Pontifications blogger, David Gibson, writes about Catholic leaders making grotesque and inaccurate analogies about the situation is Gaza. The most disturbing of which is Cardinal Renato Martino’s analogizing Gaza and a concentration camp.
Having already posted about the death of proportionality in our culture, and the damage done when comparisons of this nature our made, I appreciate David’s attempt to address the issue. I even appreciate that such claims flow from a deep concern with human suffering that must not be denied or minimized, no matter how one views the war in Gaza. And I caution anyone against a line of argument that begins with explaining how these current comments continue a long history of Catholic anti-Semitism. Such an approach is neither helpful nor in the case of these comments, based on any facts of which I am aware.
Three elements of David’s post however, are quite disturbing.
First, he rather casually explains the over-statements of Catholic leaders by explaining that it is only natural that Catholics over-react against Israel because of the possibility of Catholics being killed in Gaza. That’s a dangerous road down which to travel. Every time religious faith is used to circle the wagons around the faithful and provide an excuse for ignoring those beyond, the faithful end up doing pretty bad things.
It is precisely the over-identification with the suffering of those who share our religion, race, or ethnicity which fuels many of these fights. If we are to understand, let alone excuse, Catholic leaders for their remarks, on that basis, why not extend the same approach to Jews who defend Israel the same way? Something more is going on here and it demands more attention than an explanation which would be deeply dissatisfying were the shoe on the other foot.
Second, the post features a photo which is used to portray the suffering of Gazans. Ironically, it’s taken from today’s New York Times story about a Hamas fighter who is happy to see his fellow Gazans die, and is eager to likewise, in order to attain martyrdom. I wonder why, especially for Catholics with the religious significance they attach to martyrdom, David chooses not to address this issue.
Finally, his claim that a better comparison for Gaza would be the Warsaw Ghetto represents either tragic ignorance or something far darker, which only he can explain. Gaza is many things, many of them tragic. And I am not without many serious questions about both sides in this war. But the Warsaw Ghetto? David, please say it ain’t so!
Whatever any of us may think about this war, do you really believe it represents the first major phase in an attempt by Jews to rid the world of every last Palestinian? We don’t need to participate in the shock culture of most media in order to make an important point. And I hope that next time David, you think twice about doing so.