Our Lady of Blockade Busting

posted at 10:12 am on July 23, 2010 by J.E. Dyer

In the dearth of US reporting on flotilla activity aimed at Gaza, one item is getting a small amount of attention – if not, in my view, enough.  News reports from the Levant today suggest that the Lebanese flotilla that was delayed indefinitely in June expects to get underway in the next few days.  The two confirmed ships in the flotilla will stop in a third-country port (probably in Turkish Cyprus) before trying to reach Gaza; the ship that is to leave from Beirut has been given the name Maryam,  for Mary the mother of Jesus Christ, and will reportedly carry only women as passengers (presumably the crew is male).  At least half of the 50-some women in the group are Christians, and an unspecified number are nuns.

The make-up of Maryam’s passenger list has no doubt changed a bit since the original reports about it in mid-June, when Maryam was first scheduled to depart.  Some reports from June suggested “several dozen” nuns were among the passengers, but with the total number being between 50 and 60 and half of the women being Muslims, this would have to be an overstatement.  Nevertheless, there continue to be reports of a substantial contingent of Lebanese Maronite Catholic nuns (who are Roman Catholic), and a handful of American Catholic nuns, among the Christians.

I wrote a month ago about the troubling fact that the Patriarch of Antioch, head of the Melkite Greek Catholic church in the Levantine region, was issuing blessings for the Lebanese flotilla.  The Maryam activists are moving ahead full-throttle in this vein, referring to their “weapons” as their “faith in the Virgin” and renaming themselves all “Maryam plus a number” for the duration of the voyage.  It is one thing for people to act in their capacity as concerned (if misguided) citizens; another again for them to act in their capacity as ambassadors of Christ – as the nuns are doing – and invoke blessings in the name of Jesus on what they do.

It’s not clear whether the American nuns on Maryam – there are reportedly as many as five – are members of a recognized canonical order.  This report suggests five nuns from Oregon were to participate; another report from a US activist (cited in my 3 July flotilla update) mentions a nun from Wisconsin.  I haven’t been able to find any information on the order(s) they come from.  They may or may not respond to pointed guidance from the Vatican.

But the Lebanese nuns are Maronites, a denomination of Roman Catholic Christianity.  The indications would suggest that they have the approval of their spiritual authorities – see, for example, the photo in this Haaretz article from June showing the Maronite Archbishop of Sidon in a warm greeting with Samar al-Hajj, the Lebanese activist spearheading the Maryam effort.  (Ms. Al-Hajj, a Maronite Christian, is the wife of General Ali al-Hajj, one-time director-general of Lebanese Internal Security and a longtime suspect – released in 2009 – in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.)  There is enough of an implication that the Church endorses the Maryam initiative for the Vatican to intervene – as Israel’s diplomats have asked it to – particularly given the risks involved in trying to run the maritime blockade.

It has become absurdly clear that there is no humanitarian need to break the maritime blockade of Gaza.  Not only does Israel herself provide goods to Gaza as well as allowing all third-party humanitarian aid to enter Gaza via land: in June and early July, the Netanyahu government lifted the remaining prohibitions on non-military goods.  From an equally practical standpoint, there is no value for cost or efficiency in delivering goods to Gaza by sea.  There is no infrastructure in Gaza’s port, and hence no possibility of delivering bulk cargo efficiently.  As this academic study from 2004 concluded, the cost-effectiveness of delivering cargo to Ashdod and convoying it over land will make it uneconomic to even build up a commercial port infrastructure in Gaza; the only reason to do it would be political.  That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, but it does mean that under any state political conditions, Gazans would pay more for the same goods, for the foreseeable future, if they were delivered to Gaza by sea than if they were convoyed from the port in Ashdod.

The purpose of the flotillas is to break the blockade – imposed to prevent the importation of weapons – not to deliver humanitarian goods.  It is a political objective, not a spiritual one.  In this regard, it’s worth noting what two of the American nuns reportedly did earlier this month, as their days lengthened in Beirut and Maryam waited for the go-ahead to depart.  According to this account by Franklin Lamb, the nuns paid their respects – as part of an “American delegation” – to the deceased Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual leader of Hezbollah and the cleric who blessed the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1982.  Says Lamb:

They [the American delegation of which the nuns were a part] felt they were the true representatives of their country, not their Embassy, thought by some to be in Lebanon to promote Israel’s agenda, not American interests.

