Archive for May 2017

Jewish nonviolence: “The world is watching.”

May 31, 2017

lana Sumka is the director of the Center for Jewish Nonviolence who works out of Belgium. She is also a “Jewish Jew” not an Israeli who turns her back on injustice, not a tribalist originally from America who has a hard time reconciling what Israel has become.


Sumka is a Jewish hero one committed to ending the Israeli occupation. She was the first by being the first Jewish person to receive an honorary Bethlehem “passport” as part of the international Open Bethlehem campaign.

None of this prevented her from being manhandled by israeli soldiers whom she was taught were superheroes “who’d protect me from harm.”
She recently described her journey in Haaretz from being young and Jewish in the USA 70s to her present role as an anti-occupation activist.
While the rest of the world was preparing for the new American president’s first visit to Israel, in a small village called Sarura deep in the West Bank, 130 American, Canadian, European and Australian Jews were standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Palestinians, taking blows from Israeli soldiers.

Sarura was a Palestinian village in 1999 and on the pretext of it being “a military firing zone,” 700 were evicted.In 2001. Across from this village the extremist settlers moved in and established an illegal outpost now linked to the electric and water grid. Last week, a coalition of Palestinians, Israelis and Diaspora Jews came together to reclaim Sarura. We called the project “Sumud: Freedom Camp. ‘ Sumka describes her “awakening.”

Like many Jews around the world, it took time for me to realize I couldn’t reconcile this reality of Israel’s occupation with the Israel I thought I knew. For me, it took living in Israel for seven years, studying and eventually traveling in the West Bank every day to witness first-hand the rise of settlements and the on-going displacement of Palestinians to reach a conclusion that terrified me, and that I had not been able previously to accept.   Israeli policy in the West Bank is based on racial and ethnic discrimination in which Jewish rights and Jewish access to land are privileged over and at the expense of Palestinian rights and Palestinian access to land.


There is no moral case to be made that justifies the separate legal systems, the unequal access to basic resources, the impunity that settlers enjoy or the constant harassment, violence, and displacement that Palestinians face. There is certainly no Jewish case to be made for this. Two years ago I founded the Center for Jewish Nonviolence to bring Jews from around the world to join the Palestinian grassroots nonviolent movement on the ground, alongside our Israeli counterparts.
On May 20 at midnight the brave IDF moved in to dismantle the camp and manhandle the protestors.

But oh how things have changed. Israel can no longer hide what it has been doing for decades.The computer, cell phones, cameras, Facebook has shattered the mendacious israeli narrative and exposed the stunning persistent cruelty of a settler colonial state.

The presence of hundreds of Jewish Americans, Europeans and Australians changed the equation. We linked arms, stood shoulder to shoulder – Palestinians, Israelis and Diaspora Jews – and took out our cameras.  Rabbis, Jewish academics, Jewish day school graduates, Jewish summer camp counselors were all there, filming and livestreaming to our friends, family and communities back home, and the Israeli army knew it.  When these confrontations happen to Palestinians alone, the Israeli army can count on no one watching. We were there to make sure the world was watching.

This brave woman concludes:

It will take more than busloads of American Jews standing in solidarity in the West Bank to end the occupation. But tonight, my Palestinian, Israeli and Jewish American friends are sitting around a campfire drinking hot tea, showing the world an alternative to the status quo. When we turn our privilege into power for our oppressed sisters and brothers, and when we value justice and shared humanity over displacement and discrimination, we win.

NDP way behind the curve on Israel

May 28, 2017

The sage of Vancouver Island, Phil Little sent along this disturbing note about the cluenesness of the NDP vis a vis Israel.


It is absolutely astounding, given all we know about this apartheid state that a party putatively dedicated to social justice can not see through the embarrassing hasbara (propaganda) of Israel asiduosly promoted by its diminishing idolators

The previous leader Tom Mulcair was a absolutely tone deaf in this regard and Justin Trudeau is about as craven  as Stephen Harper was when it came to Israel.

As the sun is setting on this settler colonial state are there no Canadian leaders ready to support BDS which is a tried and true nonviolent strategy crafted to bring Israel back into reality. It helped wake South Africa from its moral slumber and can help wake Israel up to its present pariah status on the world stage.

