For over 20 years now, the freesheet Alive, edited by Fr Brian McKevitt OP, has usually been the liveliest, best-written and most orthodox of all Catholic newspapers in Ireland. Fr McKevitt’s progressive Dominican confreres don’t like it at all. Month by month, his “Editor’s Jottings”, have been a mine of good sense, exposing the hypocrisy and unprofessionalism of the mainstream media, and the mendacity of politicians of all parties.
Just to take the September 2014 issue. Fr McKevitt excoriates the Irish Times writer Hugh Linehan for the smug declaration :”As a rule, we non-believers prefer to live and let live”, pointing out the irony of such a claim, given the shameless hostility of his newspaper towards the protection of the unborn. Then Fr McKevitt skewers the Catholic pretensions of the Taoiseach Enda Kenny:
He may believe what he wishes, but must not be allowed to twist words to suit his own agenda, whether the words are `I promise`, `protection of life in pregnancy`, or `Catholic`.
Another of his targets is the discrepancy between the anger and indignation over the treatment of unmarried mothers and their babies in the first half of the last century, and the silence of the media over the present-day suffering caused to the child victims of divorce.
Then he points out, outrageously but truly, that the idea of “equality” was originally a Catholic concept: that the Church taught, against Roman custom, that female newborns might not be left to die and that a man could not discard his wife. He believes that the shrinking of equality to mean “sameness” has degraded the dignity of women with, for example, the loss of esteem for motherhood. It’s an odd form of equality, says Fr McKevitt, just to treat women as if they were men.
…But it’s wrong about Israel
As there is so much good stuff in Fr McKevitt’s paper, why do I think he can be appallingly wrong-headed?
It’s his unfair attitude to Israel. He persistently condemns the Jewish state for carrying out bombing strikes against the Moslem terrorists of Hamas who have deliberately embedded themselves among the civilian population of Gaza. As a consequence of these Israeli attacks, many Palestinian civilians have been killed. And that is precisely why Hamas began firing rockets into Israel in the first place: they knew that Israeli retaliation, and the resulting high casualty rate among the Gazans, would provide Hamas with a powerful propaganda weapon on the international stage, particularly when harrowing images were shown on television screens throughout the West.
It is difficult to overestimate the degree of cruelty and cynicism of which Hamas is capable. It has been firing its rockets into Israel from mosques, schools and other public buildings. It has forced civilians to remain in these places, despite very specific advance warnings from the Israeli defence forces that they would shortly be targeted. It has spent funds intended for the relief of hardship in the overcrowded Gaza strip, on reinforced concrete bunkers and tunnels from which to attack Israeli villages.
Now, it is quite legitimate to argue that the Israelis have no business expanding their settlements in what has been designated as “Palestine”. It is even arguable that the state of Israel should never have existed in the first place; during the first world war incompatible promises were made to both Jews and Arabs by the Anglo-French alliance anxious to secure support against the Turkish Ottoman empire. But once a state is in being, and recognised internationally, then it surely has a right to defend its citizens against attack. And if it is argued that the Israeli response has been “disproportionate”, it is surely fair to ask Fr McKevitt what alternative course of action Israel could have taken.
Three times, Israel has had to defend itself against attack from its Moslem neighbours, who are still determined on destroying it. To survive, it needs defensible borders. It has only to lose once, and the Jewish state will cease to exist. There seems to be a lack of appreciation in the West that for decades, Israel has been in the front line of the struggle against militant Islam, whose aim is to conquer not only Israel but the whole world. That is why the United States and its allies are right to continue their support of Israel.