Before you read this Ad Rem, please stop and pray this Prayer to Our Lady of Palestine.
The Gospel for the Feast of Christ the King, celebrated this past Sunday, closes with this verse:
Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice. —John 18:37
What follows is noteworthy. Pilate asks a question: “What is truth?” Rather than waiting for the answer from the One who is uniquely qualified to give it, in typical bureaucratic fashion he attends to other matters: “And when he said this, he went out again to the Jews, and saith to them: I find no cause in him.” At that point, the representative of Caesar begins an imprudent political negotiation with a mob under the sway of the faithless and cruel Caiphas. Pilate loses the negotiation and, committing an act of horrific moral cowardice, washes his hands of the abominable crime he sanctions.
Because Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, we Christians ought to have a supreme love of truth. Because our Adversary the Devil is the “father of lies,” we should hate and execrate all lies. If we are not “of the truth” we will not hear the loving Voice or Our Lord. It is no surprise, then, that Saint Paul commands us, “Lie not one to another: stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds (Col. 3:9).
Sadly, we are presently drowning in an ocean of lies — as is often the way in this vale of tears. Currently, a war is taking place in the Holy Land and we Americans are expected, as good patriots, to cheer for atrocities being committed against the 2.3 million inhabitants of Gaza, which has been described as “a concentration camp” by Israeli journalist, Amira Hass, and as “the world’s largest open-air prison” by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Roald Høvring. In 2009, the great Pat Buchanan called Gaza “a vast penal colony with no access to the outer world by land, sea or air, except by permission of the Israeli military.” (Here is Buchanan several years ago, in one-minute video, delivering an uncommon amount of common sense on the subject.)
A Bloody Background
In order to understand the background, we need to go to the era of colonial immigration of European Jews to the Holy Land that led to the founding of the Zionist state in 1948. There was a great deal of brutality against the natives who already inhabited the area — including Muslims and Christians (Catholic and Orthodox), as has been documented not only by Arab-Muslim sources, but also Jewish sources (see here, here, and here). Among the persecuted Palestinians was the family of the Catholic Melkite Archbishop Elias Chacour, who bears the august title, Archbishop of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth, and All Galilee. His first book on the subject, Blood Brothers, was written from a very loving and forgiving, but also fact-based, perspective. Brother Francis highly recommended it as a good summary of the subject for Catholics.
In the United States and much of the world that our American Evangelicals have exported their ideas to, so-called “Christian Zionism” has turned many Protestants (and tragically, now many Catholics) into indefatigable, uncritical advocates of the Zionist cause. Five years ago, I discussed the history of this in two back-to-back episodes of Reconquest which can be heard for free on our site.
The Oxymoron that Is “Christian Zionism”:
Politics of False Religion
The events going on in the Holy Land are being shoehorned into America’s oversimplified binary political parlance — the same parlance, be it noted, that excludes the social Reign of Christ the King. If you are a good conservative, you are supposed to cheer for a genocide of Palestinians in the Holy Land because it’s just the right thing to do. Don’t believe me? See what our new, “conservative” Speaker of the House says is his first priority. See also the Zionist political credo of three other “conservatives.” This is all a result of the heretical Scofield Reference Bible and the absurd dispensationalism that led many (though not all) Protestants to adopt a creed that opposes not only Catholic orthodoxy but even the historical beliefs of most Protestant denominations. If this comes as a shock to you, please give a listen to those episodes of Reconquest; I cover it all there.
Here is a quick summary: Basing themselves upon the novelties of the Scofield Reference Bible, Christian Zionists completely misread Genesis 12:3. They ignore the fulfillment of these words in passages such as Gal. 3:16-29, Luke 1:54-55, Matt. 3:9, and Gal. 5:6. Moreover, they neglect the very important Catholic concept of the Continuity of Religion, and the proper way to read the Bible according to the four senses of Scripture. Concerning the four senses, in Matins for the Feast of Christ the King, we see the following applied to Jesus Christ in the first antiphon: “I have been set up as King by Him on Sion, His holy mountain, proclaiming His decree” (Ps. 2:6). Sion is now the Catholic Church, as are Jerusalem and Israel itself. This elemental Catholic approach to the Old Testament in light of the New is essential to our Liturgy, but it is foreign to the Christian Zionist. Add to this fetid soup the heretical eschatology called dispensationalism, and we have the essential content of Christian Zionism.
At this point, I well may be accused by certain partisans of being a Muslim-simp and a shill for Hamas. I am neither. We have enough material on this site critical of the religion of “the Prophet” to disprove that (see here, here, and here, for example). Further, any targeting of non-combatants by Hamas is just as wrong as the same acts perpetrated by the IDF. Both sides appear to be guilty of war crimes at this point, though the disparity of proportion is vast. Let us recall that we have Catholic brothers and sisters in Gaza, and, just as Israel’s bombs are not discriminating between combatants and non-combatants, neither are they discriminating between Christians and Muslims.
