Skip to comments.U.S. cardinal describes 'lesson in frustration' in Lebanon visit
Posted on 08/15/2006 12:03:13 PM PDT by NYer
ROME (CNS) -- Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, arrived in Lebanon in early August, visiting Catholic aid projects, church and government leaders and getting what he described as "a lesson in frustration."
His Aug. 10 meeting with two Muslim leaders in Beirut was canceled after Israeli planes dropped leaflets on the city warning of new bombardments.
"It scares the heck out of people," he said of the leaflet drops. "And if they don't leave, they can be killed. But it's awful; they get word to leave their homes because they are going to bomb in the next hours."
In an Aug. 10 telephone interview from Beirut, the cardinal said his visit was meant to be a sign of solidarity with the suffering people of Lebanon, the same kind of visit he has made in the past to Israel in the wake of terrorist attacks.
"I have concerns for the poor people of Lebanon. I'm not making any judgments on what political things are happening, but I know that even now there are people in some villages that are totally blocked off by the war and they have no bread, they have no water and they have no medicine. And that has been going on for almost two weeks," the cardinal told Catholic News Service.
"If that continues, it will be a disaster. We will be starving people," he said.
"I am not a politician, not a statesman and not a general. I can't blame anybody, but I want to say, 'Here is what I find,' and the world must do something," he said.
Cardinal McCarrick arrived in Beirut from Amman, Jordan, Aug. 9 aboard a Jordanian transport plane carrying humanitarian aid. He expected to leave Lebanon the same way Aug. 13.
The cardinal met Aug. 10 with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and other government officials. He said they were courteous, explained the situation in the country and expressed their hopes for a cease-fire.
"They feel they have done what everybody has asked them to do. They are willing to send 15,000 Lebanese soldiers" into southern Lebanon, where the Hezbollah militia are deployed, firing rockets and mortars into Israel.
"But apparently, that is not enough," he said.
A U.N. resolution on an immediate cease-fire faced delays as Security Council members disagreed over when Israeli troops should be asked to withdraw from southern Lebanon and when an international peacekeeping force should be deployed.
"You come here and get a lesson in frustration," the cardinal said.
Cardinal McCarrick visited several schools Aug. 9, meeting with the displaced people being sheltered in them and with the staff and volunteers of Caritas Lebanon, which is running the shelters and providing food, clothing, blankets and medical assistance.
The Salma Sayyegh public school, which he visited, has been turned into a shelter for 360 Muslims -- mostly women and children -- who have fled the fighting and bombardment of their homes in southern Lebanon.
Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' international relief and development agency, is supporting the work of Caritas Lebanon at Salma Sayyegh and throughout the country.
In addition to financial support, CRS has sent staff members experienced in the logistical side of emergency relief to assist with security, warehousing, medical care and media relations, among other things.
"Everything is difficult to get here because the bridges have been knocked down and many of the roads have been bombed so trucks can't travel, so the whole food distribution system is in peril," Cardinal McCarrick said.
Most people in Lebanon, he said, "are becoming more and more anti-Israeli," including the Christians, who also have been forced to flee. "It's a very desperate situation."
"Lebanon has the largest Christian population in the Middle East and we're losing that," he said. "The people are going to leave because they cannot work. There is no gas for the cars; there isn't food to eat. We don't know how they are going to open the schools.
"It's frustration that one feels here. They say to me, 'Thank you for coming,' but my visit is not much more than saying, 'We love you and we are praying for you and we understand your suffering,'" the cardinal said.
Cardinal McCarrick said he also wanted to let the Lebanese people know "that together with the Holy Father, we Catholics in the United States are calling for an immediate cease-fire and for corridors of safety so humanitarian goods like food and water can be delivered."
Apparently the Catholic church thinks much more of the inherent civility of Israeli's than it does of Arabs. It cetainly expects more of Israeli's than their enemies.
"It scares the heck out of people," he said of the leaflet drops. "And if they don't leave, they can be killed. But it's awful; they get word to leave their homes because they are going to bomb in the next hours.
"As horrible as this is, the people in Israel were not afforded even the letters of warning before missiles fell on them.
I will continue to pray for all innocents.
How did you arrive at this assumption???
The absence of consideration for the suffering of Israel by the Cardinal is discussed extensively in an earlier thread:
The Israeli's are held to civilized standards that Hezbollah and Hamas are not. This inherently means that Hezbollah and Hamas are not expected to be able to behave to the high level expected of Israeli's. The implications are that they are a lesser level of human.
Here are the statistics. This 33 days of war left 1140 dead (427 are under 18), 3630 wounded, 973,000 refugees, 11 billion dollars of damage, 30 vital constructions destroyed (airports, sea ports, power stations, ...), 33 gas stations destroyed, 630 Km of roads damaged, 145 bridges smashed to the ground, 7000 apartments gone, 9000 institutions (factories, shopping malls, shops, farms, etc...) burned down.
