Editorial voices from elsewhere

May 30, 2014

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:

Chicago Tribune

Pope Francis was guaranteed to make headlines on his visit to the Middle East just by the fact that the head of the Roman Catholic Church was going to one of the most tense regions in the world. The safest course would have been to script every moment of his itinerary and reduce the risk of controversy.

So what did he do? Made an apparently impromptu invitation Sunday to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to visit the Vatican to pray for peace. It was a grand symbolic gesture.

Apparently at Abbas’ urging, Francis made an unexpected stop Sunday at a graffiti-covered section of Israel’s security barrier on the edge of Bethlehem, where the pope touched his forehead to the wall and said a prayer. Palestinians view the security wall as evidence of Israel’s intolerable control over their territory. Israel sees the wall as essential to its defense against Palestinian attacks. The stop rankled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A day later, at the suggestion of Netanyahu, Francis made an unscheduled visit to a memorial to victims of terrorism. He also visited the grave of Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism who espoused the idea of the modern Jewish state. That visit rankled some Palestinians. Overall, though, Palestinians had to be pleased that the pope during this trip repeatedly supported their bid for statehood.

The journey created no breakthrough in the long and immensely vexing process of reaching peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

But the pope did force leaders on both sides, at least momentarily, out of their comfort zones. There’s value in that. The pope should take his show on the road again soon.

Los Angeles Times

What’s in a name? In the case of the Washington Redskins, a lot of history – and an irrefutable ethnic slur that ought to embarrass the National Football League enough to finally force some action.

And it is a slur. The National Congress of American Indians and other tribal organizations have strongly objected to the term, and as targets of the slur, they are in the best position to call it so.

The team’s owners have complained over the years that renaming the team would anger fans and make meaningless the millions of dollars that have been spent marketing the team. To which we respond: It’s past time for a change. Cut your losses.

Toronto Star

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi no doubt expected fawning Egyptians would snap smartly to attention and throng to the polls to hand him the presidency this week. But there’s trouble in the ranks. Angry and apathetic voters are going absent without leave.

His Excellency was counting on a huge turnout to legitimize not only the coup against former president Mohammed Morsi, but also the repression since visited on the Muslim Brotherhood. However a Brotherhood boycott and public apathy at a rigged election has rained on el-Sissi’s victory parade.

Some polling stations in Cairo and elsewhere were all but deserted on Monday and Tuesday, as TV announcers harangued viewers to get out and vote. Panicky officials declared a holiday on Tuesday to goose the turnout. Finally, in desperation, they decreed that voting would continue on Wednesday until the balky voters get it right.

This rebuff to el-Sissi and his supporters is richly deserved. They have presided over a campaign of repression that has put Morsi and others on trial, banned the Brotherhood, killed 1,400 of its supporters and jailed 16,000. In contrast to the credible, closely-fought campaign that brought Morsi to power, this week’s has been a rigged farce. Egyptians don’t have to pretend to be engaged. And the world doesn’t have to respect the result.



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