Individuals have a certain right to be ignorant, prejudiced, and foolish, but it is not at all out of line to suggest that the Vatican has a special responsibility to offer better guidance to its faithful.  The “civil disobedience” the Maryam activists have in view has no application for either Christian compassion or social justice; it cannot be justified as an act of Christian love.  It’s about breaking a blockade – one imposed lawfully, by the way, in accordance with the applicable international conventions – so that a terrorist group (Hamas) can more readily import weapons with which to terrorize both Israelis and Gazan Arabs.

The most likely fate of Maryam – and her sister ship, M/V Nagi al-Ali, last reported in Tripoli – is being turned aside and heading for an Egyptian port rather than courting a serious armed response from the IDF.  That’s what went down with the most recent blockade-runner wannabe, Libyan ship M/V Amalthea.  I don’t think there’s real potential for an armed showdown again until the next Turkish flotilla sets out, assuming there is one. (See my previous posts linked above for information on that.)

Nevertheless, the likelihood of a non-dramatic outcome for Maryam doesn’t excuse the Church’s leadership for its apparent hands-off, de facto endorsement of a project that qualifies as not just ill-advised but “a-Christian.”  Like Melkite priest Hilarion Capucci’s gun-running for Fatah in the 1970s, joining a flotilla that proposes to “deliver humanitarian aid” by the least effective method possible, in order to weaken a lawfully-imposed blockade that keeps viciously homicidal weapons out of the hands of terrorists, is quite obviously not what Jesus would do.

Cross-posted at The Optimistic Conservative.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Comments

Why can’t religious leaders just focus on God…that’s what Jesus did.
But leave it up to a terrorist group to use a bunch of nuns and women as shields…they are so stupid they can’t see how they are being used…

right2bright on July 23, 2010 at 10:16 AM

There has been a reporting blockade on this stunt. Thans so much for update.

seven on July 23, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Libyan ship M/V Amalthea.
====================================================

Israel Navy prepares to halt Libyan Al-Amal ship

http://delhi.mfa.gov.il/mfm/web/main/missionhome.asp?MissionID=93&

canopfor on July 23, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Maj-Gen (res.) Eiland presents conclusions of examination team
======

12 Jul 2010
The team concluded that not all possible intelligence gathering methods were fully implemented and that the coordination between Navy Intelligence and the Israel Defense Intelligence was insufficient. At the same time, The team determined that the Navy Commando soldiers operated properly, with professionalism, bravery and resourcefulness.
================

http://delhi.mfa.gov.il/mfm/web/main/missionhome.asp?MissionID=93&

canopfor on July 23, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Oh my goodness. Thanks for the reporting.
From Oregon? There is no surprise if that is true.

ORconservative on July 23, 2010 at 10:20 AM

in order to weaken a lawfully-imposed blockade that keeps viciously homicidal weapons out of the hands of terrorists, is quite obviously not what Jesus would do.
———————————–

True Dat!!

canopfor on July 23, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Why in _______ (don’t even know what to write there) are Roman Catholics allowing themselves to be used by radical Muslims against Jews?

rbj on July 23, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Hard lessons are about to be learned.

I wonder, whats the downside if Israel seizes these ships?

I bet the UN would probably condemn the action. Ouch. I bet that’ll hurt world opinion of Israel.

My guess is, the Israeli government is near panic in trying to find a way to keep their standing in the world from being sullied by the UN.

Oh…did I say panic? I meant “doing what they can to not laugh out loud” at the UN condemning something they do.

UN = Un-Needed

BobMbx on July 23, 2010 at 10:25 AM

1. A nation that runs a blockade has committed an act of war. So Libya is going to war with Israel?

2. US citizens conspiring to interfere with US foreign policy is a crime. So these US nuns will be prosecuted?

3. Obooba buddy Rashid Kalidi is conspiring to send a ship called The Audacity of Hope to break the blockade. See #2 above.

Akzed on July 23, 2010 at 10:26 AM

12 Jul 2010
The team concluded that not all possible intelligence gathering methods were fully implemented and that the coordination between Navy Intelligence and the Israel Defense Intelligence was insufficient. At the same time, The team determined that the Navy Commando soldiers operated properly, with professionalism, bravery and resourcefulness.

They also determined that fast-roping onto a ship with unknown intentions and passengers, and not being prepared for hostile acts is stupid.

Lesson learned.

BobMbx on July 23, 2010 at 10:27 AM

From NRO:

Obama’s close friend, the rabidly anti-Israel professor Rashid Khalidi, is back in the news. The former PLO spokesman has signed an appeal for funds to outfit a ship that would join yet another attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. In the last such attempt several weeks back — a contingent of Islamists and radical leftists, perversely identifying themselves as the “peace flotilla” and armed for hand-to-hand combat — carried out a premeditated attack on the Israeli defense force that denied them passage.

