Is Pope Francis Using Anti-Semitic Imagery in Criticizing His Opponents?

March 21 2017

In a recent letter to the pope, Rabbi Giuseppe Laras—the former head of the Italian rabbinic assembly and an important figure in Jewish-Catholic dialogue—called the pontiff to task for the presence in his preaching of “an undercurrent . . . of resentment, intolerance, and annoyance on the Christian side toward Judaism, a substantial distrust of the Bible, and a subsequent minimization of the Jewish biblical roots of Christianity.” Matthew Schmitz explains:

In his morning homilies, Pope Francis has been offering increasingly frequent and bitter denunciations of Catholics who oppose his push to give communion to the divorced and remarried. Sometimes he has portrayed these people as effeminate and womanish. More usually he has portrayed them as rigid legalists—as Pharisees who “sit in the chair of Moses and judge.”

Of course, his opponents don’t like to be insulted. As it turns out, the people he stereotypes in order to insult his opponents (vain, clothes-mad women; bitter, rule-obsessed Jews) don’t like it, either. . . . Laras is aware of and grateful for recent improvements in Catholic understanding of Judaism—but he laments that these seem to be lost on Francis. . . . Laras says that “it is saddening . . . that those who raise objections, perplexities, concerns, and indignation . . . must always be Jews . . . and not instead in the first place authoritative Christian voices that right away and much sooner should assert themselves with a bold and frank ‘no.’”

Too many authoritative Christian voices—both bishops and theologians—have greeted Pope Francis’s anti-Jewish rhetoric with silence, smooth excuses, or applause. When will they speak out with the boldness of Rabbi Laras?

Read more at First Things

More about: Anti-Semitism, Catholic Church, Jewish-Catholic relations, Pope Francis, Religion & Holidays

 

How Israel Should Approach Syria in the Wake of the U.S. Airstrikes

April 27 2017

Nearly three weeks after a U.S. attack on a Syrian airbase, it remains unclear if Washington will start working actively against the Assad regime or simply enforce red lines. Ilan Goldenberg argues that in either case Israel should stick to the strategy it has been pursuing all along—one that will only be helped by greater American involvement:

The good news is that much of the area of southern Syria is now controlled by a group of moderate Sunni forces known as the Southern Front. This group is an alliance of smaller local militias that has been supported by the United States and Jordan with some quiet support from Israel. As a result, southern Syria has become one of the most stable areas in the country, resulting in a default buffer zone that protects both Israel and Jordan. The key for Israel will be to ensure that in any final resolution of the Syrian conflict or change in Trump administration policy, the Southern Front remains in place. . . .

[Another] central objective for Israel will be to prevent the proliferation of chemical weapons in Syria that could get into the hands of extremists who may launch attacks on Israeli civilians. At the start of the Syria conflict this was the foremost Israeli priority. . . . The priority Israel places on this issue also explains why the Israeli minister of defense, Avigdor Liberman, came out so strongly in support of the military strikes against the Assad regime, drawing a sharp rebuke from Vladimir Putin. In most instances, Israel has tried to avoid antagonizing Russia or getting in the middle of U.S-Russian competition, but on this particular matter it is highly invested in the American position.

Finally, Israel . . . has a broader overarching objective of trying to limit Iranian influence in Syria. . . . Iranian-supported militias and operatives of the Qods Force [Iran’s elite expeditionary troops] are deeply enmeshed inside the Syrian regime at this point, and Israel likely recognizes that. Iran will continue to have influence in Syria and be able to use its allies in Damascus to supply and strengthen Hizballah. All Israel can do is push for American policies that limit Tehran’s influence in Syria to the largest extent possible, while recognizing the reality of the situation on the ground.

Read more at Matzav

More about: Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy