As tempting as it is to fight every battle on the PR front, sometimes it helps to stay out of the way and let certain of Israel’s opponents have a clear field to display their stupidity – and to further their irrelevance.
A good case in point comes from Canada, where I live, in the form of a new report from the United Church of Canada, calling for a boycott (ho hum) of goods produced by the “illegal” settlers.
Formed by a 1925 union of Methodists, Congregationalists and 70 percent of the Presbyterians, the United Church is Canada’s largest Protestant denomination, and could serve as the poster child of political correctness, always gravitating toward the most left-wing approach to social and political issues. The United Church has had a long record of promoting anti-Israel positions, although – to be fair – most have been in form of policy resolutions that made it up the food chain through the committee system and were not, in the end, adopted nationally.
But this latest report may be different. Entitled, “Report of the Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy”, it is the result of a 2009 decision to “engage in consultation, dialogue and study (with relevant partners and other interested parties) concerning implications of past and future actions to end the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and enter into conversation as to how to move the two peoples toward reconciliation (including, but not limited to, economic boycott)…”
The Working Group was led by David Giuliano, past Moderator of the Church, and two members of the Executive of the General Council, Thom Davies and Barbara White.
The mandate tells you just about all you need to know – “illegal occupation” and “boycott” but no mention of terrorism.
The report itself, however, does include language supportive of Israel’s right to exist, and language condemning terrorism. It endorses a two-state solution, and presupposes that such a solution is possible if only both parties can be motivated by concerns for justice and human dignity.
The report – surprise, surprise – offers a detailed description of the damage done to the Palestinians by the Israeli occupation. But there is not a word about Hamas and the Hamas Charter, about the anti-semitic character of the Palestinian education system, or about how ludicrous it is to expect a settlement when the Palestinian side is represented by two factions with opposing points of view. It is as if the Working Group were determined, in advance, to pay not attention to whether or not their pieties had any chance whatsoever of being actualized in the real world.
But the real kicker – and the one statement that immediately called down widespread scorn and derision on the entire document – was this:
“The working group believes that the dignity of all peoples in the region must be at the heart of the policy directions set out in this report. Peace with justice, human rights, and international law will form the foundation of any peaceful resolution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. All of these principles, however, rest on a commitment to human dignity, and none will have lasting force without acknowledging the dignity of all people who are involved in this conflict.”
Fair enough, although one wonders how the Working Group – which visited the region and supposedly spoke to representatives of all parties – could have written these words and yet paid no attention to the Hamas charter. But that’s just the warm-up. Here is the crowning glory:
“The deepest meaning of the Holocaust was the denial of human dignity to Jews.”
In a sentence, the entire project is reduced to nonsense.
Could it be possible to compose a sentiment more obtuse?
The deepest meaning of the Holocaust was – and is – that six million people were cold-bloodedly and systematically murdered.
To overlook this staggeringly obvious fact, and to characterize the Holocaust as the committing of an abstract wrong — in order to slide it up against a wrong being suffered by the Palestinians today — is to perform a feat of either breathtaking immorality or breathtaking stupidity. My vote is on the latter, but my adjective works either way.
Within a day of the report’s publication, what was to be an outpouring of scorn began, not only from Jewish leaders, but from editorial writers, columnists, bloggers – and even a United Church minister, Rev. Andrew Love, from Arnprior (near Ottawa), who started a campaign to get rank-and-file members to oppose the recommendations in the report. “The vast majority of people in the pews are not ready to embrace this kind of extremist and radical agenda from a small minority,” he told the National Post. He added that the report contains “elements of anti-Semitism” because of the way it minimized the importance of the Holocaust.
The report will be voted on by the church’s national convention in August – but it’s interesting to go further into Rev. Love’s observation about the disconnect between some of the church’s leaders and the members.
The church had over 600,000 members when it was formed in 1925, and the number rose steadily to a peak of almost 1.2 million by the early 1960s. Since then, the church has taken very liberal or “progressive” positions – not only on the Middle East, but on theology (some of its ministers are atheists, and say so) and social issues (pro-choice, pro-same sex marriage). Membership has declined steadily. Today it is below 500,000 and still falling.
The Working Group report certainly doesn’t help.