examples you gave are from the 4 million Palestinian refugees outside the Holy Land. There are another 5 million Palestinians in the Israel & the occupied territories; a large proportion of whom are refugees from the creation of Israel. e.g. in Gaza there are 1 million refugees out of a population of 1.5 million. These people are not settled. A large number are still in refugee camps located in Gaza & the West Bank.

The conflict will remain intractable until there is peace with justice. The Oslo process and Camp David never offered true justice or an equitable division of the land. Both sides are surely guilty of many wrongs but Israel will never solve the Palestinian problem until it offers a fair settlement. That means talking to Hamas. The alternative is that in time the Palestinians will become as disillusioned with Hamas as they did with the PLO and turn to a more extreme form of Islam.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I am rejecting any furter comments, that seem to question the veracity of hat the Holy Father is saying.

Let us not reduce this to a vain political squabble, that is not the answer, and certainly not the Christian solution.

joe mc said...

Thanks for that, Father. I'm depressed that Epsilon's quotation from Fr Mussallam's appeal for prayer - the full text of which I found on Epsilon's blog - has been drowned out by a cacophony of ''They're right/ no they're right" etc, none of which can help anybody suffering in Israel/ Palestine right now. I admit to being as good as any at the art of the political rant ;) but I was moved and sobered to hear a voice from the Church in Gaza. Thanks, Epsilon. If you can, please assure Fr Mussallam of my prayers.

George said...

Joe MC said 'Thanks, Epsilon. If you can, please assure Fr Mussallam of my prayers'.

Count me in on that one also. God Bless.

Michael Petek said...

Roydosan, your figures are about right, except that the Palestinians are the only people in the world for whom refugee status is hereditary.

As for me, not only my mother, but also my father, was a refugee. He had to flee Yugoslavia because the Communists were going to shoot him. But I am a British citizen and the UK is my home.

Most Palestinians of the West Bank have to be considered in law as Jordanian nationals, having been (unlawfully) deprived en masse of this nationality when Jordan relinquished its claim on the territory in 1988.

Now, I have to come quickly to the point, in view of Father's previous posting.

The Christian solution that Father calls for is found in Pope Pius XI's Encyclical Quas Primas on the Kingship of Christ and Ubi Arcano on the peace of Christ in His Kingdom.

". . . We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Saviour, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations."

As long as people - including Hamas - refuse the Prince of Peace and Author of Life, they cannot but embrace endless war and death.

Henry said...

The Israelis' conduct appears to have been far more than justified and will be counter-productive. However, the area of land called Palestine was occupied continuously by Jews from the time of the bible ie there never was a time that Jews were not present in significant numbers. This land was occupied successively by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs and the Ottoman Turks.

During the Muslim occupations the Jews were treated like third class citizens (Dhimmis) in accordance with the Koran's instructions, as they were in all other countries.

Those areas mostly occupied by Jews were allocated for a Jewish state by the United Nations in 1947. When the British Mandate came to an end, the state of Israel was declared and immediately attacked by five Arab countries with the intention of getting rid of all the Jews. But they lost and Israel ended up with its pre-1967 area. The Arab inhabitants had previously been advised to leave by the Arab countries which were attacking, so that they would not be in the way of their military operations and that was the start of the refugee problem. But the number displaced at that time was under a million, not five million.

At the same time, a comparable number of Jews left Muslim countries after centuries of oppression and moved to Israel, leaving their homes and possessions behind them and receiving no compensation. The Palestinians could easily have been settled in this abandoned property but were prevented from doing so by the other Arab governments. So it is the Arab governments who have been primarily responsible for people being left in refugee camps for decades.

Nick - The Israelis might be willing to talk to Hamas but Hamas will not talk to the Israelis.

roydosan said...

Henry, the expulsion of the Jewish communities from the Arab states was also a tragedy but it is somewhat bizarre to think that the expelled Palestinians could somehow take their place. The end of the Jewish communities in the Arab states was a tragedy, but that has happened. As a Catholic I am conscious and afraid that we may in future speak in the same way of Arab Christians. The oppression of the Israeli occupation has caused an exodus of Palestinian Christians. It is important for the survival of Christian communities in the Middle East that peace is found and that will only happen with justice.


