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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism


by John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, Ph.D

by John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, Ph.D

Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics

Catholic Theological Union


During the presidency of Bill Clinton I had the opportunity to testify before the

U.S. Congress on a bill which affirmed that the capital of the State of Israel

is Jerusalem and that our embassy should relocate there at a proper time.

The bill was eventually passed and signed by the President. I am glad I

gave this testimony because I do recognize that Jerusalem is the spiritual

center of the Israeli nation. But I also have maintained the view that the

relocation of our embassy should be part of a negotiated peace agreement

that also makes way for Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. While such

a peace agreement will never come easily there are proposals out there that

would be acceptable to moderates on both sides of the current political


But the situation is not there for a genuine peace agreement so long as the

U.S. political leadership in Washington and in Israel remains committed to

settlement expansion and to a superficial understanding of the conflict, especially

in terms of Palestinian national consciousness. I want to be clear. I am not

casting all the blame for a failure to achieve a peace agreement on the U.S.

and Israeli governments. Too many simplistically do that. The political

divides within the Palestinian camp and the often morally irresponsible actions

of Hamas which harm their own people are also to blame. I remember a

panel discussion at Bethlehem University several years ago when a group

of Christian students spoke with utter disdain for Hamas, something I have also

heard from important Palestinian Catholic clergy.

But this was not the time to move the embassy. I do not necessarily believe it

will completely destroy the peace effort. That effort will only be destroyed if

our government fails to involve in any peace effort people far more qualified

and knowledgeable about the area than the obviously inept team now involved.

In addition the invitation to an openly racist Christian pastor was the height of stupidity and an insult to other Christians, including Catholics, as well as Mormons and even Jews. This is also the case for the blessing Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump received from one of the most racist ultra orthodox rabbis in Israel, a man who has insulted black Ethiopian Jews. These situations reveal either a deep seated racism within the Trump administration or extremely poor vetting. Both possibilities remain profoundly disturbing both on the moral and political levels.


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