Tough Roads Ahead for Two Men of Peace

Pope Francis and John Kerry Look To Forge Connections

Difficult Jobs: Pope Francis is looking to bring together the faithful and non-believers. Secretary of State John Kerry is on a mission to restart Mideast peace talks. Neither task is simple.
Getty Images
Difficult Jobs: Pope Francis is looking to bring together the faithful and non-believers. Secretary of State John Kerry is on a mission to restart Mideast peace talks. Neither task is simple.

By Leonard Fein

Published May 25, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Two men who have recently attained very high office now, each in his own domain, search for encounters. The encounters for which they search are quite different from one another, though both are surely commendable. Let us examine their quests.

First we have Pope Francis, who is in various ways proving to be a man of uncommon vision and decency. Here is just one illustration, from a talk this week on Vatican Radio in which the Pope spoke of the need to encounter one another on our common ground.

“The commandment for everyone to do good is, I think, a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will create a culture of encounter. We need that so much. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am atheist!’ But do good; we will meet one another there.” It is in doing good that we will meet, that we will fulfill Creation’s destiny.

The faithful and the atheists, he said just two months ago, can be “precious allies…to defend the dignity of man, to build a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation.” Belonging to the Church turns out, in the Pope’s view, to be less important than belonging to each other.

Our Secretary of State, John Kerry, is also in search of encounter. He is a man of zeal, of passion and of conviction. But the encounter that is foremost on his agenda, the encounter of Israel and the Palestinians, remains elusive, his four recent trips to the region notwithstanding.

Often, he seems to me a lonely conductor, there on the podium on a stage that is empty of instrumentalists. Sometimes, when he leaves the stage for a recess, two clarinetists show up, one entering stage right, the other stage left. They are both virtuoso players, but they are playing different tunes, tunes that clash with each other. That is not the kind of encounter Kerry seeks to foster.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.