Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 06/21/24

In the Courts of Three Popes by Mary Ann Glendon

If you’re looking for an interesting read. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mary Ann Glendon. The retired Harvard Law School professor and former American ambassador to the Holy See talked about her book In the Court of Three Popes An American Lawyer and Diplomat in the Last Absolute Monarchy of the West in which she recounts her experiences as what she terms “an outsider who had a vantage point from a number of positions in the Vatican” during the papacies of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. Our conversation can be read in the current summer hard copy edition of Religion & Liberty.

From horror to heroism. Last week I spoke with noted Israeli-American screenwriter/Israeli IDF veteran Dan Gordon about October 7th, 2023,  his four-part documentary series about the most horrific mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust. Our conversation continues as part two is set to air tonight at 8:00 PM ET on TBN.

JWK: As you noted in the first part of the series, Israelis have grown so accustomed to being under attack that they have apps on their phones to warn about incoming missiles. They check for missiles the way that we check the weather. 

Dan Gordon: The numbers are staggering. Between 2007 – when Hamas took over – and October 7th, Hamas fired over 40,000 rockets at Israel. Can anyone tell me that the United States would tolerate 40,000 rockets? Imagine a scenario in which Northern Mexico was taken over by narco-terrorist drug cartels. The Mexican government can no longer operate there and now there’s a de facto narco-terrorist state in Northern Mexico which is firing 40,000 rockets into California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Is there anyone who wants to tell me that the United States wouldn’t react with overwhelming force just to stop those rocket attacks – let alone a massacre of its citizens? Can you imagine if narco-terrorists invaded San Diego? I won’t say adjusted for population. Stick with just the raw numbers. If narco-terrorists invaded San Diego and killed 1200 men, women and children and kidnapped 260 people and brought them back across the border into their narco-terrorist state, what do you think the United States would do?

JWK: I would think the government would respond accordingly – but, then again, I wouldn’t expect our government to allow so many unvetted immigrants to cross the border. I do get your point though.

DG: No country would tolerate this.

JWK: No country. You’re definitely right. So, this documentary series is being played out over four weeks. As this story goes on and there are developments like the recent hostage rescues will you, perhaps, be adding episodes after these four?

DG: No. I think the show is locked right now. I think actually we’ve anticipated most of what has happened thus far in the last seven or eight months.

JWK: What do you hope people take from the programs?

DG: The four episodes are kind of the four hs. The first episode (which aired last week) is called The Horror. It really recounts what actually happened that day because there has been as much denial about it as there has been about the Holocaust. There was a narrative that, at first, said that it didn’t happen. Then it was exaggerated. Then it was “Well, if it did happen, the Jews had it coming – but it really didn’t happen.”

So, that first episode documents the horrors of what happened that day – but it doesn’t just stay with the horrors. It then recounts the acts of heroism on that day because the army and the intelligence services completely failed. So, you had ordinary Israeli civilians, individual soldiers, police, paramedics and even grandparents who defended themselves, defended their families, their neighborhoods, their communities and total strangers. They bought with their gallantry enough time for the Israeli Army to regroup. They literally saved not just their families. They saved the State of Israel. So, in the first hour, we recount both the horror and the heroism.

The second hour is devoted entirely to The Heroism. We particularly chose stories not just of guys who could out Rambo Rambo. There was the one story of one police officer who was in a SWAT team whose wife had been wounded at the Supernova Festival. He was, come hell or high water, going to rescue her. What he did made Rambo look like kindergarten – but it’s not just the Rambos. We have stories of three middle-aged, balding, out-of-shape paramedics who saved hundreds of people that day, of a father who went in and rescued his daughter in an incredible saga, of an Israeli 65-year-old grandmother who outfoxed the terrorists who were holding her – and literally holding a grenade to her head. She defeated them with tea, cookies and motherly advice. The stories of the heroism are so inspiring and so engrossing.

Then that leads into Episode 3 which talks about exactly what’s been going on on college campuses and this narrative. It’s called Hysteria, Hatred, and History. It really sets the record straight in terms of the false narrative that’s been propagated and explores what that hatred and hysteria is – because it’s not just directed against Israel and the Jews. It’s directed against the United States. The same people who are out there demonstrating against Israel view the United States, and I will quote them, as “the greatest predator empire in the history of the world which must be dismantled and decolonized for the sake of all human life on the planet.” That’s what a University of Minnesota tenured professor said.

