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August 30, 1985 - Image 33

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-08-30

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Fears Reprisals

Continued from Page 4

But as the conversation
continued, it became clear
that that was the given rea-
son, not the real reason.
After all, the Vatican has
diplomatic ties with some
112 countries, many of which
are involved in belligerency,
civil wars and border dis-
putes — Ethiopia, Sudan,
Angola, Nicaragua, among
others. And those relations
are sustained even though
the Vatican does not approve
of many of their ideological
The real reason, it seems
quite clear, is that the Vati-
can profoundly fears that
should she move from de
facto recognition of Israel
that Arab-Muslim fanatics in
the Middle East and in Af-
rica will launch a wave of
reprisals against millions of
Arab Christians and African
Christians in predominantly
Islamic countires. Over and
over, Vatican authorities

Italy is engaged in a
geopolitical trapeze
act in the Middle
East, being
supportive of Israel
while cultivating her
economic and
political ties with
the Arab world.

kept referring to the precari-
ous plight of Catholics in
Lebanon who suffer daily
violence at the hands of
fanatic Shiite and Sunni
Muslims, and the virtual im-
potence of the Vatican in
helping to protect them.
(Christian groups have recip-
rocated violently as well.)
The Holy See officials also
described in painful detail
for us the horror stories of
more than a half million
Christians who were killed
in the south of the Sudan by
the northern Arab Muslims,
and the half million Chris-
tians killed by the Muslim
leader Idi Amin when he was
president of Uganda.
So great is this preoccupa-
tion over the threat of Is-
lamic fanaticism to the secu-
rity of Christians that Pope
John Paul II in a recent ad-
dress to the diplomatic corps
accredited to the Holy See
berated those Muslim coun-
tries whose citizens have
come to Europe in the mil-
lions and have been assured
religious liberty while Mus-
lim countries have denied
those same human rights to


W1 Ws

"se . AC' CS ill '1,1 Mr is rs "s

Christians living in their
Thus, it is far more the
fear of Muslim reprisals than
antipathy toward Israel that
has thus far precluded de
jure diplomatic ties between
the Holy See and Israel.
There are, of course, con-
tested issues between the
Holy See and Israel — the
status of Jerusalem, Palesti-
nian self-determination, and
holy sites. But those are
negotiable issues whereas
fear of Islamic reprisals are
not subject to rational com-
Finally, recent conversa-
tions have convinced me that
Italian foreign policy play_s_a •
far greater influence in Vati-
can affairs- than is generally
recognized. In recent years,
Italy has been trying ur-
gently to emerge as one of
"the big five" European pow-
ers on 'the international
As the one truly Mediter-
ranean nation in the Euro-
pean Community, Italy is
now heavily engaged in
commercial and trade rela-
tions with Arab countries.
Italy is dependent for 85 per-
cent of her • oil supplies on
Arab nations. The present
Italian government is jockey-
ing to win nearly $1 billion
worth of contracts from
Egypt for building that coun-
try's first nuclear power sta-
tion and the second stage of
Cairo's metro system. And
some 20,000 Italian workers
are now serving in Libya.
Libya's Central Bank owns
17 percent of Fiat, and Italy
exports large amounts of
arms to Arab countries, in-
cluding Libya despite her
role in exporting terrorism.
Italy has a troubled
economy — continuing high
inflation (12-13 percent),
high unemployment (10 per-
cent), and a massive state
budget deficit on the order of
17 percent of. the country's
gross domestic product. (The
U.S. federal budget deficit
amounts to about 4 percent
of the GDP.)
That economic pressure
has led the Italian govern-
ment to become increasingly
dependent on Arab nations
for economic relief. Those
obdurate survival needs have
influenced a pro-Arab, pro-
PLO tilt in Italian foreign
policy far more than some
ideological vision.
At the same time, Italy
has been friendly toward Is-
rael. Prime Minister An-
dreotti told us, "One point is
firm for us — Israel's right

Friday, August 30, 1985 33


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Continued on next page

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