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June 07, 2009

EWTN’s Skewed Commentary on the Pope’s Holy Land Trip

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On the Eternal Word Television Network May 15 broadcast of The World Over , hosted by Raymond Arroyo, Br. Aloysius Florio (of Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Wash., D.C.) provided unbalanced, inaccurate commentary pertaining to Israel during a review of the Pope’s May 8-15 Holy Land trip. EWTN is the pre-eminent Roman Catholic TV network but it doesn’t speak for the hierarchy of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church since it is not under the authority of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Pope had held an inter-religious dialogue meeting in Jerusalem on May 11 that was seriously marred by an anti-Israel outburst by Sheik Tamimi, Chief Islamic Judge of the Palestinian Authority, who falsely accused Israel of several crimes against the Palestinians. Br. Florio, commenting on Tamimi’s diatribe, credulously accepted what Tamimi claimed "Israelis are doing to Palestinians":

He criticized, of course, very strongly, in strong language, not diplomatically, what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians – depriving them of their rights, tortured, imprisoned, etcetera, etcetera.

Viewers would have been better served if counter commentary had been provided to balance Br. Florio’s claim. Likewise, viewers should have been informed of the disapproving reaction to Tamimi's statements by Catholic and Jewish religious leaders. According to a May12 Jerusalem Post article, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, condemned Tamimi’s diatribe as "a direct negation of what dialogue should be" and the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, the only Jewish representative on the stage with the pope, condemned Tamimi for "cynically exploiting the media opportunity to incite and disparage the State of Israel." Rabbi Cohen, who is also the cochairman of a joint Chief Rabbinate-Holy See interreligious committee, said he would refuse to meet with Tamimi again.

Later in the May 15 broadcast of World Over, Br. Florio commented on the May 13 West Bank visit in which the Pope expressed sorrow for the need for the security barrier. Br. Florio said:

This wall is a source of great suffering for the Palestinian people because it deprives them from crossing over into Israel where many of them found work. Consequently now, they are suffering the affects of that. There’s a lot of problems with people – even our own Christian people - the every day need for food and so forth.

Unfortunately, Br. Florio and Mr. Arroyo failed to inform viewers that the security barrier has minimized the number of Palestinian terrorist incursions into Israel, thus saving many Israeli lives and, as well, reducing Palestinian casualties which would have resulted from Israeli incursions responding to the attacks.

Furthermore, while Br. Florio described hardships endured by Palestinian Christians, he neglected to inform viewers that while Christians are emigrating from Muslim-dominated countries (including Palestinian areas) surrounding Israel - largely as a result of systematic Muslim persecution - this is not the case in Israel itself, where the Christian population has thrived and steadily increased.

Posted by MK at June 7, 2009 12:16 PM

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