Episode 4 is called The Hope. It’s divided into two sections. One is the story of this extraordinary young man named Aner Shapiro who was in one of the shelters packed with thirty or some odd kids who were hiding from Hamas. He was an off-duty soldier. The Hamas terrorists surrounded the shelter. He took a broken beer bottle and stood at the entryway – and they were afraid of him. They tossed in eight grenades. He caught (them) and threw them back that them! On the eighth grenade, his luck ran out. That’s when he was killed – but he succeeded in saving the lives of some of those who were in that shelter.

So, part of the idea of The Hope is of that wonderful generation of kids…Then we go into what is the hope for the day after in Gaza? There is hope. There will be a tiny window of opportunity there. It will require people to abandon what has failed so terribly in past – which is the idea of a two-state solution.

There is a notion of an eight-state solution…We have a wonderful Middle East scholar (named) Dr. Mordechai Kedar in that episode who explains that there are two kinds of states in the Middle East – failing states and successful ones. The failing states are like Lebanon, Syria (and) Libya – places where you have disparate people who have a European ideology imposed on top of them, whether it be socialism, communism, liberalism or whatever they’ve imported…Those states have competing factions which fight one against the other. The successful states are Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (and) Dubai which are flourishing states. The reason he says that those are flourishing is each of those states basically is one clan. The reason Saudi Arabia is called Saudi Arabia is everyone there is from Al Saud clan…Each one of these places is homogeneous. It’s based around clan structures which are, basically, extended families. They’re a tribe.

He says those same clans exist in Palestinian society, in Gaza. Instead of trying to impose the Palestine Authority – which is corrupt as the day is long, ineffectual as the day is long or accepts Hamas, which is a terrorist organization which will only bring more grief for everyone, he said why not take the existing social structure of the clans and create the United Emirates of Gaza? Let the clans which have an interest in the success of their own families be responsible for governing themselves just like in the United Arab Emirates. No different. I think that plan offers the most hope in that area. 

We also talk about the need to reform the education system. To give you an example, all those terrorists that you saw on October 7th, the vast majority of them, were educated in UN schools…In the UN-run schools they teach a curriculum which advocates jihad, murder of the Jews (and) annihilation of the State of Israel in order to create one Palestinian state which will then be the basis of a caliphate. This education system is paid for by the United States of America! It’s the largest donor nation! American taxpayers are paying to educate generation after generation of Palestinian kids to (believe in) martyrdom and jihad which destabilizes the Middle East, causes oil prices to go up, increases inflation in the United States and lowers the standard of living of Americans – and we’re paying for it!

JWK: If all that’s true, it sounds like there needs to be reform at the UN.

DG: Hamas has co-opted the (United Nations Relief and Works Agency/UNRWA). People don’t realize the insanity of it.

There are two categories of refugees according to the UN and the world. First there are all the refugees in the entire world who are under the aegis of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Then there are the Palestinians who are under the aegis of the UNRWA. For those refugees under the aegis of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees status, the goal is to rehabilitate those refugees by settling them in countries where they are surrounded by people who speak the same language, practice the same religion or of the same ethnic group in which they can flourish. If not, then place them in the best places possible.

The UNRWA  seeks to do the exact opposite. It doesn’t want to resettle any refugees. It wants them forever to be homeless refugees, forever dependent on the United Nations, never to be self-sufficient and supports a system literally of apartheid against those refugees in Lebanon (and) in Syria. Do you know in Lebanon no Palestinian can become a lawyer or a doctor? They’re barred from all the professions. That’s in Lebanon – not in Israel! There is no such law in Israel. The same thing in Syria. That’s a system that the UN perpetuates. So, UNRWA has to be gotten out of Gaza entirely. An entirely different mechanism has to be found to rehabilitate that place after the war is over. Once Hamas is defeated that place place can become Paradise – not for Israel but for the Palestinians!

John W. Kennedy is a writer, producer and media development consultant specializing in television and movie projects that uphold positive timeless values, including trust in God.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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