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September 29, 2009

CAMERA's Preliminary Response to Editorial in Jesuit Magazine

The editors of America, a Catholic newsweekly owned by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) recently published an editorial that invokes the Goldstone Report and the Mishneh Torah. This editorial, which amounts to an indictment of Israel, typifies the magazine's troubling double-standard when covering the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the pages of America, violence against Israel is unremarkable, while Israeli efforts to bring this violence to an end are subjected to intense, and unfair scrutiny. Documentation of this tendency can be found here.

CAMERA has submitted a brief, preliminary response to the magazine, but it is unclear whether it will be published on the magazine's website. The text of this preliminary response is displayed below:

America has seen fit to invoke both the Goldstone Report and the Mishneh in its indictment of Israel’s behavior during the recent fighting.

This is pretty disconcerting given the magazine’s tendency to invoke the language of the Just War doctrine in a discriminatory manner when it covered the fighting between Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah in 2006. During this fighting, the publication’s writers and editors exhibited a troubling double standard in which violence against Israel was unremarkable and Israel’s response to this violence was subjected to intense scrutiny.

The problems with the Goldstone Report are numerous and have been recounted elsewhere.

The document portrays Palestinians who are members of terror organizations and who have gone through Hamas infantry training as illegitimate targets of attack.

The document relies on witnesses who have told numerous different stories about alleged Israeli atrocities.

The document falsely suggests that Hamas has “implicitly? accepted Israel’s right to exist by virtue of having signed the “Prisoner’s Document? in 2006. In fact, Hamas leaders have continued to call for Israel’s destruction.

The commission itself included one member who judged Israel guilty of war crimes even before the fighting came to an end.

America’s reliance on such a document is troubling, but to be predicted.

What is innovative in the magazine’s editorial is the use of the Mishneh [Torah] in its indictment of Israel. In particular, it invokes a passage stating that rulers must not blockade a city on all four sides, but should instead keep one side open to allow the inhabitants to flee for their lives.

Egypt controls the Rafah crossing and kept it closed during the recent fighting. There is nothing (aside from its own fear of Hamas) preventing Egypt from opening up this crossing to allow refugees into its country.

Israel warned the inhabitants of Gaza of impending attacks by dropping leaflets, sending text messages to cell phones and by making phone calls to peoples’ homes. Hamas, on the other hand, attacked civilians while hiding among civilians and civilian institutions.

At what point will the editors search the Koran and the Hadith for words of mercy, tolerance and responsibility and use these passages to assess the behavior of Hamas? Clearly, Hamas is worthy of some form or admonition and correction.

Hamas shoots its opponents in the streets, and throws its adversaries off rooftops. It has hijacked UN trucks carrying international aid and diverts the goods to its supporters. It steals food and fuel and denies Palestinian hospitals of the equipment and supplies they need to operate. It stages blackouts in an effort to portray Israel as a heartless and cruel oppressor.

In short, Hamas is a mass movement that rules the Gaza Strip by force, murders its opponents and uses the civilian population as a pawn in its effort to demonize Israel and render Israeli civilians as legitimate targets of violence. Hamas’ primary supporter is Iran, a country whose leaders have repeatedly expressed a desire to perpetrate mass murder of Jews in the Middle East and also oppresses its own citizens.

And yet, the editors at America magazine want Israel to be brought before the International Criminal Court.


Dexter Van Zile
Christian Media Analyst
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

Update 1:42 p.m. Sept. 29, 2009: The original version of this piece erroneously referred to the Mishneh, not the Mishneh Torah. The emendation was inserted with brackets. Thanks to a careful and knowledgeable reader.

Posted by dvz at September 29, 2009 10:14 AM


The Jesuits in America have a long history of messing around with liberation theology. I still come across it all the time these days.

It's very ugly. Pick a side, proclaim them victims, and then twist scripture and theology to justify their unjustifiable position.

There are several special collections I've stopped donating to, specifically over issues like this.

Posted by: EdSki at September 29, 2009 12:41 PM

The Goldstone Reort included numerous cases documented directly from those affected. It had nothing to do with examining the legitimacy or otherwise of Hamas. Neither did it have anything to do with Iran. Goldstone is an experienced judge and legalist. He would be well aware of seeking independant verification of anything told to him so I can't see any problem with the accuracy of the report.

Lets face it the report is a damning indictment of Israel in particular elements within the IDF. The criticsm of the report is unfounded and very weak and quite frankly pathetic. Goldstone is a Jew himself and well aware that the current state of affairs in Israel is unsustainable.

The rule of international law has to be applied. No one is above the law, there are no exceptions. Israel has to examine itself, prosecute those responsible and come up with several billion dollars compensation. A media blitz and propaganda campaign will not work rhis time.

Posted by: Keltrava at October 4, 2009 07:29 AM

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