You consider this to be the actions of a civilized people?
As for the infrastructure damage, of course the Israeli's are going to try to destroy the supply lines for the delivery of more arms to their enemies. If the people of Lebanon want peace, they can expel Hezbollah and then they will have peace. If Hezbollah remains, Lebanon will never be at peace.
How did you arrive at this assumption???
Not the original poster here but the op has a point -- mention of Israeli casualties are hard to find in the report, and the report's last paragraph merely parrots Hezbollah's military advantageous "immediate ceasefire" demand. Problem is, today, after a so called cease fire is being formalized, more Hezbo rockets were fired toward Israel. The cardinal can speak for the Church (as he does in his comments quoted in the last paragraph -- but leave "U.S. Catholics" like me out of his claim. We will be back in months but "The Party of God" will be firing longer range missiles into Israel. Hopefully the Church will be more even handed in its assessment and response to casualities, north or south of the border.
*Cardinal WHERE were you during the last six years when Iranian-Funded terrorists were digging-in and preparing for this most recent round of terrorism?
Oh yeah, that's right. You were decieving your Brother Bishops about Cardinal Ratzinger's instructions about "Catholic" Pols who vote pro-abort.
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN THE LAST TWENTY YEARS WHILE ALL OVER THE WORLD INNOCENT CHRISTIANS HAVE BEEN RAPED, TORTURED, AND MURDERED BY MUSLIM JIHADISTS? THAT'S RIGHT. YOU WERE HOB-NOBBING WITH PRO-ABORTION POLITICIANS.
OK, I gotta get down to the Antarctic and take a swim. My blood is boiling
How arrogant! The following was written by a Jew, living in Tel Aviv. He has a clear understanding of the damage assessment.
You are terrorists, we are virtuous
This article has just appeared in the London Review of Books. ISraelis should read it well. The rest of us are well aware of Israel's 'national psychosis... deriving from the over-identification with Israeli military thinking.'
So far ceasefire is holding.
You are terrorists, we are virtuous
Yitzhak Laor on the IDF
As soon as the facts of the Bint Jbeil ambush, which ended with relatively high Israeli casualties (eight soldiers died there), became public, the press and television in Israel began marginalising any opinion that was critical of the war. The media also fell back on the kitsch to which Israelis grow accustomed from childhood: the most menacing army in the region is described here as if it is David against an Arab Goliath. Yet the Jewish Goliath has sent Lebanon back 20 years, and Israelis themselves even further: we now appear to be a lynch-mob culture, glued to our televisions, incited by a premier whose leadership is being launched and legitimised with rivers of fire and destruction on both sides of the border. Mass psychology works best when you can pinpoint an institution or a phenomenon with which large numbers of people identify. Israelis identify with the IDF, and even after the deaths of many Lebanese children in Qana, they think that stopping the war without scoring a definitive victory would amount to defeat. This logic reveals our national psychosis, and it derives from our over-identification with Israeli military thinking.
In the melodramatic barrage fired off by the press, the army is assigned the dual role of hero and victim. And the enemy? In Hebrew broadcasts the formulations are always the same: on the one hand we, ours, us; on the other, Nasrallah and Hizbullah. There arent, it seems, any Lebanese in this war. So who is dying under Israeli fire? Hizbullah. And if we ask about the Lebanese? The answer is always that Israel has no quarrel with Lebanon. Its yet another illustration of our unilateralism, the thundering Israeli battle-cry for years: no matter what happens around us, we have the power and therefore we can enforce the logic. If only Israelis could see the damage thats been done by all these years of unilateral thinking. But we cannot, because the army which has always been the core of the state determines the shape of our lives and the nature of our memories, and wars like this one erase everything we thought we knew, creating a new version of history with which we can only concur. If the army wins, its success becomes part of our heritage. Israelis have assimilated the logic and the language of the IDF and in the process, they have lost their memories. Is there a better way to understand why we have never learned from history? We have never been a match for the army, whose memory the official Israeli memory is hammered into place at the centre of our culture by an intelligentsia in the service of the IDF and the state.
The IDF is the most powerful institution in Israeli society, and one which we are discouraged from criticising. Few have studied the dominant role it plays in the Israeli economy. Even while they are still serving, our generals become friendly with the US companies that sell arms to Israel; they then retire, loaded with money, and become corporate executives. The IDF is the biggest customer for everything and anything in Israel. In addition, our high-tech industries are staffed by a mixture of military and ex-military who work closely with the Western military complex. The current war is the first to become a branding opportunity for one of our largest mobile phone companies, which is using it to run a huge promotional campaign. Israels second biggest bank, Bank Leumi, used inserts in the three largest newspapers to distribute bumper stickers saying: Israel is powerful. The military and the universities are intimately linked too, with joint research projects and an array of army scholarships.