The Holy Land is big enough for Jews, to share it with Arab Muslims and Christians. Israel is not at risk, it has nuclear weapons and the most powerful, modern military in the region. If Israel can be big enough to make a serious push for a fair peace (rather than a false peace based on its racism and apartheid like ideas) I think it will find even Hamas is willing to sit down with them. This siege mentality will not get them anywhere nor will killing Palestinians. As Bill Clinton put it - we Christians, Jews and Muslims are all sons of Abraham. Peace is harder than war but it is the only solution in the end. I pray that all sides will heed the Pope's call.an

Henry said...

The Palestinian refugees - who mostly left on the advice of Arab governments when they declared war on the original pint-sized Israel - were kept in their camps because their Arab brethren would not let them resettle but wanted to use them to create the festering sore they have been ever since. They could indeed have settled elsewhere in the Arab world had the desire to assist been there but unfortunately it was not.

The emigration of Jews from Arab countries caused economic problems for those countries and immigrants would have been beneficial.

The exodus of Arab Christians has more to do with harrassment by their Moslem brethren and at least they have had the opportunity to rebuild their lives in countries where they have found a welcome and settled down nicely.

The holy land might be big enough but Moslems are apparently unable to co-exist with anyone as soon as they become the majority. That has been the history since the seventh century. They are in conflict with their non-Muslim neighbours world-wide. Before the advent of Islam the Jews, Christians and pagan Arabs lived in harmony even in Saudi Arabia, from which the non-Muslims were quickly banished in the seventh century. Then they wiped out the Christians of North Africa, conquered Jewish and pagan Yemen, Jewish and Christian Palestine, and Jewish and Christian Mesopotamia (Babylon). Then it was the turn of the Zoroastrians of Persia to be wiped out, followed by the Buddhists of Afghanistan. Having got to Morocco, the Arabs turned north and invaded Spain and continued up into France until they were defeated by the army of Charles Martell.

Then they drove into India and attacked the Hindus; thousands were massacred. Then it was the Turkic tribes of Central Asia, who, once converted, rode westwards and attacked the Byzantine Empire, eventually destroying it. Then they moved into the Balkans, Hungary and besieged Vienna, which narrowly escaped the fate of Constantinople when the Polish king brought his cavalry to the rescue.

In north Africa, Egypt, Yemen and Iraq, the persecution of Jews and Christians continued into the twentieth century. The Armenian Christians were the subject of a holocaust, whilst the Christian Greeks community was ethnically cleansed after World War I, the Greek city of Smyrna being wiped off the map and renamed Smyrna. Nobody came to their rescue.

With a history like that, who would trust themselves to living under Muslim rule or even shared government? With a bit of commonsense the Palestinians could achieve independence within their own boundaries but the idea of sharing is unrealistic.

Henry said...

My mistake. Greek Smyrna became Turkish Izmir.

Michael Petek said...

Henry's talking sense here.

The Muslim claim that the Holy Land is sacred to them is bogus. Muhammad was never physically present there, and when he died it was still part of the Christian Roman Empire. The Al-Aqsa Mosque stands on the site of the Church of St Mary of Justinian.

So that leaves the only two religions in the world which truly participate in the divine revelation which makes the Holy Land holy in the first place.

Now, concerning the displacement of the Palestinians in 1948: half of them were displaced between November 1947 and the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948. The context was the general breakdown of civil authority as the British prepared to leave.

Where civil authority has collapsed or is collapsing, the gravest moral duty is to restore peace by establishing and stabilising ordered government, by coercion as and when necessary. All other temporal considerations are secondary.

This is an exigency of human nature as designed by God. The Jews beat everyone else to it by establishing the State of Israel, so they have, so to speak, the 'moral advantage' the Arabs would have had if they had been first off the mark.

Pope Leo XII taught in Humanum Genus:

"25. As men are by the will of God born for civil union and society, and as the power to rule is so necessary a bond of society that, if it be taken away, society must at once be broken up, it follows that from Him who is the Author of society has come also the authority to rule; so that whosoever rules, he is the minister of God. Wherefore, as the end and nature of human society so requires, it is right to obey the just commands of lawful authority, as it is right to obey God who ruleth all things; and it is most untrue that the people have it in their power to cast aside their obedience whensoever they please. "

Michael Petek said...

By the way, Henry, Smyrna was remaned Izmir.