Remember Khalidi? The name of the ship? The Audacity of Hope.

Fallon on July 23, 2010 at 10:29 AM

Perhaps the Israelis could rename one of their ships “Clifford’s Tower” and use it to stop the nun vessel.

Bishop on July 23, 2010 at 10:31 AM

2. US citizens conspiring to interfere with US foreign policy is a crime. So these US nuns will be prosecuted?

Akzed on July 23, 2010 at 10:26 AM

I am not 100% positive, but I think these are the same nuns that “tresspassed” on the sub base in Groton, CT some years back. They climbed the fence to get in the base to protest Nuclear weapons. And they were prosecuted in Federal court for trespassing.

Johnnyreb on July 23, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Why in _______ (don’t even know what to write there) are Roman Catholics allowing themselves to be used by radical Muslims against Jews?

rbj on July 23, 2010 at 10:22 AM

rbj: Thats what I’m thinking!!:)

canopfor on July 23, 2010 at 10:36 AM

I really hope there is some cosmic thing that happens in 2012 because right now everything right is wrong and everything wrong is right.

moonsbreath on July 23, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Nevertheless, there continue to be reports of a substantial contingent of Lebanese Maronite Catholic nuns (who are Roman Catholic), ….

WRONG. They are an Eastern Catholic Church. Do better research.
Meanwhile, RCs can be just as stupid as anyone else. I know this because I a…. oh wait.
Seriously though, the Pope is not a dictator, and there is no Church police. Catholicism is more like a federated republic than the Soviet Union.

Randy

williars on July 23, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Obama’s fault!

OldEnglish on July 23, 2010 at 10:43 AM

Jesus, being Jewish, would probably not help the people whose main purpose in life is to kill Jews.

Phoenician on July 23, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Why in _______ (don’t even know what to write there) are Roman Catholics allowing themselves to be used by radical Muslims against Jews?

rbj on July 23, 2010 at 10:22 AM

“Social Justice.”

Wethal on July 23, 2010 at 10:51 AM

Nevertheless, there continue to be reports of a substantial contingent of Lebanese Maronite Catholic nuns (who are Roman Catholic), ….

WRONG. They are an Eastern Catholic Church. Do better research.

To expand on this distinction… the Maronite church is in full communion with the Roman Catholic church, as well as other Eastern Catholic churches, but is not part of the RCC itself.

Suppose that someone had stated that residents of New Jersey are “New Yorkers”. The states are “in communion” with one another, but they are separate entities.
(That the NY Giants and Jets play their home games in NJ might contribute to the confusion.)

The Monster on July 23, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Why don’t the Lebanese nuns worry about humanitarian aid to their own war-torn country, which DOES have a substantial Christian population, than to Gaza, where the leaders hate Christians almost as much as Jews?

This has TROUBLE written all over it. All Israel needs right now is video showing up on the CNN, the Beeb, and Agence France-Presse (not to mention Al-Jazeera) of armed Israeli commandoes with “poor innocent little” nuns on a “humanitarian” ship while off-camera terrorists shoot at them, and half the world will blame Israel, and the other half will blame Pope Benedict.

Like all those staged reports of Iraqi civilian casualties when EEEEVIL Americans dropped bombs on Baath hangouts where guys were shooting fireworks to celebrate a “wedding”. Will the nuns be attending a “wedding” too?

Israel does have the right to inspect the cargo of that ship, and if the nuns are hiding guns, shame on them.

If Bibi Netanyahu is aware of this, he should call Pope Benedict to inform him of the problem AHEAD OF TIME. Neither of them want nuns needlessly getting hurt or killed, but sometimes naive nuns need guidance from above. Benedict, who was a teenager in Nazi Germany, understands the danger of stupid provocative gestures against tyrants, and will probably not want the Church associated with such a foolish and un-Christian endeavor.

Steve Z on July 23, 2010 at 10:56 AM

If IDF finds it necessary to smack around a nun, I’d back them. Hell, I’d even smack a nun around myself. I’ve encountered too many nuns who behaved in a dishonest and vile way in the name of “social justice.”

Blake on July 23, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Why do they need humanitarian aid?

