web analytics
May 6, 2015 / 17 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Papal Visit: Heavy On Hoopla, Short On Substance

Rolling out the Red Carpet for the Pope's visit to Israel.

Rolling out the Red Carpet for the Pope's visit to Israel.
Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

At the end of the day, the pope’s Mideast visit was short on substance and long on theatrics – unless one considers, and with some justification, that theatrics is substance in the thinking of many.

The pope has influence but not power (still lacking the military prowess to enforce his will, to paraphrase Stalin), but even his influence is limited. As his public appearances in Israel were limited to select audiences, and naturally heavily weighted to visiting official or Christian sites, the impact to the average citizen was mainly in the form of snarled traffic and closed roads, all due to the intense security generated by his brief stay.

Of course, the visit – simply by virtue of the fact that it took place – was not innocuous, and these celebrity summits always carry the potential for more mischief for Israel than for any meaningful achievements. And so it was here, aided by an exasperating moral equivalence that is the pope’s (perhaps any pope’s) stock-in-trade.

Anything that presents the Palestinian Authority in the guise of a state, or even as a reasonable interlocutor, hurts Israel. Worse, the pope’s brief stop – for prayer – at the border wall that surrounds Bethlehem played into the Arab narrative as victims of an oppressive Israel.

Certainly, Israel’s countermove by having Pope Francis make a similar stop at the terror victim’s memorial at Mount Herzl Cemetery was a brilliant stroke. But it didn’t quite erase the moral obtuseness implicit in lamenting a barrier that has aided in the prevention of Arab suicide bombings of Jews.

And if the Arabs indeed seek an independent state, do not most states have borders with fences, walls and official crossings? Would the pope also lament the imposition on mankind of searches at airports, all because of the threat of Muslim terror?

There is a certain unwordliness that surrounds the pope’s pronouncements, but each call for a two-state solution is oblivious to the reality on the ground. Neither party wants two states, although Israel in its weakest and foolish moments would settle for two. But no one believes it would last, and so the call for the creation of a Palestinian state remains a codeword for the destruction of Israel, as it always has been.

Indeed, the greatest danger the pope faced during his visit was being inundated by the deluge of clichés and platitudes, much of his own making. The persistent desire to split the difference, to see everything in balance, and especially to never, ever distinguish between aggressors and victims does an injustice to Jews and to history.

It reminds me of an encounter I had many years ago as an attorney, representing a young woman expelled from her Catholic high school because an ex-boyfriend showed up at her school carrying a knife and up to no good. She was expelled because her mere presence brought the boy with the knife into the building, even though she didn’t invite him, didn’t want him there and was likely to be the target of his wrath.

When I said that she was the victim here and did nothing wrong, I was told by the chief nun: “Victim or aggressor, what’s the difference?” To which I responded: “If you do not distinguish between the victim and the aggressor, then that certainly explains a lot about our history.”

(By the way, my entreaties fell on deaf ears.)

The call for peace, an end to war, violence, unfriendliness and the like is always welcome but ultimately meaningless when confronted by an evil enemy that literally sacrifices its own children to murder other children.

About the Author: Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey, and author, most recently, of “Tzadka Mimeni: The Jewish Ethic of Personal Responsibility” (Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2014). His writings and lectures can be found at www.Rabbipruzansky.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “The Papal Visit: Heavy On Hoopla, Short On Substance”

  1. Kathy Boling says:

    He needs to keep his crap out of Israel

  2. obliviousness – great word, one that politicians are subject to all the time.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Hillary Clinton and PA acting president Mahmoud Abbas. Nov. 21, 2012
Clinton Said She Will Speak on Benghazi but Only Once
Latest Indepth Stories
Lewis-050115-Police-Training-at-Aleh

Although it’s emotionally difficult to see the suffering, helping out makes me happy.

I decided to really understand what Jewish people go through by becoming a Jew.

March for Armenian Genocide

Why does Obama and other democratic world leaders resist branding the Armenian killings as genocide?

Rioters smash window of police car in Baltimore.

I stated with clarity in simple terms, “Jews don’t have gangs.”

FBI’s undercover agents contacted ORA (Org. for the Resolution of Agunot) pretending to be an agunah

Israel promotes coexistence and peace, providing freedom for all religions on the Temple Mount.

The Jewish vote won’t impact polls as much as it will the coffers of candidates and their Super PACs

Iran stands unopposed by the “international community” and is racing to assert regional dominance.

If some Israeli cops got a Jewish education & learned to love Jews, Israel would be a better place

No where in the world is there the level of intervention by foreign countries as exists in Israel.

The Ravens’ Ray Lewis screamed that violence is never the answer.” Unfortunately, he is wrong.

Obama is the latest incarnation of our ancient enemies who arise every generation with a new face

Why do Jews, then, sometimes feel more intensely about Polish anti-Semitism than they do about German anti-Semitism?

The president is unwilling to cede any of what he considers his exclusive powers in the area of foreign policy and has struggled mightily to keep the Senate away from any role in the kind of deal to be negotiated.

More Articles from Rabbi Steven Pruzansky
Pruzansky-Steven-NEW

Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

The brilliance of Yaakov’s approach – and by extension, any type of individual or group effort – is that it appealed to three different modes of salvation.

There is a certain unwordliness to the pope’s call for a two-state solution, an obliviousness to the reality on the ground.

One can’t only take; one must give as well. Giving – not taking – is the essence of the righteous person.

Much of what we know about 19th century Orthodoxy is false, including the provenance of the term Orthodox.

A president who today used the language of FDR or JFK would be derided. If he were a candidate, the media elites would bury his chances of winning the election. He would be a laughing stock to the aimless young people whose uninformed opinions on public affairs seem to matter more than they should.

With the constant drumbeat of articles about “Orthodox” female rabbis appearing in the media almost weekly – essentially the same articles making the same points to the same eager audience, all to make the phenomenon of such “rabbis” seem commonplace – it is important to take a step back and examine how we arrived at this destination.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-papal-visit-heavy-on-hoopla-short-on-substance/2014/06/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: