[14. Evenhandedness of Catholic bishops on Mideast


In the article entitled "Intifada Casualty" written by Tracy Early in Catholic New York (January 25, 1990), it was reported that Uri Gordon, Israel director of external church affairs, had "thought that the [1989] statement [by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (USA)] was uncritically supportive of the PLO stances". In fact, the other party to the Middle East conflict might as well have argued that the statement was uncritically supportive of Israel stance.

But the reader of the statement whose main concern is a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East cannot escape the feeling of evenhandedness that prevails throughout the text. Evenhandedness, however, is an anathema to Israeli "hawks" and Israel's supporters like AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). One case in point is AIPAC's similar reaction to Secretary of State James Baker's speech to the AIPAC convention (May 22, 1989). Evenhandedness is just not good enough for them.

How else but as evenhanded can any fair-minded person interpret the followings from the bishops' statement: "The nature of mutual security requires a willingness by all parties to accept limits on the definition and exercise of their rights. Limits on Israel's definition of its security claims and on Palestinian pursuit of their territorial claims are complementary".

It is worth noting, finally, that the US bishops' approach is "rooted in a moral assessment of the problem", not in blind alignment with whatever argument either side might have. By the way, the above article reported that "church leaders in the Middle East were generally pleased" with the US bishop's statement.

February 5, 1990]