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The Religious Left was befuddled in 1989 and 1991 when the old Soviet bloc crumbled, having invested so much in urging accommodation of it, while having actively supported many of its client states and proxy revolutionaries around the world.
Though the situation is not wholly comparable, left-leaning church groups are somewhat similarly puzzled by the recent fall of Middle Eastern dictatorships. For 30 years, the Religious Left ignored human rights abuses everywhere in the Middle East except for Israel, while insisting Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, abetted by the U.S., was the centrifuge of all discontent.
Some Religious leftists, like Jim Wallis of Sojourners, were belatedly able to celebrate Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in Egypt, since he was a U.S. ally and a semi-partner to Israel. Dealing with the revolution against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, a rabid anti-American, will be more difficult. That Gaddafi is a cartoonishly stereotypical despot and rogue who’s brutalized and robbed his nation for 42 years is beside the point.
So far, the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) is nearly alone on the Religious Left in addressing the current Libyan revolution, where possibly more than a 1000 have died so far, with many more likely to follow. Impartially, the WCC’s central committee “condemns the use of force on all sides” and called “all parties to respect the human rights of all people in Libya and we urge that ways be found to establish a peaceful dialogue to end the violence, and that efforts be made to ensure a future that brings peace with justice and security for all people.” This is the same WCC that routinely denounces every Israeli bulldozer on the West Bank as a grievous outrage. So far, the National Council of Churches has not spoken. Jim Wallis’ Sojourners has posted a sympathetic article about the Libyan revolt on its website. But much more typical is the story headlined: “When Will 3.5 Million Palestinians Get Their Chance For Freedom?” When Libya’s 7 million people get their freedom from a far more despotic regime has not much interested the Religious Left.
There have been times in the past when the Religious Left responded to events in Libya with outrage and alacrity. When the U.S. bombed Libya in 1986 in response to a Libyan terror attack on a German night club frequented by U.S. military personnel, the World Council of Churches condemned the U.S. act as “immoral” and “seriously violating laws and norms governing international relations.” The WCC expressed “profound sympathy for all those who have suffered as a result of the U.S. raid on Libya,” without shedding too many tears over the victims of Libyan terror, except being “deeply concerned about the spread of international terrorism,” which could not be “solved by acts of war or violent retaliation.”
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