Father Samir Khalil Samir, SJ is Professor of Islamology and Middle East Christianity at the Pontifical Oriental Institute. He recently sent me a lengthy letter in which he wrote: “J’apprécie beaucoup ce que vous écrivez sur l’Islam” (I appreciate very much what you write about Islam). He does not, however, appreciate very much what I write about Israel and the “Palestinians,” as he made clear in that letter and has now reiterated in a comment he left at Jihad Watch this morning:
Father Samir Khalil SAMIR, SJ says
January 15, 2017 at 8:12 am
All the insults that I read in some of the comments are shameful and unworthy of this site.
1) Pope Francis is a man who seeks to build PEACE among peoples. What he said about Islam as “a religion of PEACE” was not correct, as I explained to him in my personal meeting with him for 30 minutes on Monday, 6 June 2016. I also gave him my book “Violence and non-violence in the Qur’an and Islam” and 3 other articles from me on the question. Its objective is to restore the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Muslim world, interrupted for nearly 6 years, and it has succeeded: the meeting is scheduled for the month of February in Cairo.
2) His meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas goes in the same direction: it is about building together PEACE. The State of Palestine exists, recognized by the United Nations, just as the State of Israel exists. It is not the USA that decides whether or not a state exists, but the United Nations, notwithstanding certain readers. However, the State of Palestine never invaded the State of Israel, or occupied a single square meter of that State. On the other hand, the State of Israel invades periodically the State of Palestine, occupies a part of it after having driven the Palestinian inhabitants. In my opinion, the invading State (whatever it is) is a terrorist state.
3) Pope Francis — who is neither American, nor Palestinian, nor Israeli — does not judge with feelings, but according to the INTERNATIONAL LAW. If we want to live in PEACE –and this is the primary goal of every reasonable citizen –, INTERNATIONAL decisions must be respected, even if they are questionable. They could be discussed, but as long as they exist they must be applied. I am convinced that PEACE is possible between these two States, and that the majority of Palestinians and Israelis want it. They must be helped to achieve it by scrupulously respecting INTERNATIONAL decisions, even if it means reviewing certain points.
4) Finally, it is a serious mistake to mix religion with this question, as a great many of the citizens of the two States unfortunately do. It is a question of INTERNATIONAL politics, which can only be resolved by INTERNATIONAL Law. It is not a matter of sentiment or sensitivity. The problem is POLITICAL, it is not sentimental or religious.
Father Samir Khalil SAMIR, SJ (Professor of Islamology and Middle East Christianity at the Pontifical Oriental Institute)
To that I responded:
Robert Spencer says
January 15, 2017 at 12:32 pm
Thank you for your comments.
1. He appears not to have heeded your wise counsel in regard to the nature of Islam. What good is a “dialogue” with the Muslim world when it is based on false pretenses?
2. In reality, the Arabs (the “Palestinians” had not yet been invented, as they would be in the 1960s by the KGB and Yasir Arafat) rejected a Palestinian Arab state in 1948, and the surrounding Arab states invaded the State of Israel with the intention of destroying it. By your own statement that “the invading State (whatever it is) is a terrorist state,” Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia are terrorist states for invading Israel at that time. Your claim that “the State of Israel invades periodically the State of Palestine” ignores the fact that these “invasions” are preceded in every case, without exception, by rocket attacks by “Palestinians” against Israel, murders of Israeli civilians that are celebrated by “Palestinians,” etc. The fact is undeniable that if the “Palestinians” laid down their arms, there would be peace, while if the Israelis laid down their arms, there would be a new genocide of the Jews, as is frequently called for on official Palestinian television stations.
3. Your claim that the majority of “Palestinians” want peace is belied by surveys showing that “Palestinians” overwhelmingly favor the imposition of Sharia (which would deny Christians basic rights), as well as suicide bombings: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/1/pew-poll-palestinians-favor-suicide-bombings-shari/
4. As you no doubt know well from your study of Islam, in Islam the religious and the political cannot be so easily separated.