According to a new report from the United Church of Canada, “the deepest meaning of the Holocaust was the denial of human dignity to Jews.”
Oh, really? Actually, I’d say that the “deepest meaning of the Holocaust” was the slaughter of six-million human beings. Being strip-searched by police for no good reason is an infringement of one’s “dignity.” Getting thrown into a gas chamber is a little bit more serious. I’m guessing the last thoughts of the victims at Auschwitz, as their silent shrieks left their throats, wasn’t “Oh my, but this is undignified.”Which is why schlepping them to Israel was never going to work (and why I said so at the time).
So why that choice of phrase — “human dignity” — on the first page of the United Church’s Report of the Working Group On Israel/Palestine Policy? The answer becomes obvious in the very next paragraph: “The working group is also aware that the Occupation has meant a loss of dignity for Palestinian people” — including “the denial of the legitimacy of the Palestinian experience.”
See how they did that? See how that magically expansive, all-encompassing word “dignity” works? The Holocaust damaged “human dignity.” So does the uprooting of Palestinian olive trees. So does a pundit who fails to ponder the “Palestinian experience.” Why, it’s all part of the same struggle. (Incidentally, the same trick works with “social justice” — which is why you see that one thrown around a lot by Middle East peace-studies types, too.)
The pity of it is that the substance of the United Church’s report, which was released on Tuesday, isn’t particularly radical. Yes, it repeats the slander that Christians “are leaving Palestine because of the Israeli occupation, not because of conflict with Muslim Palestinians” (one wonders if the dreaded Israeli Occupation is equally to blame for the even greater mass exodus of Christians from Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq). But it also clearly states that questioning Israel’s “legitimacy” and its “right to exist” is unacceptable. That’s a proposition that most of us find obvious, but which is a live controversy in the left-wing NGO circles where United Church types travel...