By Rabbi Shawn D. Zell
Because I am neither a Catholic nor the son of a Catholic, I have no compunction whatsoever in second-guessing the recent announcement that the Vatican is granting recognition to the state of Palestine.
At the risk of sounding like the fictional Hyman Roth of Godfather II, I truly believe that when pressed for an explanation, the Pontiff, with a modicum of remonstration in his voice, would say: It had nothing to do with Israel.
As a rabbi, I believe him. I also can’t help but believe there’s a strong possibility that any or all of the following three theories might help shed light on a move that is disconcerting, to say the least, to many Jews and others:
Pope Francis is pulling the same shtick as Pope Pius XII. It’s the smart move. With the rise and spread of Islamofascism in the world and the inability of the West to contain it, much less eradicate it, Pope Francis is buying an insurance policy. Should the time come when the Muslim extremists vanquish Europe, His Holiness is hoping they will adopt pretty much the same hands-off attitude toward the Vatican as did the Nazis during World War II, and leave it intact.
The Pope is expressing teshuvah. With the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate on Oct. 28, when after close to 2,000 years the Catholic Church chose to bury the hatchet and absolve us Jews for killing their lord, the Pope feels it’s no longer necessary to wait another 2,000 years for a mea culpa of an entirely different nature.
The Pope is doing teshuvah for the Crusades, and all the innocent Muslim blood that Christians shed as they wrested the Holy Land from the infidels. What better way of saying “I’m sorry for soaking the soil of Israel with Muslim blood” than granting recognition to the state of Palestine? Only thing is, the Pope has yet to do teshuvah for the Crusades. And all the innocent Jewish blood that Christians shed as they traversed Europe on their way to wrest the Holy Land from the infidels.
The Pope is expressing Christian love and forgiveness. By recognizing the state of Palestine, he is sending the following message: We peace-loving Christians forgive you Muslim murderers for eradicating and cleansing any number of Israeli and Lebanese villages inhabited by Christian Arabs, thereby causing mayhem and carnage, only to turn those very same villages into terrorist strongholds where further acts of mayhem and carnage can be carried out with abandon and impunity. In true apostolic tradition, it’s as though the Pontiff is pontificating the following: Verily, it has been said, Do not bite the hand that feeds you. I, however, say unto you, feed the hand that bites you.
A big yasher koach to you, Khaled (Mashal), and to you, Mahmoud (Abbas), along with the rest of your subhuman thugs and murderers. You are that much closer to fooling all of the people all of the time. You’ve even succeeded in duping a well-meaning Pope.
Rabbi Shawn Zell is the spiritual leader of Congregation Tiferet Israel in Dallas.