It is an amazing thing to say that you see God in the lives and faces of your children. I truly see God in my children – as they raise their babies in our beloved homeland in pride and strength, in faith and in hope. I see it in my daughters who help others and rush in when they are needed, supporting their neighbors and friends and family in so many ways. I see it in my sons who have, with their lives, stood strong on Israel’s borders to defend this land that God gave to the Jewish people. I see it in how they serve on ambulances and security forces, and how, like their sisters, they help others.
The Pope, charged with the spiritual well-being of the Catholics of the world, made a strange, bizarre, and shockingly absurd comment on Christmas day. He chose to speak of children and this I understand. Jews know that the children are our future, we defend them with our lives, with all that we have. Unlike the Pope, who has never had children, we believe in the first commandment given to man, to be fruitful and serve the future by creating cherished lives that will honor God’s gift of life.
Beyond merely giving birth here in Israel, we do all we can to ensure the safety and well-being of all children. Last week it was reported that a newborn baby, child of Syrian refugees, was flown to Israel for a life-saving heart operation. We treat thousands of Palestinian children every day in our hospitals and health clinics, build schools for our children…and theirs. Here in Israel, no school is built today without extensive “safe” areas to protect them from incoming missile attacks; few (if any) neighborhoods are built today without open space for children to play. There are children suffering all over the world. This is very true and one wonders why the Pope spends so little time on this subject all the other days of the year. From his castle in Rome, he preaches but does little, orders his followers to do even less. “We see Jesus in the many children forced to leave their countries to travel alone in inhuman conditions and who become an easy target for human traffickers.” Well, that does cover some of the suffering children, though clearly not the majority who suffer in their own homes from starvation, disease, unimaginable poverty.
It seems an intelligent and important man like the Pope should consider and weigh not only the words he says, but the order in which he says them. This he did not. First he spoke of the human traffickers. A problem, without question, but nothing compared to the real suffering that is faced by millions of children every day. It is estimated that 20,000 children per year are involved in human trafficking. Compare this to approximately 16.9 million children living in poverty in the US alone. Globally, an estimated 161 million children below five-years-old are malnourished.
The fact that these statistics slipped past the Pope might not have bothered me nearly so much if I had not heard the outrageous and slanted reference to the children of the Middle East that next came out of his mouth. Once again, the Pope allowed politics and his own questionable track record on Israel to blur his message further. Because after the human traffickers, he went right into the Israelis and the Palestinians, attemping to force HIS values on us.
“We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of the growing tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians” said the Pope. While I can’t testify to how much Jesus is in the Muslim children of the Middle East, I can assure the Holy See that there is no Jesus in my children or in any of the children of my neighbors. Further, by “balancing” the children of Palestinians with children of Israelis, the Pope creates a great imbalance…and a great injustice. Palestinians have repeatedly targeted Israeli children and families, murdering infants in their homes, their carriages, in their father’s arms. They have rammed our children, stabbed them, shot them, and exploded bombs near them. We do not send our 11 year olds to checkpoints to try to explode a bomb in their backpack with the intent of harming their soldiers; we do not arm our children or send them in to the streets to throw stones.
As for the growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, actually there too the Pope is wrong. There are tensions. There have been tensions. There will be tensions. With the building of the security fence, the safety of our children has increased by approximately 90%.
Is Jesus really in the children of Palestinians and Israelis? Who is the Pope to suggest such nonsense? Does he see Jesus in Ahed Tamimi who walked up to Israeli soldiers and kept slapping and kicking them? Or in the 11-year-old Palestinian caught with a knife at a checkpoint who admitted she was on her way to stab Jews? Does the Pope see Jesus in the 13-year-old Palestinian terrorist who stabbed a Jewish boy and nearly killed him?
Having shown his utter lack of sensitivity and probably insulting Jesus as well, the Pope finally remembered to mention those other children suffering and dying in the world…the real victims of intolerance, hatred, and misguided religious and political leaders who prefer to make political points than actually try to save lives. You know, the ones in Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Congo, Central African Republic and Nigeria.
If the Pope wants to express his concerns for the suffering of children, he would be better off mentioning the real problems that impact millions of children rather than bemoaning the suffering of Jewish children (we’ll take care of our own, thank you very much) or Palestinian children (which is largely a product of the actions of their parents, religious and political leaders).
In a world where children are starving, dying of curable diseases, living in regions without potable water, and subject to man’s cruelty, the Pope should consider his words carefully. While no one denies the dangers of human trafficking and the sad situation in which children in the Middle East find themselves endangered by Palestinian violence and terror and the results of it
Is Jesus really in this nasty girl?