Has anyone seen that huge beautiful mall that was just opened in Gaza? (Not mentioned much on Lamestream media)

If they have enough money for that I don’t see all this desperate need for aid, anyone but me????

concernedsenior on July 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Many of the orders which went liberal during the 60 & 70 still have some active members left. Social activism not social justice is the watchword of those orders. I will bet 10 to 100 that the nuns on this “mission” are from order{s} that have not had any woman join as a postulate (woman who is “trying her vocation” to become a nun in that order) in 10 years. Those orders are dieing and this is one of the last big political moves these women will make.

The orders that are attracting new women to join them are the ones that decisively are NOT into social activism.

talking_mouse on July 23, 2010 at 11:03 AM

in order to weaken a lawfully-imposed blockade that keeps viciously homicidal weapons out of the hands of terrorists, is quite obviously not what Jesus would do.

Yes, cuz Jesus was real big on following the laws of men over the laws of God. {{ roll eyes}}}}

I think Jesus would realize there are other ways to deny weapons to terrorists than to starve an entire population of people. I think it’s safe to say that Jesus would approach this situation with love………not a “lawfully-imposed” naval blockade.

I’ve never been to Gaza, and I seriously doubt J.E. Dyer has either. Maybe someone who has been to Gaza can give us a flowery description of how wonderful life is for the people in Gaza due to Israel’s “generosity” in allowing humanitarian aid to trickle into the territory.

David2.0 on July 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM

I imagine a lot young women become nuns out of idealism and some of them get impatient and sidle into political activism. And some of that activism is truly harebrained. And the Church has yet to develop an exorcism for their useless idiocy.
Those of us who are not Catholic often still imagine the RCC as a military or at least corporate style hierarchy but I suspect that a large state university would be a better analogy.

Seth Halpern on July 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Why do they need humanitarian aid?

Has anyone seen that huge beautiful mall that was just opened in Gaza? (Not mentioned much on Lamestream media)

If they have enough money for that I don’t see all this desperate need for aid, anyone but me????

concernedsenior on July 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM

How many “huge, beautiful shopping malls” are in Israel?

Any reason why they need $3 billion a year in aid from U.S. taxpayers?

I’m just using your yardstick to determine “need”.

David2.0 on July 23, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Israel is right up there with Fox and Briebart

tomas on July 23, 2010 at 11:13 AM

Israel lifted the blockade on many non-military goods, but it’s my understanding that the blockade still generally applies to building materials like concrete and steel (subject to exceptions for approved projects).

Jimbo3 on July 23, 2010 at 11:14 AM

Finally, Bible-thumping sky gazing religious geeks that the left can get behind.

Bishop on July 23, 2010 at 11:18 AM

I imagine a lot young women become nuns out of idealism and some of them get impatient and sidle into political activism. And some of that activism is truly harebrained. And the Church has yet to develop an exorcism for their useless idiocy.
Those of us who are not Catholic often still imagine the RCC as a military or at least corporate style hierarchy but I suspect that a large state university would be a better analogy.

Seth Halpern on July 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Seth, it depends on which order you’re talking about. Most of these nuns, especially the American ones, are likely from orders that are liberal, and concerned primarily with “peace and justice”. They are the ones that cast off their habits after Vatican II (the “pantsuit nuns”), like Sr. Helen Prejean, the one portrayed by Susan Sarandon in Dead Man Walking.

Those orders (thankfully) are dwindling in numbers, unable to find new recruits. The orders that still wear a habit, and are faithful to the teaching of the Church (like the Dominicans), aren’t having any problems finding new members; young, holy women gravitate toward those orders.

Ward Cleaver on July 23, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Why can’t these people render unto Caesar?

Mojave Mark on July 23, 2010 at 11:23 AM

According to my wife the IDF should be issued with steel-edged rulers to rap across the nuns’ knuckles. (She’s Irish).

OldEnglish on July 23, 2010 at 11:24 AM

SINK THEM!

GarandFan on July 23, 2010 at 11:25 AM

@David2.0: Of course they don’t “need” US aid. Neither does Egypt. It’s a back door stimulus for the US arms industry and a political bribe of ancient and honorable
pedigree.

Seth Halpern on July 23, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Exactly right, Seth.

Thank you. :-)

David2.0 on July 23, 2010 at 12:18 PM

If IDF finds it necessary to smack around a nun, I’d back them. Hell, I’d even smack a nun around myself. I’ve encountered too many nuns who behaved in a dishonest and vile way in the name of “social justice.”

Blake on July 23, 2010 at 10:56 AM

I’m sure you jest, but if you ever do feel the need to slap around a nun, please do so in my presence so I can demonstrate to you what a poor choice you made.