Meanwhile the Zionist thought police, this time B’Nai Brith, two weeks ago viciously attacked NDP Leadership candidate Niki Ashton for speaking at a rally for Palestinian human rights in Montreal

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has 50 staffers ready to poince on any polyicians who dares to challenge Israel’s false narrative. Most Canadian politicians bend to this pressure.
Signs of hope however abound and one of these signs is the marvelous Independent Jewish Voices which continues to speak out of universal Torah values.


Phil Little sent this warning which the NDP ignores at its own peril:
Are you aware that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) paid for the New Democratic Party’s foreign affairs spokesperson Hélène Laverdière to speak on a panel at its conference last year.  Then months after her AIPAC speech, Laverdière participated in a Jewish National Fund tree-planting ceremony in Jerusalem. During a visit to Israel with Canada’s governor general, Laverdière attended a ceremony with the fund’s world chairman Danny Atar and a number of other top officials.

As you must know, because while you may have chosen silence as your defence I know you are not stupid, there is a so called “Canada Park” not far from Jerusalem, funded by Canadian charitable organizations for which charitable donation status is allowed, and treed with Canadian pine seedlings, for which three Palestinian villages were bulldozed – that is eradicated from history – the inhabitants forced to become more refugees as the Israeli policy is not only to relocate Palestinians but to erase the memory of their existence in the land they have occupied for more than 2000 years.

Canada P

Canada is complicit in the grave injustices inflicted upon the Palestinian people, whose ONLY offense was to live in a land coveted by another group  who have entered this historic land with holocaust in their minds and hearts, and an intent to eliminate the current residents by whatever means.  Of course that was met with resistance, which was met with greater weapon power supplied by European and North American governments and industry.

As the NDP enters into a more critical phase of its leadership race, it is important that the leadership candidates come clear and clean as to where they stand on the rights of Palestinians –  those inside occupied Israel and the millions who are waiting for their right to return to their ancestral land.

This is a matter of fundamental justice which cannot escape the NDP campaign.  As a long time member of the NDP and a supporter of “New Democrats for Fairness and Transparency”, I strongly urge you to get off the pot and to stand on the side of justice.  There will never be peace in the Middle East if there is not a change in the status quo in Israel and Palestine.  A two state solution has been made almost impossible by the building of settlements in the occupied areas, but until all citizens are accorded equal status and full rights in the state, Israel will remain a pariah nation and will eventually collapse because it cannot sustain a reality built on a false and manipulative myth which even the Jewish community is finding more difficult to support.

Be assured that this will be a question at all all-candidates meet and greet forums.

Phil Little
Ladysmith BC

May 15 is Nakba Day

May 15, 2017


The 15th of May is NAKBA Day

Al Nakba, which means “The Catastrophe” in Arabic, refers to the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their land in 1948 for the creation of the Israeli state. The trauma and memory of Al Nakba is still alive as millions of Palestinians living inside and outside of Palestine/Israel wait to return to their ancestral lands, while thousands more continue to be expelled from their land. The Nakba has had a profound effect on the lives,



narratives, identities and culture of generations of Palestinians. Every year on May 15th the Nakba is commemorated around the world.

The memory burns as Israel desperately tries to deny even a mention of this brutal act.

Today in Nazareth where a Jew who also lived under occupation, Yeshua ben Miriam (Jesus of Nazareth) proclaimed a a new reign of justice the  police denied the organizers a permit, saying there is a shortage of officers to oversee the march.


But Palestinian leaders in Israel accuse the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu of being behind the decision, in what they believe is the latest move to silence their commemoration of the events of 69 years ago.

It wont work despite the continued apathy and indifference of our political elite and media to the plight of the Palestinians the world is catching up to the enormity of this crime.

Today, demonstrators flooded the streets of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip today to mark the anniversary of the ethnic cleansing 750,000 Palestinians in 1948.


Nearly seven decades on, the number of registered Palestinian refugees has swelled to more than 5.3 million. They live in United Nations-run camps throughout the region, including in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

Canada is a Christian nation LOL

May 13, 2017

The main purpose of the nation-state bill is to remind Israel’s Arab citizens that they are second-class citizens while creating constitutional infrastructure for the possibility that Jews might become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, making it necessary to give them legal preference over other citizens. The usual name for that is apartheid.
Haaretz editorial May 12, 2017

We, the people of South Africa, believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.” So begins the constitution of post-apartheid South Africa.

