You knew this one was inevitable. It is profoundly odious to have to favorably cite the monstrous Alan Dershowitz, but he’s raised the alarm on something really alarming—not without distorting it in the service of his propaganda crusade. In a comment appearing Feb. 25 on Canada’s National Post (among other places) Dershowitz portrays Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, apparently shortlisted to succeed Pope Benedict, as floating conspiracy theories about how the Vatican sex scandal (now reaching surreal proportions, as the Daily Mail gloats) was instrumented by (you guessed it) the Jews.
Dersh gets the Cardinal’s name slightly wrong, dropping Óscar for middle name Andres, and also fails to tell us the source of his incriminating quote. More context is fortunately provided by International Business Times on Feb. 18. They tell us what Dersh fails to: that the quote is not from the current über-scandal, but from 2002, when the sex abuse allegations were just hitting the press—actually, before the scandal had reached the Vatican. Nonetheless, it is genuinely ugly stuff. Said Maradiaga:
It certainly makes me think that in a moment in which all the attention of the mass media was focused on the Middle East, all the many injustices done against the Palestinian people, the print media and the TV in the United States became obsessed with sexual scandals that happened 40 years ago, 30 years ago. Why? I think it’s also for these motives: What is the church that has received Arafat the most times and has most often confirmed the necessity of the creation of a Palestinian state? What is the church that does not accept that Jerusalem should be the indivisible capital of the State of Israel, but that it should be the capital of the three great monotheistic religions?
Dersh also fails to tell us that since then, Maradiaga has made the requisite noises about how he “did not mean to spread anti-Semitic propaganda” (in IBT’s paraphrase)—a typical pseudo-apology. Of course, we’ve also noted how Maradiaga was a supporter of the 2009 right-wing coup in Honduras, but we don’t expect Dersh to have a problem with that. He’s essentially using Maradiaga as a sledge-hammer with which to beat the Palestinians (and those who support them).
What’s a drag is how progressives get so easily confused about this stuff. Because Dersh has dissed Maradiaga, will we all be exhorted by places like The Nation to rally around him, as in the case of conservative Republican Chuck Hagel?