David2.0 on July 23, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Maybe someone who has been to Gaza can give us a flowery description of how wonderful life is for the people in Gaza due to Israel’s “generosity” in allowing humanitarian aid to trickle into the territory.

David2.0 on July 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Yes, actually someone has been there and Rich posted the link to it. The Palestinians don’t look to be suffering if you as me.

http://www.israellycool.com/2010/07/18/scenes-from-the-gaza-mall/

sharrukin on July 23, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Maybe they are the new Anglican male nuns?

Hening on July 23, 2010 at 1:26 PM

I’m sure you jest, but if you ever do feel the need to slap around a nun, please do so in my presence so I can demonstrate to you what a poor choice you made.

David2.0 on July 23, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Yes, I’m sure you’re 300lbs, 6’8″, a 10th degree black belt, ex-SEAL. I am just totally terrified, as I’m sure many others are.

Or you could be a pencil-necked geek writing from mommy’s basement, testosterone raging from the 10 hrs spent playing video games.

Shambhala on July 23, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Fine. Turn the ship towards Egypt. Maybe they’ll lift their blockade and allow the “humanitarian” aid to pass.

Squiggy on July 23, 2010 at 1:37 PM

Maybe someone who has been to Gaza can give us a flowery description of how wonderful life is for the people in Gaza due to Israel’s “generosity” in allowing humanitarian aid to trickle into the territory.

David2.0 on July 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Yes, it’s all Israel’s fault. Even though Egypt also has a total blockade on anything or anyone passing between Gaza and Eqypt. They don’t even allow food or water through. But you’re right – it’s all Israel’s fault.

Those bastards.

Squiggy on July 23, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Yes, cuz Jesus was real big on following the laws of men over the laws of God. {{ roll eyes}}}}

I think Jesus would realize there are other ways to deny weapons to terrorists than to starve an entire population of people. I think it’s safe to say that Jesus would approach this situation with love………not a “lawfully-imposed” naval blockade.

I’ve never been to Gaza, and I seriously doubt J.E. Dyer has either. Maybe someone who has been to Gaza can give us a flowery description of how wonderful life is for the people in Gaza due to Israel’s “generosity” in allowing humanitarian aid to trickle into the territory.

David2.0 on July 23, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Don’t forget Egypt’s “generosity,” as Egypt shares a border with Gaza and could let in anything it wanted….if it wanted.

And as far as the “starving” in Gaza, check out the new mall: http://www.israellycool.com/2010/07/18/scenes-from-the-gaza-mall/

Wethal on July 23, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Yes, actually someone has been there and Rich posted the link to it. The Palestinians don’t look to be suffering if you as me.

http://www.israellycool.com/2010/07/18/scenes-from-the-gaza-mall/

sharrukin on July 23, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Note that it recently opened and that it’s the first mall in Gaza: The Gaza Center for shopping the first shopping mall in the Gaza Strip.

Jimbo3 on July 23, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Note that it recently opened and that it’s the first mall in Gaza: The Gaza Center for shopping the first shopping mall in the Gaza Strip.

Jimbo3 on July 23, 2010 at 1:57 PM

That’s as true as it is irrelevant. I realize irrelevant is your stock in trade, but the point is that they have lots of food and goods.

That the poor dears had to go to a local market rather than a mall to shop for food is heartbreaking, but hardly starvation.

sharrukin on July 23, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Note that it recently opened and that it’s the first mall in Gaza: The Gaza Center for shopping the first shopping mall in the Gaza Strip.

Jimbo3 on July 23, 2010 at 1:57 PM

But if Egypt had allowed in more goods and building materials, they would have had more.

Wethal on July 23, 2010 at 2:30 PM

“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” Matthew 22:21

Israel = Caesar in this case.
These Nuns are being disobedient to Jesus’s teachings.

scotash on July 23, 2010 at 2:44 PM

It has become absurdly clear that there is no humanitarian need to break the maritime blockade of Gaza. Not only does Israel herself provide goods to Gaza as well as allowing all third-party humanitarian aid to enter Gaza via land: in June and early July, the Netanyahu government lifted the remaining prohibitions on non-military goods.

But it so difficult to smuggle heavy artillery past even lazy border guards.

Slowburn on July 23, 2010 at 4:56 PM

Note that it recently opened and that it’s the first mall in Gaza: The Gaza Center for shopping the first shopping mall in the Gaza Strip.

Jimbo3 on July 23, 2010 at 1:57 PM

Maybe if they would demand that certain Pal factions act human and not like animals they would have more malls. Whatever malls are worth.

CWforFreedom on July 23, 2010 at 6:28 PM