Ingratiating Behavior by the West as a Sign of Its Defeat

The agreement with Iran is not just a victory for Islam but also evidence that the West’s power to fight for its cultural and ethical principles has waned.

Benny Ziffer
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U.S. President Barack Obama exchanging gifts with Pope Francis at the Vatican, March 27, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Benny Ziffer

The two symbolic rulers of the Western world, U.S. President Barack Obama, along with Pope Francis, proved themselves last week as public relations champions, that is to say that they are experts in covering up the painful truth through smooth comments designed to sell themselves to the public.

The painful truth can be summed up in two words: Islamic victory.

More specifically, the nuclear agreement signed with Iran shows that the power of the West to fight for its basic cultural and ethical principles has waned and for the first time in more than 1,500 years, the battle has been decided. The West’s desire to appear nice, free of racism and politically correct has trumped every other principle.

On the day after, the wide media coverage included these tidbits: Iranian President Hassan Rohani and the Revolutionary Guards argue over the booty; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presents the atom and its failure; Netanyahu deserves credit, too; AIPAC joins the lost cause; U.S. says Israel has had an influence over large portions of the agreement; after IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot finishes up with Iran, he’s planning targeted operations.

And without any purported connection to the historic agreement reached last week between Iran and the West, it was also a week of accomplishments in the field of being nice for the relatively newly minted pope. That same new concept of niceness as a supreme value has also captured the hearts of a portion of the nave people in Israel, those same secular and left-wing optimists who usually don’t have much sympathy for religion and rabbis, even when they are fun and smiling. But in their joy, they are prepared to fall into the same trap when the smiling, fun figure is Pope Francis. And what’s nicer than the fact that at an improvised news conference about a year ago, he declared he had no problem with homosexual priests, because God created them, and who was he to object?

This modest “who am I?” statement reveals the entire PR approach. It’s clear, after all, that the pope is not just any individual. He’s the pope. In other words, in principle, he can make religious legal rulings and, by virtue of his authority, declare in no uncertain terms that the Catholic Church is lifting its opposition to homosexual relations. But that’s not was the pope did. After all, the whole thing about religion, certainly Catholicism, involves overcoming one’s impulses, meaning human nature. As pope, he indeed has to oppose his priests defining themselves by their sexuality, whatever it may be. And in fact, because it’s practically impossible to change something in Catholicism without doing it via the conservative church institutions and via the red-frocked, stern-faced College of Cardinals, it turned out that this purported tolerance to homosexuals is totally without foundation. Not much time passed and that same pope refused to accept the credentials of the French ambassador to the Vatican because he is gay.

In the meantime, people are also enamored of Pope Francis because he is perceived as a socialist pope who preaches against globalization. That too is thought of as nice, but it is also almost insignificant. Worse than that, it’s disturbing, because the church’s biggest problem, and let’s admit it, is not globalization or homosexuality but rather the spread and strengthening of Islam at the expense of the Christian world. The pope speaks less about that though. It doesn’t sound nice. As we found out during the term of his German predecessor, Benedict XVI, who was clearly not nice, it was enough for him to raise his voice once in criticism of Islam for it to unleash fire and brimstone and for him to be labeled a racist.

Christian Latin America is not in danger. Christianity is threatened in Europe and through all parts of the Middle East where radical Islam has taken control. On that score, however, the pope as head of the Vatican City State is being very much unfair. Here’s a small but representative example: During his visit to Israel about a year ago, he decided to make a major issue over the upper chamber of David’s tomb on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, which Christian tradition considers the site of the Last Supper. The pope demanded the church be restored the right to open it as a place of worship for Christian pilgrims.

The fact that this aroused the ire of extremist Jews was not a consideration as far as he was concerned. I have no doubt he would have been less insistent on the right to worship at locations where mosques have been built at Christian holy sites or where Islam has simply destroyed the Christian sites.

There’s a long list of such places that it would have been proper to sound the alarm over before that upper room on Mount Zion, but it’s much easier to be a hero in the face of the weak, meaning Judaism. And the nice reception (too nice) that he prepared not long ago for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in which the pope expressed the wish that Abbas would be the angel of peace, was a step in the same direction that can best be described as ingratiating. That means being nice to someone only to cover over the problems – as if the pope doesn’t know about the total insecurity in which the remaining Christians live in the Palestinian areas.

It’s true that in Israeli territory there have also been ugly acts of vandalism at Christian sites. Last week the Israel Police arrested three suspects in connection with the recent arson and vandalism at the traditional Christian site on the Sea of Galilee of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The question is whether the increase in the number of vandalism incidents involving fanatic Jews against Christian sites doesn’t stem from some deeper reason. If you ask me, the only reason is that sense that the more violent Islam gets, the nicer the Christian West, which is hamstrung by political correctness, gets, and to be nicer still, it would be prepared to throw Israel and the Jews to this ravenous creature in hopes of satisfying its hunger.