Hell in the Holy Land - a different perspective

Tuesday, 21 November 2023


We receive and publish the following:

by Raphael Schutz*

The article "Hell in the Holy Land" by the Archbishop of Horms, Hama and Nabek (see Fides, 15/11/2023), focuses, as indicated in its title, on the current war, but also deals with the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and some other regional aspects. I appreciate the opportunity to present a different perspective about the above-mentioned text.

False parallels a broken moral compass
If I had to limit myself to only one point in the article, it would surely be the sentence "It is not humane for Palestinians to kill Israelis in Kibbutzim. And it is not humane for Israelis to bomb churches and hospitalsl'
This sentence is important because it encapsulates an unfortunate tendency to draw false parallels and symmetries where they don't exist. While Hamas, Hezbollah and other Iran proxies' aim is to murder as many Israeli civilians as possible, in order to eventually annihilate the Jewish state, the Israeli military action is the clearest case of self-defense.
Its objective is to restore the security of the same civilians. While doing so the IDF sometimes has to attack churches and hospitals, as well as schools and kinder gardens, because Hamas uses such installations and others, that "should be the last garrisons of humanity" as operational centers for its criminal activities. By doing so Hamas converts those places into legitimate military objectives under international law and I'd add also under moral and common sense. IDF in line with Israel ls adherence to international law and its commitment to reduce as much as possible the number of innocent victims, is taking many preventive measures before attacking civil targets converted into Hamas centers. Hamas, in sharp contrast, is not only using the Palestinian civil population as human shield but actively and brutally tries to prevent this population from saving itself knowing that Israel will be the one to be blamed for any civil casualty.
Reducing this reality and the abysmal motivations of the two sides, into a sentence that ignores all of them is a disappointing indicator of a broken moral compass,
Another sentence that hints for the same flaw is "Evil can not be eradicated by evil". Wars are always terrible yet sometimes they must be fought. Nobody would describe the allied forces fighting the Nazis in Europe in the 40s as "evil" and there is no moral person that can use this term regarding the IDF operation now.

What are "Palestinian refugees" about?
I'm afraid my comment must go beyond the moral point into the historical part of the article: While referring to the Palestinians Archbishop Mourad wrote: "Since 1948 they have lived as refugees in camps scattered around the Middle East". This is a cliché one can frequently hear spelled out almost automatically in the context of the conflict. I beg the intelligent readers to avoid this "automatic pilot" and ask themselves few questions, mainly about the circumstances of 750 thousand Palestinians becoming refugees in 1948 (the short answer — rejecting the two states solution, the Palestinian leadership declared war against the Jews, which they, the aggressor, lost) but also how come that unlike many millions of refugees in post WW2 Europe, they were not integrated in Lebanon, Syria and other Arab countries but were kept as second-class citizens. Moreover, how come that from 750 thousand in 1948 they claim to be about 5 million today? This must be the only case in which the status of refugee goes "from generation to generation". The simple answer is that since 1948 "the refugees" were more then anything else a political anti-Israeli tool in hands of the Arab world that preferred to use and manipulate instead of solving it, as was done in Europe and also in Israel itself that in the years following 1948 absorbed more than one million Jewish refugees persecuted and/or expelled from Arab Muslim countries.

The loudest unheard voice ever
The article makes the assertion the Palestinians have not been able to make themselves heard. This is far from reality as may testify an endless number of anti-Israeli resolutions in the UN and its agencies. In many of them the professional agenda was highjacked, serious debates about real global challenges were brushed off, sacrificed and replaced by flagrant antiIsraeli propaganda. The Palestinians do it with the automatic majority of non-democratic states in the organization. One example among many is the "UN human rights council" that had since its establishment taken anti-Israeli resolutions related to the conflict in a larger number then regarding all other world conflicts combined. In reality Palestinians enjoy much wider international attention then many more serious problems around the globe.

A linguistic conclusion
My short concluding comment is rather of a linguistic nature: While Archbishop Mourad writes about Israel bombing hospitals, one sentence later, when referring to hospitals in Horns and Aleppo he prefers to use the passive form "they were bombed" without identifying who did the bombing. I don't want to be explicit while explaining his choice. I'm sure the intelligent reader understands
(Agenzia Fides, 21/11/2023)

*Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See