From Mr David Lindsay SIR – Further to Will Heaven (Notebook, January 8), who are these “Jewish leaders” and “Jewish groups” who always seem to appear whenever Pius XII is mentioned? For whom do they speak? And since they know perfectly well that the plain facts of history are against them, what is their real agenda?
Pius the Righteous Gentile, praised by Moshe Sharett, had far warmer relations with Israel than have of necessity prevailed between that state and the Vatican since, several years after his death, the invasion and occupation of the West Bank, as well as regular attacks on Lebanon. I feel that we are starting to see the point, aren’t we? None of this is really about Pius at all. It cannot be – just look at the facts. Rather, it is about the West Bank, Lebanon, Israel’s actions towards them, and the Holy See’s pastorally inescapable attitude to those actions.
The beatification and canonisation of Pius XII would send exactly the right signal in that particular direction (by no means the only one or the most important): if you care about Israel, and if you therefore want her to have warmer relations with the Vatican, then consider that she did have them in the reign of this great pope, and ask yourselves why. If you want good relations with the papacy, then imposing military law on the West Bank and bombarding Lebanon are not the best ways of going about it.
There are those who say that “Jordan is Palestine”. Quite so: Jordan as created at the end of the British Mandate – which is to say, including the West Bank. There has never been a state with its border at the Jordan, and the populations on either Bank are one people. The answer to the question of why anyone ever designed a country so short of water as Jordan is, is that no one ever did. The creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank would be the end of the Hashemite Kingdom: the pressure for incorporation into that state would be irresistible. That, rather than the destruction of Israel, would be the great national aspiration. And then, following its rapid and its largely (if not entirely) bloodless achievement, that would be the great national triumph.
Yours faithfully, DAVID LINDSAY Lanchester, Co Durham