There is no institution in Israel that can approach the armys ability to disseminate images and news or to shape a national political class and an academic elite or to produce memory, history, value, wealth, desire. This is the way identification becomes entrenched: not through dictatorship or draconian legislation, but by virtue of the fact that the countrys most powerful institution gets its hands on every citizen at the age of 18. The majority of Israelis identify with the army and the army reciprocates by consolidating our identity, especially when it is or we are waging war.
The IDF didnt play any role in either of the Gulf wars and may not play a part in Bushs pending war in Iran, but it is on permanent alert for the real war that is always just round the corner. Meanwhile, it harasses Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, to very destructive effect. (In July it killed 176 Palestinians, most of them from the same area in Gaza, in a policing operation that included the destruction of houses and infrastructure.) They shoot. They abduct. They use F-16s against refugee camps, tanks against shacks and huts. For years they have operated in this way against gangs and groups of armed youths and children, and they call it a war, a just war, vital for our existence. The power of the army to produce meanings, values, desire is perfectly illustrated by its handling of the Palestinians, but it would not be possible without the support of the left in Israel.
The mainstream left has never seriously tried to oppose the military. The notion that we had no alternative but to attack Lebanon and that we cannot stop until we have finished the job: these are army-sponsored truths, decided by the military and articulated by state intellectuals and commentators. So are most other descriptions of the war, such as the Tel Aviv academic Yossef Gornis statement in Haaretz, that this is our second war of independence. The same sort of nonsense was written by the same kind of people when the 2000 intifada began. That was also a war about our right to exist, our second 1948. These descriptions would not have stood a chance if Zionist left intellectuals solemn purveyors of the morality of war hadnt endorsed them.
Military thinking has become our only thinking. The wish for superiority has become the need to have the upper hand in every aspect of relations with our neighbours. The Arabs must be crippled, socially and economically, and smashed militarily, and of course they must then appear to us in the degraded state to which weve reduced them. Our usual way of looking at them is borrowed from our intelligence corps, who translate them and interpret them, but cannot recognise them as human beings. Israelis long ago ceased to be distressed by images of sobbing women in white scarves, searching for the remains of their homes in the rubble left by our soldiers. We think of them much as we think of chickens or cats. We turn away without much trouble and consider the real issue: the enemy. The Katyusha missiles that have been hitting the north of the country are launched without discrimination, and in this sense Hizbullah is guilty of a war crime, but the recent volleys of Katyushas were a response to the frenzied assault on Lebanon. To the large majority of Israelis, however, all the Katyushas prove is what a good and necessary thing we have done by destroying our neighbours again: the enemy is indeed dangerous, its just as well we went to war. The thinking becomes circular and the prophecies self-fulfilling. Israelis are fond of saying: The Middle East is a jungle, where only might speaks. See Qana, and Gaza, or Beirut.
Defenders of Israel and its leaders can always argue that the US and Britain behave similarly in Iraq. (It is true that Olmert and his colleagues would not have acted so shamelessly if the US had not been behind them. Had Bush told them to hold their fire, they wouldnt have dared to move a single tank.) But there is a major difference. The US and Britain went to war in Iraq without public opinion behind them. Israel went to war in Lebanon, after a border incident which it exploited in order to destroy a country, with the overwhelming support of Israelis, including the members of what the European press calls the peace camp.
Amos Oz, on 20 July, when the destruction of Lebanon was already well underway, wrote in the Evening Standard: This time, Israel is not invading Lebanon. It is defending itself from a daily harassment and bombardment of dozens of our towns and villages by attempting to smash Hizbullah wherever it lurks. Nothing here is distinguishable from Israeli state pronouncements. David Grossman wrote in the Guardian, again on 20 July, as if he were unaware of any bombardment in Lebanon: There is no justification for the large-scale violence that Hizbullah unleashed this week, from Lebanese territory, on dozens of peaceful Israeli villages, towns and cities. No country in the world could remain silent and abandon its citizens when its neighbour strikes without any provocation. We can bomb, but if they respond they are responsible for both their suffering and ours. And its important to remember that our suffering is that of poor people in the north who cannot leave their homes easily or quickly. Our suffering is not that of the decision-makers or their friends in the media. Oz also wrote that there can be no moral equation between Hizbullah and Israel. Hizbullah is targeting Israeli civilians wherever they are, while Israel is targeting mostly Hizbullah. At that time more than 300 Lebanese had been killed and 600 had been injured. Oz went on: The Israeli peace movement should support Israels attempt at self-defence, pure and simple, as long as this operation targets mostly Hizbullah and spares, as much as possible, the lives of Lebanese civilians (this is not always an easy task, as Hizbullah missile-launchers often use Lebanese civilians as human sandbags).