“France… ensures the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion,” states Article 1 of the French Constitution.

New legislation to cement the definition of Israel as a state belonging exclusively to Jews around the world is a “declaration of war” on Palestinian citizens of Israel, the minority’s leaders warned this week.

The bill, which defines Israel as the “national home of the Jewish people”, passed its first vote in the Israeli parliament on May 10. Even though there are 2 nations living there, Netanyahu represses the fact that Israel is a binational state imposing an apartheid regime.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to get the measure on to the statute books within 60 days and Israel will not be a nation of all its peoples. Netanyahu will be the PM of of the Jewish nation and not the PM of Israel.

Meanwhile in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Pelideau inspired by former PM Stephen Harper, announced in a parallel move that he too would be introducing legislation naming Canada as “the national home of Christians alone.”

When Peladeau was challenged by opposition member Luther Martin NDP, Centre Island he replied,”It’s time we stood up to immigrants and refugees particularly from Muslim lands who have diluted the pur laine of White Christians.”

Speaking to Toronto Sun and National Post reporters in front of St.Michael’s Cathedral, Peledeau said, “Make no bones about it, this is a Christian nation. You ride the Queen street car from Parkdale to the Beach and you see all these brown non-Christian people to whom we have given the vote and you wonder where this country is going. All the Arab people and and all the Jewish people living in one state with equal citizenship and equal rights.? You call that democracy?


I believe my good friend Binyamin Netanyahu has every right to claim Israel is both a democracy and a Jewish state. What the hell are Palestinians doing there anyway?


When reporter Rosie De Minish reminded him that 20% of Israel are both Palestinian and indigenous and feel utterly marginalized in the socalled “only democracy in the Middle East,” Peledeau snorted, “I suppose you are going to tell me that a democracy is a political system of all its citizens, irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity. You are wrong. Canada is the national home of the Christian people—and if I had my way, it would be the national home of the Catholic people.’


Self-censorship on Israel

May 11, 2017

The Star reached a new low on March 24 when it allowed its columnist Rosie Dimanno to launch a vile attack on the distinguished international jurist, professor Richard Falk. Dimanno’s shocking screed should have never passed a discerning editor’s desk but the Star for years has allowed Dimanno to opine on almost every subject. Like the US ambassador Nikki Haley who also went after Falk at the UN, Dimanno did not have any idea  of Falk’s scholarship and international reputation.


His crime: he, a Jew, openly criticized apartheid Israel.

The Star, I am sure, received countless letters of disgust at such an ad hominem attack yet not one letter appeared in print including the one I sent.

The newspaper business today is suffering huge losses and almost all print journals including by the way the supposed liberal weekly NOW Magazine are almost paranoid about printing anything negative about Israel.The threat of a boycott makes them all wiggly.

My letter to the Star like several others went into the delete file:

We’ve known for years that Rosie Dimanno is an expert on all subjects—global politics, the Leafs, Blue Jays, etc. No subject is beyond her wide-ranging insights,  arrived at after years of study and travel. Friday March 24 however our Rosie reached a new low, labeling   Richard Falk, distinguished professor of international law and United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights a ‘self-hating Jew.” Is a “self-hating Jew” someone who dares criticize Israel’s  shameful human rights record?

These days there seems to be thousands of self-hating Jews, nourished on a culture of human rights who are embarrassed by a state calling itself Jewish.Dimanno is sadly out of her depth as she usually is when she leaves the locker room of the Leafs and the Jays.She and the Star owe professor Falk an apology.

The Star in the age of diminishing revenue and subscribers bravely attempts to stay true to its Atkinson principles of “comforting the afflicted and inflicting the comfortable” searched for a way out of its dilemma. They refused to print the many letters, then waited 2 months to give Falk a platform, a reasoned, dispassionate article  called “the hazards of criticizing Israel” which it published on May 9 and whichI will comment on in the future.

Needless to say, the Zionist thought police are even more virulent when it comes to Jews who criticize Israel. I know many Jews who simply walk a way from this issue—including many rabbis. They simply refuse to deal with such a polarizing subject. They can’t stand the heat so they get out of the kitchen, in this case the gift of the prophetic vouchsafed to Jew in the Hebrew scriptures.

