The following was my response to the immediate preceding post, about the Palestinian Authority. The North American promoters held a telephone conference and shortly thereafter I published the following response in an effort to avoid being partisan between the people of Israel and Palestine. The point is made here:
22 June 2010
Memorial of St. Thomas More
Thank you, Sr. Farnan, for the opportunity to participate in the telephone conference on June 16th on behalf of many of the lay people in the Western Dominican Province. It is important that we engage issues as men and women of good will in the hope of improving our dialog. Due to the fact that there may be a lack of clarity on my part on that date, it is proper to carefully articulate my position on the Israel-Palestine matter. It is helpful to those interested in that perspective and in an effort to further any reasonable debate. I am hopeful this will help us foster community by welcoming the diversity of viewpoints held by the promoters.
Both sides of this conflict can legitimately claim atrocities, terrorist acts, breaches of law, etc., inflicted upon them by the other party. Any such claim depends upon the precise time over the last 60+ years that is being studied and focused on. Nevertheless, the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership’s refusal (and in turn the leadership’s propaganda) to accept Israel as a nation leads to violence, not peace. Further, Israel must live up to its promise as a modern constitutional republic to uphold and bear the responsibility under law for the right to life, liberty, and property of its citizens and neighbors. Both parties to this conflict need to face problems constructively and with eager hearts. Neither party is innocent. The leadership of both Israel and Palestine—as well as other nations that surround that area—must uphold and recognize the dignity of each person that arises from nature and ultimately from God. Violent action and like reaction over time has spilled too much blood! This is not a test of balance to determine which party or nation has committed the greatest number or kind of atrocities, as in missile lobbing, terrorist attacks, bus bombs, violence, helicopter attacks, raids, and the like; but this effort must be based on what can be done to establish peace and justice in truth.
It starts with all parties and states to recognize the dignity of each human person and to establish respective governments that recognize and uphold human rights insofar as possible in this world. The continued history of endless war and reprisal is intolerable. The governments and leadership of these peoples should not carry on the most recent ethnic or political propaganda, but must “guarantee the right of each person to a human and civic culture ‘in harmony with the dignity of the human person, without distinction of race, sex, nation, religion, or social circumstances.’” [Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, ¶ 557]. Toward that end, if peace is to thrive, any government must embrace right reason and good order.
In other words, as promoters of peace and justice, it is my hope we can carry the Gospel to all sides—not pick sides. It is enough that we preach in whatever way possible, in whatever forum possible, by speaking to all concerned, with Gospel conviction yet in charity, that there are certain principles at law and at reason that will lead to peace, grounded on justice and firmly in truth.
If the promoters pick one side or the other—depending upon the issue of the day—then we become unwitting activists providing cover for propaganda. In effect, the promoters become little more than a political party. Of course, that is not what the promoters are about!
Whenever the promoters speak with universal truth, it will touch the hearts and minds of people of good will on all sides; and the promoters should not trumpet any position but the truth. Why should this be done? Ideas matter, especially ideas that are grounded on truth. Ideas can change the world. After all, we need to look no further than our Master because His ideas, dedicated in love, changed the world.
As far as the respective governments of Israel or Palestine are concerned, the rule of law must be respected, a rule of law that recognizes and upholds every person regardless of status, that respects international borders, and that maintains right order among nations. Such governance must recognize the rights of life, of liberty, and of property; protected and reinforced by a vigorous and free judiciary founded on a constitutional system. Necessarily connected to such governance, is a free people, who are politically and economically free to pursue their own lives and cultures, and to reap the benefits of personal hard work and industry. This expression of confidence in the Israeli and Palestinian people testifies to the universal truth that each man and woman is free; and should not be the subject to the whims of governmental and group ideas and forces; but on the universal truth that every person is created equal in dignity by God in nature. These ideas will impress the minds and hearts of a free people of good will.
It is these principles that we as promoters can demand: (1) that Israel not treat the Palestinians as objects of war, of violence, and as pawns, and (2) that the Palestinian leadership abandon its claim that Israel does not have the right to exist and the violence that accompanies that claim. Once these peoples grasp the idea that the equality of each person is based on a law that is above every human law; then their leaders will end this long and tedious levy of war and cultural strife.
It is toward this end that I write and petition that we not take the path of partisanship that abets the status quo of strife and the partisan organizations and committees with their hollow slogans and catchphrases; but that we demand of all parties that they act with right reason, good order, and prudence, with the object of peace.
In St. Dominic,
John Keenan, OPL, Lay Promoter of Peace, Justice & Care of Creation, Western Dominican Province