Sunday, 21 June 2009

Unfortunately - Israel is not Iran

The good news is that Israel is a democracy. That – is also the bad news.

Unlike in Iran, the actions and policies of governments in Israel reflect the wishes of the people. Israelis have knowingly and freely voted in right-wing governments for many years.

Unlike Iran, Israel stands no chance of being saved by a revolution.

Put Up or Shut Up

Israelis often claim that they would be willing to give up the Occupied Territories (West Bank) in the framework of a “real peace” agreement with the Palestinians. Should one believe them?

If Israelis really want peace and if they are really willing to give up the Occupied Territories and if they are, rightly, worried about handing over control to an unreliable and unstable Palestinian Authority, let Israel:

• Unilaterally move the Jewish Settlers from the Occupied Territories back to Israel and dismantle the Jewish settlements.
• Retain her military control until a peace agreement is reached between the two sides.

Much would be achieved by such an act:

• Removing the settlers would immediately reduce the friction between Israelis and Palestinians and help pacify the West Bank. Much of the friction is the direct result of provocations by Jewish settlers and not due to actions of the Israeli army. The calmer atmosphere would give peace talks a better chance.
• Once the deed will be done, Israeli governments will no longer be constrained and limited in their ability to act by the ransom to which the Jewish settlers hold them. No longer will Israeli governments be afraid of the civil unrest and disobedience that may be unleashed by the settlers.
• It would send a clear signal that Israel is really willing to get out of the West Bank. Neither the Arabs, nor many of Israel’s friends in other countries believe this to be the case.
• The dynamics of such a truly momentous move could kick-start the peace process. The onus would be on the Palestinians to get their act together and stop prevaricating as they have been doing for so many years.

Unless, of course, those who do not believe that Israel is willing to get out of the Occupied Territories, are right.

Friday, 12 June 2009

German Jews tell Catholics what to pray for

The Central Committee of German Catholics, through their joint working group of Catholics and Jews, has recently produced a pamphlet calling for the Christian mission to convert Jews to Christianity to be abolished.

This German effort comes in the wake of last year’s decision of Pope Benedict XVI to bring back the Easter prayer’s old text. Many Jews were angered by the Church’s return to “Let us also pray for the Jews: That our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all men.” Some called for a freeze on Jewish-Catholic dialogue.

But, let us face it: according to their faith, for the whole of mankind to acknowledge that Christ is the Saviour is exactly what Christians should hope for.

Why do German Rabbis and German Jewish academics, members of this working group, co-produce pamphlets on issues of Catholic theology? If Catholics believe that their role in life is to proselytise, let them proselytise. If Catholics decide to change their view - that should be their decision. It is their religion and their business.

Fortunately, the Catholic Church no longer has the power to force anyone to convert. It is no longer necessary for Jews to appeal to the Popes to revoke anti-Jewish legislation or actions.