The many brave Jews of conscience who refuse to be muted have had to launch their own platforms of dissent as their principled criticism simply will not be tolerated in the synagogue.

One such person was the feminist writer Naomi Wolf whose heart was broken over the last massacre of innocents (over 500 women and children) in Gaza 2014


“I went to synagogue last Friday night and had to leave because I kept waiting for the massacre in Gaza to be addressed….. Nothing. Where is God? God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice. I turn in my card of faith as of now because of our overwhelming silence as Jews…..I want no other religion than this, seeing rather than denying myneighbor under fire and embracing rather than dismissing those targeted with annihilation and ethnic cleansing.”


In Canada many Jews of conscience, appalled at Israel’s behaviour, and marginalized in their synagogues, had to move beyond to speak their Torah truths of tzedek, tzedek tirdof—justice, justice you shall pursue (Deut 16:20). Now we have the Independent Jewish Voices begun by a young Jew nourished in the bosom of the synagogue. Now he is a paraih and victim of scurrilous attacks by other Jews and superficial writer like Rosie Dimanno

Zionist thought police

May 10, 2017


15 years ago the local Zionist thought police descended on me, in effect canceling a lecture i was to give at the Jewish library. I asked my timorous host why I was being cancelled for a gig i had never sought but agreed to.The occasion was the launch of my Toronto memoir Shabbes Goy: A Catholic Boyhood.

The host a local rabbi told me that they had done research on me and found out (horrors!) that I actually agreed with Nobel laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu who likened Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to apartheid. Tutu had asked,””Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? Have they turned their backs on their profound and noble religious traditions?”

I told the rabbi that it was his call and that he was making a mistake. However much I had agreed with Bishop Tutu my talk was on my own teenage experience of anti-Semitism in downtown Toronto .I would not be delving into the present morass.

The next day i received several calls from Jewish friends who upbraided me for my “no show,” I asked what the rabbi said. I could not come. Wow, the rabbis lied. I brushed it off and laughed when one of the emailers, a well known Jewish folk singer told me that he had got in his car and went up and pinned the rabbi to the wall for his less than honorable activity.

The I was invited to the downtown Jewish Y to speak as the only goy at Books and Bagels, a Sunday discussion on a relevant book. The lady in charge called me and informed me the thought police had assured the Y that was no longer a friend of the Jewish community and they should cancel me. To their everlasting integrity, the Y refused and a large crowd—many old friends from my Harbord baseball days–came and we had a ball. I never even addressed the Palestinian question as it was outside the purview of this book.

Another time, a chagrined congregant at a local synagogue sadly informed me that “they had received phone calls” and it would be best if I did not come.”

I simply chalked this up to the rising tide of fear and paranoia which was gripping the Jewish community at this time.


15 years later things have gotten considerably worse as the computer, cell phones and brave Jews of conscience have unmasked the real situation in Israel/Palestine.

Israel, triste dictu,l is descending into almost a McCarthyite simulation of a failed democratic state, now run by the most rightwing government in its history. The world has gradually caught on to its cruel occupation and Israel now runs a little ahead of North Korea as a pariah state. All this is sad to me, a former Catholic Zionist who really wants Israel to join the nations a s a true democracy rather than not an ethnocracy which favors one people.


Recently the cruel hysteria has ramped up its venomous attack and the thought police has in their sights on critics of Israel who happen to be Jewish. To this I return tomorrow.

Occupation unmasked

May 8, 2017

“I’m in my home…what are you doing here?”

It happens every day and it’s been going on for decades, out of sight of diaspora Jews and the rest of us, who out of tribalism and a bizarre theology  continue to reflexively support the apartheid nation, once aptly described by Israeli journalist Ben Caspit writing for Maariv ,”as not a state with an army but an army with a state.”

In this article the brave Haaretz journalist Amira Hass goes out and talks to Palestinians daily victimized by robotic teenage soldiers.

One of those soldiers once said to me, ”what country puts a 20 year old kid in a million dollar tank”?

Occ 17
Those sad victims brainwashed for 15 years in the Israeli school system, then evangelized by the army are thrown into the maelstrom of an occupation.
Resistance has grown in Israel among many sectors. These Jews of conscience can no longer take a government which sneers at international law and betrays Judaic values. Here in the article Hass lets us know of the creative camera distribution project of B’tselem the israeli hunan rights organization. This began in 2007 providing training to Palestinians living in areas in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza strip.It simply documents the heretofore hidden life of occupation.


