Dexter Van Zile is the Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA). Van Zile’s work has appeared in a number of publications including The Jerusalem Post and The Boston Globe.
In an article published in CAMERA on June 8, 2010, Van Zile stated:
“In 1975, [Melkite Archbishop Hillarion] Capucci was convicted of smuggling guns from Lebanon into the West Bank. Moreover, he rebuked an American held in Tehran during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979.
“Capucci was arrested by Israeli police on Aug. 18, 1974 and charged with smuggling weapons into the West Bank. The following day the New York Times reported that Capucci, who was born and raised in Syria, was accused of “acting as undercover liaison man between Al Fatah guerrilla group [in Lebanon] and Palestinian guerrilla cells” in the West Bank. According to a Times summary, police reported that large quantities of weapons and explosives were found hidden in his Mercedes sedan in Aug after he returned from visit to Lebanon. Source says Capucci was associated with abortive incident in May during Sec Kissinger’s visit in which 3 Katyusha rockets were aimed at the center of Jerusalem. Rockets were discovered before they went off.
“Later that month (Aug. 24), the Times reported that Capucci had allegedly told Israelis that he was “forced into guerrilla service by threats of blackmail.” Capucci told the Israelis that he was threatened with physical violence and “the disclosure of actions that might jeopardize his position” within the church. The Times also reported that Capucci faced charges of being accessory to murder because three men who were accused of murdering a Jerusalem taxi driver obtained their weapons from one of Capucci’s drop points.
“During the trial, Capucci refused to give a statement or sworn evidence because he said Jerusalem was Arab territory and that “Israeli law does not apply in the city” (New York Times, Oct. 30, 1974).
“Eventually, Capucci was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He spent two years in prison before the Israeli government released him after a special request from the Vatican. On Nov. 4, 1977 the Washington Post reported from Jerusalem about Capucci’s impending release:
“Demands for Capucci’s release have turned up regularly in the lists submitted by airplane hijackers, including the Entebbe hijackers, but where the threats have failed, a personal letter from Pope Paul has apparently succeeded. …. The price Israel extracted from the Vatican for Capucci’s release was a personal letter from the Pope which, according to officials here, contains some admission of Capucci’s guilt and the acknowledgement that he received a fair trial. At the very least, sources said, the letter cannot be construed as a denial of his guilt. The appeal is being made on humanitarian grounds.
“The understanding with the Vatican, according to Israeli sources, is that Capucci will not be allowed to make propaganda for the Arabs against Israel and that he is to be posted to a place outside the Middle East.”
“Capucci violated the terms of his release on a number of occasions, most recently participating in the so-called humanitarian flotilla into the Gaza Strip.
“At the time of his trial, Capucci said he was forced into smuggling weapons for the PLO. If that was the case, then Capucci should be ashamed of his past actions.
“Apparently, he isn’t. He recently accepted an award the Star of Jerusalem Award from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The award was given to him for his efforts on behalf of the Palestinian people, which according to a Google translation of an article published by WAFA, included “secret work in support of the Palestinian revolution.”
“Capucci is a convicted criminal, whose gun-running contributed to the death of a taxi driver in Jerusalem who was killed by the weapons he smuggled. He is a criminal who was given an award for his criminal actions by the Palestinian Authority.”
To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.”
(Photo credit: WAFA)