The Associated Press on Monday announced the maiden flight of a Vatican-backed charter airline service �aiming to carry pilgrims to such Catholic shrines as Lourdes, Fatima, Santiago de Compostela and the Holy Land.�
The reporter, Marta Falconi, seems to be fairly current in her knowledge of geography except in the case of �the Holy Land,� the nationhood of which appears to be outside the limits of her information.
The story states that �Officials expect the deal will bring an estimated 150,000 passengers a year to destinations including Fatima, Portugal; Lourdes, France; Santiago de Compostela, Spain; the Holy Land; Czestochowa, Poland; and Sinai, Egypt.�
To which �Holy Land� does Ms. Falconi refer, do you suppose? I�m guessing it�s the one most Christians and Jews mean when they use the phrase � in other words, Israel.
One might notice here that every destination except the �Holy Land� has a country name assigned to it. Judging from this, one might conclude that �Holy Land� is the official name of some place, instead of a designation attributed to Israel and the disputed territories.
It�s not an oversight, because it�s done twice in the story.
Is there a message in the omission?
I guess the good news embedded in this story is that it would seem to suggest a possible increase in tourism, and by extension tourism dollars, to Israel. This, as long as the Palestinian violence and antagonism is kept to a low roar, could wind up being very good for both the Israeli and Palestinian economies.
But I can�t help wondering why Ms. Falconi�s lapse of geographical expertise only arises when the subject is Israel.
She wouldn�t be subtly suggesting the country isn�t legitimate or shouldn�t exist, I don�t suppose.
Perhaps it�s meant to avoid drawing the ire of the radical Islamic world over the use of the Jewish state�s name.
I hope not.
That would be along a similar vein as another recent AP story in which a Catholic priest suggested Christians salve the tender feelings of the Muslim masses by referring to God in Christian services as Allah.
A really terrible idea if you ask me, even if, as the priest evidently pointed out, there is only one God, so it doesn�t matter what we call him.
That may be true, but I�ll call him Chaimyankle before I call him Allah. There�s a principle, here. But that�s just me.
Whatever the actual explanation for leaving Israel out of the Holy Land references in Monday�s story, I can�t help thinking it has something to do with appeasing Muslim sensibilities because not doing so has been known to open up an ugly and violent Pandora�s Box.
If that�s not it, it can really only be an intentional and extremely biased anti-Israel slam, which would reflect very badly on the AP, if not the Vatican.
You can�t take your eyes off these media types for a second, can you ?
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