This brilliant award winning project is merely one part of the changed video landscape which has unveiled the long hidden brutalization of a colonized people.

Amira Hass’s article follows



To the Parents of the Israeli Officer Now Starring in This Disgraceful Video

The proud Jewish soldier didn’t expect the Arab to disobey, so he had to act fast, and then concoct the story that he was attacked Video by B’Tselem of incident near Yitzhar – February 2017 B’Tselem

Your son will be featured there, cocking his weapon against civilians, decisive, coordinated with the other two soldiers who were with him, shooting his orders in broken Arabic, reporting his every move to his commanders. “I’m with three young men, one of them with a camera, not that that bothers me too much.”

Your son didn’t understand what the young man with the camera answered him, because after all, his commanders never taught him ugly IDF Arabic so he could listen and understand, only so he could issue orders.

When he ordered Ahmed Ziyadah to “go home” four or five times, he wasn’t expecting Ziyadah to respond, “I’m in my home. What are you doing here?” These are the lands of my home, Kafr Madama. We came out with the family for a hike, it’s Friday, with other families – men, women and children. You decided to chase us away with tear gas.

Your son didn’t expect that this Arab, armed only with a camera, would boldly approach him and say, “So shoot me; shoot me!” This lack of obedience obligated your son – a proud Jewish soldier – to respond, and fast.

The video is cut off from the moment your armed son and his two armed subordinates physically attacked Ziyadah, who resourcefully managed to extract the data card from the camera and conceal it. Now your son’s heroism is preserved on a video clip that’s included in a film marking a decade of B’tselem’s camera project, to be shown Tuesday as part of the Solidarity Festival 2017. Hundreds of brave and just B’tselem volunteers, Ziyadah among them, have documented what your son and thousands of other sons do during their military service – abuse and brutalize.


Says Ziyadah: “One of the soldiers pressed down hard on my head with his knee. Another soldier put his knee on my back, and the third stepped on my legs with his feet. Every time I tried to lift my head, the soldiers pressed hard on my head, while another soldier tightened the handcuffs on me more and more. I cried out in pain.”

But it doesn’t end there.

A few weeks ago, when I happened to be in the Nablus area one evening, I took the opportunity to respond to a request by Ahmed’s brother, Mahmoud, to come and hear his story. I knew that a soldier had shot Mahmoud with a rubber-coated bullet and seriously wounded him in the leg – fire at close range, in violation of regulations. And who was punished? Mahmoud, of course. The Shin Bet security service hastened to cancel his work permit for Israel. (The Shin Bet said, “Because of Mr. Ziyadah’s involvement in the incident described in your query, it was decided to prevent his entrance into Israel for now for security reasons.”)

Only during the conversation in their home did I realize that the soldiers who had attacked Ahmed were also responsible for his false arrest and six whole days of abuse and torture by other soldiers. During his detention he thought that his brother had been killed because of him. Meanwhile, while Mahmoud was being treated in the hospital, the family feared for the life of Ahmed in detention. That in itself is worth 1,000 words, but that would be too much both for the space in the newspaper and the patience of the readers.

‘I raised my hands in surrender’

Mahmoud was one of the village youths who hurried to the site of the assault when they heard about it. He saw the soldiers hurting his brother, who was on the ground, and yelled in Hebrew, “That’s my brother!” Another soldier (others had joined the three in the interim) pushed Mahmoud back. Mahmoud stepped back, but his brother Ahmed was still groaning in pain under our soldiers’ boots. Mahmoud says, “I went a little closer again, the soldier told me to leave, I raised my hands (as in surrender), the soldier pushed me again, pointed his rifle at my stomach and then at my left leg, and fired. I fainted and woke up in the hospital.”

The soldiers, who know that there’s no risk of their being investigated or punished, fed the IDF Spokesman their fabrications.

“On February 10, 2017, a number of Palestinians were seen approaching the community of Yitzhar [a distance of 1.5 kilometers from the settlement, which serially encroaches on these peoples’ land with their outposts – A.H.]. The Palestinians who came to the site hadn’t coordinated this with the relevant coordination and liaison administration, as is customary when approaching an area near the community [Coordination? There? Since when? Since the rioters of Yitzhar seized control of the General Staff?]

