OUR LADY OF SORROW
By Israel Shamir
Quietude of the West should frighten us well beyond the Middle Eastern
context, as it possibly means our civilisation is dead.
In the Upper church of Annunciation in Nazareth, there is a striking
collection of images, homage of artists to Mary. A dainty Virgin in
colourful kimono holds her child dressed in ceremonial Japanese royal robes
among blue and golden flowers; a naïve Gothic face of Madonna transferred
from French Cluniac illuminations; the Chinese Queen of Heaven cut in
precious wood by Formosa devotees; the Cuban richly inlaid statue of Madonna
of Guadeloupe, the Polish Black Madonna, the tender face of Byzantine Mother
of God, a modernist steely Madonna from the United States look from the
walls of the church, uniting us in one human family. There is hardly an
image in the world as universal and poignant as that of the Virgin and the
Wherever you go, from Santiago de Compostella in the far west of Spain to
the golden domes of Russia, from frozen Uppsala in Sweden to Hagia Sophia in
Constantinople, you will find this adorable face. Best artists depicted her
compassionate features, her love to her child and her sorrow. Botticelli
painted her with a pomegranate and among the Kings of the East; Michelangelo
and Rafael, Cimabue and Titian, van der Weyden and Fra Filippo Lippi were
inspired by her image. This unique mix of a young girl and mother, of
vulnerability and protection, of admiration and love formed the spiritual
and inspirational base of our civilisation.
She appeared to a Mexican peasant, and her flower-covered image arrested the
strife and united Native Americans and Spaniards in one nation. She gave her
rosary to Saint Dominic and a letter to Portuguese kids in Fatima. Prophet
Muhammad saved and cherished her icon found in the Mecca shrine, writes
Maxim Rodinson. She appeared to a wealthy Jewish banker Alphonse Ratisbonne,
and he took orders and built convent of Sisters of Zion in En Karim. A
Palestinian Muslim in a refugee camp of Lebanon preserved her image taken
from his native Galilee, tells Elias Khoury in his novel Bab Al-Shams
(recently translated into Hebrew by Moshe Hakham and edited by Anton
Shammas). Syrian astronauts asked for her protection in the shrine of
Seidnaya before the flight on the Soviet space shuttle[i].
In medieval legends, the Jews were often perceived as enemies of the Virgin.
A column stump on Jerusalem's Via Dolorosa marks the place of a legendary
Jewish attack on her. These were old tales, and now new facts. This week in
Bethlehem, a Jew shelled the Virgin. A Jewish soldier in the formidable tank
Merkava-3 constructed according to the US technology at the US taxpayer's
expense fired a shell at fifty yards at the statue of Madonna on top of The
Holy Family church in the Nativity town.
The Virgin lost an arm, and her pretty face was disfigured. She became one
of a hundred Palestinian women shot by the Jews in the present outburst of
war. This seemingly unnecessary act of vandalism could not be an accidental
shot. No terrorist hided behind her gentle figure on the pinnacle of the
hospital church. At fifty yards, you make no mistake. It could be orders; it
could be a spontaneous expression of feelings by a Jewish fanatic. Our world
rewinds full speed back into Dark Ages, and as Israel rekindled traditional
Jewish hostile rejection of Christianity, it can not be excluded.
Whatever it was meant to be, the shrapnel shot became the last check of the
mind control system: will this sacrilege become widely known? And will it
stir the hearts of Christendom? The doubly negative result of the check
probably confirmed the greatest hopes of its initiators. The world mass
media, from New York to Moscow via Paris and London, has been secured in the
grip of Jewish supremacists; not a squeak gets out unless authorised. The
current Israeli invasion of Ramallah and Bethlehem was covered under the
heading 'Sharon looks for peace'.. The UN resolution equalized the
aggressors and their victims in sotto voce. The Western mainstream media
drew the blanket of silence over the cries from the Holy Land.
Alexander Cockburn[ii] writes this week: "It's supposedly the third rail in
journalism even to have a discussion of how much Jews control the media.
Jude Wanniski remarked last week in his daily "Memo on the Margin" in his
Web newsletter Supply Side Investor that it was certainly true to say that
the Jews control discussion of Israel in the media here".
Indeed, the story was reported by Reuters and this dreadful picture was
taken by an AP photographer. It was available to the world media. Still, no
important newspaper or magazine printed it. Instead, they published stories
of Christian anti-Semitism.
The conscience of the West suffers of the mirror vision complaint regarding
the Middle East. Terrorist actions were perpetrated by the Jews against
Palestinians, but the very name of Palestinians became the epitome of
terrorism. Palestinians face holocaust; Jewish soldiers print numbers on
their foreheads and forearms, separate men and send them into concentration
camps, but Jewish holocaust memorials spread like mushrooms. Israel and the
US disregard the international law, but their adversaries branded 'rogue
nations'[iii]. While Palestinian towns are invaded by Israeli tanks, the
Wall Street Journal published an article Israel under Siege by the illegal
'Mayor' of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert. Churches are shelled, Gospel books burnt,
Christians persecuted by the Jews in Palestine, but it is Christian
anti-Semitism that worries news editors and churchmen.
The accusation of anti-Semitism became the blood libel of our days. Or was
it always? In the Merchant of Venice, Shylock complained of Gentile hatred,
though it is he who hated, while others disproved of his loan-sharking
practices. Instead of cutting the loan rate, he preferred to cut Antonio's
flesh, and hide behind his claims of discrimination. If Shakespeare's Portia
would have our modern attitude, she would rather let Shylock have his pound
of flesh than stop him and be accused of anti-Semitism.
Probably in such a spirit, the guardians of the public conscience decided to
spike or play down the sacrilege in Bethlehem. This quietude of the West
should frighten us well beyond the Middle Eastern context, as it possibly
means our civilisation is dead.
Civilisation can't survive if its sacral heart ceased to beat. When faith
loses its relevance, civilisation dies, wrote the philosopher of history
Arnold Toynbee in his explanation of the ancient Egypt's collapse. There is
no life without sacral, seconded the philosopher of religion, Mircea Eliade.
Whether we accept philosophy of history, or mystic reading, or pragmatic
sociological studies; whether we follow Durkheim or Heidegger, the
conclusion is the same: indifference to the fate of the Virgin of Bethlehem
bodes ill to the Christian Western civilisation. It implies that the
Europeans and Americans lost the sacral core, and our profaned civilisation
is doomed to extinction, unless we'll turn away from the edge of the abyss.