Not All Jewish People Are Pro-Israel
It needs to be understood that, among Jews, the thinking about the Palestinian question is not at all monolithic. Yes, many are Zionists who will support Israel against the Palestinians no matter what. But some of the most eloquent anti-Zionists have been and still are Jews, and these folks are not at all agreed among themselves as to why they oppose the policy of apartheid against Palestinians. Secular, liberal Jews like Ilan Pappe, Norman Finkelstein, and Dr. Gabor Maté have their own outlook on the question, based largely upon their liberal antipathy to “colonialism” as well as a sense of natural justice. Their motivations are informed by a secular political outlook. For a radically different perspective, we can look to Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, Rabbi Yisroel Feldman, and their Israeli Haredim brethren. (For reference, the Haredim are commonly called “Ultra-Orthodox,” a term I have come to learn that they do not like.) The Haredi perspective is based upon a fundamental theological disagreement with Zionism. The Haredim contend that Jewish political hegemony in the Holy Land can only come about when the promised Messiah comes to lead the Jews. This, by the way, is why Orthodox Jews historically tended to oppose Zionism very strongly: It was tantamount to — and often explicitly was — a denial of the person of the Messiah, transferring the messianic identity away from the personal Messiah of Old-Testament prophesy and to the Jewish nation itself. This, among other reasons, is why the Heredim call Zionists “heretics.”
Catholic opposition to Zionism is also based both on theology, as outlined five paragraphs up, and on the just claims to their homelands of the Palestinian people, no matter what their religion. (Yes, Muslims are entitled to natural justice, and branding them “human animals,” as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant recently did, is the kind of dehumanization that easily leads to war crimes by many nations, including our own.)
Love of Jews and Muslims:
Our Christian Duty
When I posted a prayer to Our Lady of Palestine and a brief review of a book sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians on social media, I was criticized for essentially taking the side of Muslims. But this is a classic false dialectic that has been programmed into the modern mind by our very biased media. We have to be on the side of truth and justice no matter what — and we have to do so with Christian charity. When I calmly explained my point of view to one of my critical interlocutors — who was beautifully responsive to what I had to say — I did it in the following terms, responding, in my opening words, to her explanation that Islam is a false religion because it is a “political system” that spreads itself by sanguinary means. The most important content is in the last two paragraphs, which I have put in bold:
Islam is first and foremost a false religion because it denies the Trinity and the Incarnation. The same may be said of Judaism.
I’m well aware of Islamic brutality and celebrate the victories of Lepanto, Belgrade, and Vienna with as much gusto as the next red-blooded traditionalist. I am also aware that not all Muslims are murderous Jihadis, just as not all Jews are IDF soldiers who deliberately target innocent civilians.
Atrocities abound all around.
I have spoken to both Muslims and Jews about Jesus Christ and am still alive to tell about it.
I agree that Europe’s profligate policy of immigration from Islamic countries is imprudent, evil, and, ultimately, self-destructive.
As Catholics, our duty to Muslims and to Jews is identical: to love them enough to bring both to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church so that they can be saved. Otherwise, they are all lost. This will require evangelism, not ecumenism, and yes, martyrdom will be necessary, as it always has been. This coincides with the Church’s duty to God, namely, to make Him known and loved by all men in all nations. We must love God so much as to will this.
Meanwhile, we cannot justify the violations against the natural law that persist in the systematic injustices against the Palestinian people, some of whom are our Catholic brothers and sisters. And this is the subject of the above video.
The answer to all of humanity’s problems is in the keeping of Holy Mother Church. It is the life of grace; of faith, hope, and charity; of the gifts of the Holy Ghost; and of the Beatitudes. The deathly cycle of violence in the Holy Land will never end until the Prince of Peace, who was rejected and killed there, is accepted with open hearts by Jews and Arabs alike. As Christians, we are to love them all, even if they are our enemies, for such is the divine commandment given by that same Prince of Peace.
While peace talks, treaties, prudent political negotiations, and the like may bring some temporary reprieve to the violence, the real solution is in the Sermon on the Mount, where we are told,
You have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. (Matt. 5:43-45)
Jesus Himself gave us the example. The answer to hate is love — real love, Christian love for which faith is a necessary foundation. This is the love that Saint Maximilian Kolbe (who was no ecumenist, and who is unjustly called “anti-Semitic”) had for the Jews whom he protected from the Nazis. This is the love that Saint Charles de Foucauld had for the Muslims among whom he lived, some of whom ultimately murdered him.
It is the saints, men and women perfected in the love of God and the gift of wisdom, who are the peacemakers. Be a saint and be part of the Catholic response to the problem. But remember, supernatural charity is not possible without a firm commitment that thing to which poor Pilate was so indifferent — the truth. For the King of Love is the way, the truth, and the life, and all those who are of the truth hear His blessed Voice.