Gaza not unlike a big concentration camp, says top Vatican official

Not just repulsive but gutless, since he leaves us to guess which side he thinks wears the swastika. Even to venture a Holocaust analogy under the circumstances is a supreme insult, of course, but he’ll get away with it because he gets to hide behind the cross.

Absolute moral authority, you see.

Cardinal Martino expressed concern over the humanitarian situation, saying “Let’s look at the conditions in Gaza: these increasingly resemble a big concentration camp.”

He added: “Defenceless populations are always the ones who pay.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that this amounted to “Hamas propaganda”, and accused the cardinal of ignoring Hamas’s “numerous crimes”. “This does not bring the people closer to truth and peace,” it said.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which monitors anti-Semitism and tracks down Nazi war criminals, attacked Cardinal Martino for making remarks that were “untrue, distort the memory of the Holocaust and are only used against Israel by terrorist organizations and Holocaust deniers”.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the centre, said: “The cardinal should know that however difficult conditions may be in Gaza, the one thing it surely is not is a concentration camp where Jews were brought to die either by slave labour, starvation, or in most cases burned in the crematorium.”

Surely not, but as Hier himself noted elsewhere today, the rules for Israel are different. I wonder, if Gaza’s just Dachau by another name, why’s the AP running reminiscences by its reporters of how life used to be before the bombing started? (“Al Dera, a beautiful hotel on the Mediterranean shore, was a place where young men and women smoked water pipes and flirted, and where families went for dinner on Thursdays.”) Are there similarly wistful recollections in the archives at Yad Vashem that I’m not aware of? “The Buchenwald I Knew”?

I’ll spare you the atheist boilerplate about how unrealistic the Christian approach to conflict resolution is here (“violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned”) and remind you that there’s politics afoot as well. Benedict has his own strategy for engaging with Muslims, and alienating them by supporting Israel against eliminationist scum like Hamas only complicates it. His “peace at all costs” agenda also makes him a potentially valuable useful idiot for fundamentalists too, a fact that hasn’t escaped Iran’s attention. Given their interest in Gaza, who knows if they haven’t already leaned on him to be scrupulously “evenhanded” in his statements. Ironic in Martino’s case if so, considering how highly nuanced indeed is Iran’s view of the Holocaust.

Tough day for Israel, though. First the Vatican comes down on them, then the world’s Ultimate Moral Authority hails Hamas’s weapons tunnels as “defensive.” What’s next, a statement from St. Barack deploring the “cycle of violence”? Exit question: Should Israel cancel the pope’s visit?