The truth behind this is that Israel must always be allowed to do as it likes even if this involves scorching its supremacy into Arab bodies. This supremacy is beyond discussion and it is simple to the point of madness. We have the right to abduct. You dont. We have the right to arrest. You dont. You are terrorists. We are virtuous. We have sovereignty. You dont. We can ruin you. You cannot ruin us, even when you retaliate, because we are tied to the most powerful nation on earth. We are angels of death.
The Lebanese will not remember everything about this war. How many atrocities can a person keep in mind, how much helplessness can he or she admit, how many massacres can people tell their children about, how many terrorised escapes from burning houses, without becoming a slave to memory? Should a child keep a leaflet written by the IDF in Arabic, in which he is told to leave his home before its bombed? I cannot urge my Lebanese friends to remember the crimes my state and its army have committed in Lebanon.
Israelis, however, have no right to forget. Too many people here supported the war. It wasnt just the nationalist religious settlers. Its always easy to blame the usual suspects for our misdemeanours: the scapegoating of religious fanatics has allowed us to ignore the role of the army and its advocates within the Zionist left. This time we have seen just how strongly the moderates are wedded to immoderation, even though they knew, before it even started, that this would be a war against suburbs and crowded areas of cities, small towns and defenceless villages. The model was our armys recent actions in Gaza: Israeli moderates found these perfectly acceptable.
It was a mistake for those of us who are unhappy with our countrys policies to breathe a sigh of relief after the army withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. We thought that the names of Sabra and Shatila would do all the memorial work that needed to be done and that they would stand, metonymically, for the crimes committed in Lebanon by Israel. But, with the withdrawal from Gaza, many Israelis who should be opposing this war started to think of Ariel Sharon, the genius of Sabra and Shatila, as a champion of peace. The logic of unilateralism of which Sharon was the embodiment had at last prevailed: Israelis are the only people who count in the Middle East; we are the only ones who deserve to live here.
This time we must try harder to remember. We must remember the crimes of Olmert, and of our minister of justice, Haim Ramon, who championed the destruction of Lebanese villages after the ambush at Bint Jbeil, and of the army chief of staff, Dan Halutz. Their names should be submitted to The Hague so they can be held accountable.
Elections are a wholly inadequate form of accountability in Israel: the people we kill and maim and ruin cannot vote here. If we let our memories slacken now, the machine-memory will reassert control and write history for us. It will glide into the vacuum created by our negligence, with the civilised voice of Amos Oz easing its path, and insert its own version. And suddenly we will not be able to explain what we know, even to our own children.
In Israel there is still no proper history of our acts in Lebanon. Israelis in the peace camp used to carry posters with the figure 680 on them the number of Israelis who died during the 1982 invasion. Six hundred and eighty Israeli soldiers. How many members of that once sizeable peace camp protested about the tens of thousands of Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian casualties? Isnt the failure of the peace camp a result of its inability to speak about the cheapness of Arab blood? General Udi Adam, one of the architects of the current war, has told Israelis that we shouldnt count the dead. He meant this very seriously and Israelis should take him seriously. We should make it our business to count the dead in Lebanon and in Israel and, to the best of our abilities, to find out their names, all of them.
Yitzhak Laor lives in Tel Aviv.
The writer of this piece is delusional.
" == The following was written by a Jew, living in Tel Aviv. He has a clear understanding of the damage assessment. == "
The first sentence is evidently supposed to establish a credential for the half-blind evaluation and accompanying tirade; the second is simply a flawed value judgement.
Israel is duty bound to protect its citizens, and to do that it MUST respond forcefully to aggression against it.
Yitzhak Laor is a man with a defective conscience, who knows of the peril and suffering in his homeland but refuses to acknowledge it in a meaningful way, by defending it. He also knows of the Hezbollah tactics, that constitute blatant WAR CRIMES that have invited and encouraged the Israeli response, but he adheres to the enemies of his country - a country that gives him the right to protest in this fashion. His statements, made where he made them, are absent courage, truth, and common sense.
Syria has more Christians than Lebanon.
Most Americans believe that state terrorism is perfectly acceptable, such is their fidelity to Holy Mother State.
I think it is a good article and many of its points are applicable to our own country.
The Antarctic is an appropriate place for you. A land of nothing to accomodate your burgeoning nihilism. We want Catholicguy back.
You consider this to be the actions of a civilized people?
No reasonable person considers Hizbollah to be civilized, nor should we consider apologists for Hizbollah to be civilized. They sow death and oppression wherever they go. By using the weak to shield themselves from justice, Hezbollah has made it impossible to distinguish the evil from the innocent. Hezbollah has chosen to start the war, Hezbollah has chosen to maximize the casualties, Hezbollah has chosen the field of battle, and Hezbollah has chosen to endanger the innocent. Remove Hezbollah and there would be no war, no casualties, no devestated battlefeilds, and no violent deaths.