“As a result, given the sensitive security situation in the district [i.e., the proven violence of the Yitzhar settlers], IDF soldiers were sent to the site to prevent them from approaching the community. The soldiers asked the Palestinians repeatedly to leave the area for around 40 minutes. The Palestinians did not fulfill the soldiers’ request, and one of them, Ahmed Ziyadah, even attacked the officer who appears in the video [Rambo was attacking. Is there no limit to the lies?] Following this, the soldiers arrested Ziyadah and he was transferred to the police to handle. The soldiers fired a rubber bullet at the lower body of another Palestinian present at the scene, who tried to attack the soldiers.” [Poor soldiers. All kinds of aliens keep attacking them, which is why you, the parents, will back them and continue to encourage their brutality

Out by 5 years

May 7, 2017

mand m

I loved his spirit and for 20 years I often wondered what happened to him.He was one of those kids who was outrageous, undisciplined but lovable.

Last i heard (rumour) he was fishing off the coast of South Africa.

Could be. Like Vasco De Gama and Magellan he came from the same sea bound nation.

I first rebutted him that he was foolish to fight a turf battle in Christie Pits against Hispanic kids.

He told me he had to stand up to these spics.
Then I warned him if he didn’t stop he would be dead before he was 30.

I was out by 5 years.

At a school reunion Saturday night John told me exactly where he was— in the third tier at Prospect cemetary.

“How do you know?”

“I put him there.”

“How did he die?”

“An overdose.”

Sad closure for me. He should have been at the reunion.

Weep for Israel—and move on

May 6, 2017

Let liberal Jews weep for their dream of Israel, and move on — Alice Rothchild

Alice Rothchild, a Jewish Boston physician after many rips to Israel comes back to the USA and describes the resistance to her message from Jews. She begins with the liberal Jews who “really don’t want to believe this.”


“So for many many people, particularly Jews who are very involved in the myth of Israel, coming to terms with this is an emotional heartbreak. They have to give up a dream that they realize they were duped. And so that’s sort of like doing family therapy. I’ve done presentations at temples where people sat around and wept, because they’re confronting the fact that what they had thought was going on wasn’t going on.

That’s a kind of response that you can really work on. Because people are listening and they’re open, and they know you’re bearing witness to what you saw, you didn’t make this up. That’s stuff you can work with, you can help people move on, you can address the pain they’re feeling.
The kind of pushback that’s really hard to deal with is the people who say you’re lying.

She goes on to the Israel messengers who tell her she’s lying. “I absolutely will not rise to the hysteria. I get hit with rage, I get hit with pain, I get hit with fear.”

Then Rothchild says: “Basically I feel like the way the Israeli state functions is really a danger to Jews. Not only to Palestinians but also to Jews. We need to really think about, What does Zionism mean. Was it a good idea? We must look at what happened. That really triggers a lot of people.”

Nappy wisdom

May 5, 2017

In 2015 there was a Synod on the Family and Cardinal Walter Kasper had to remind “the faithful” that they should not think, that everything could be decided by cardinals and bishops. All those who will participate in the consistory will be celibates, after all. But most of the faithful lived out their faith in families. Families often faced difficult situations that celibates must try to understand.  Lay people have “something to say to us,” Kasper insisted.

No kidding. Theoretically we have a church of equals, basically a lay church served by clerics and the good cardinal had to remind the baptized of this salient fact.

At this time I recall the salty (honest) former president of Ireland Mary McAleese making a few wise cracks. She knew her stuff and had been studying canon law in Rome and at that time was interviewed in Dublin.


McAleese averred that here was something “profoundly wrong and skewed” in looking to a synod of bishops to rule on Catholic teaching about family life.

“The very idea of a hundred and fifty people who have decided they are not going to have any children, not going to have families, not going to be fathers and not going to be spouses—so they have no experience of family life as the rest of us know it—but they are going to advise the pope on family life, it is completely bonkers.”

She had replied to the worldwide survey of Catholic opinion with a question of her own for Francis: “How many of the men who will gather to advise you as pope on the family have ever changed a baby’s nappy?”