PM Trudeau visited Auschwitz on Sunday and like any sentient being was deeply affected by what he saw and wiped away tears several times as the survivor Nate Liepciger pointed to the massive ruins and shattered masonry that had once been gas chambers where millions met their deaths.
Trudeau to his credit made a point of asking to visit Auschwitz following the NATO summit in Warsaw. Anybody who gets to Warsaw and ignores nearby Auschwitz is terminally incurious.
Visiting this replica of hell prompts serious thinking about the human condition.
My visit has remained indelible. I spent much time in the showers and crematoria with my bible.It served to deepen my pioneerin work on the shoah. It eventuated in my double solidarity to the state of Israel but also to the humiliated face of the Palestinians mabdated by the gospel.
Post Auschwitz I journeyed to Israel, a sad country which has never internalized the universal meaning of the Nazi atrocity, a country in former speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg’s words “where today there are horrible layers of racism that are not essentially different from the racism that exterminated many of our ancestors.” Burg’s Orthodoxy is universal in its understanding. He reminds Jews today that ” since the shoah took place there is no genetic Judaism, only ethical, obliging Judaism. Automatic Judaism, bereft of self-criticism and moral obligations is for mer an abominable race theory.”
Burg an intrepid critic of israel’s brutalization of the Palestinians said in his classic book The Holocaust is Over, We must Rise from its Ashes,”never again not just for us Jews but for every suffering victim in the world today”—and I would add to the Jews of israel, the Palestinians.
My fear is that once again holocaustmania will be used to mute any criticism of Israel and Trudeau will continue as has until now, become blind to Palestinian suffering.
The late British-Jewish historian (d.2005) Tony Judt writing in the Nation in 2005 made this point:
The Shoah is frequently exploited in America and Israel to deflect and forbid any criticism of Israel… It gives American Jews in particular a unique, retrospective “victim
identity”; it allows Israel to trump any other nation’s sufferings (and justify its own excesses) with the claim that the Jewish catastrophe was unique and incomparable….
This modern instrumentalization of the Holocaust for political advantage is ethically disreputable and politically imprudent.”
One can only hope that Trudeau will grow in his understanding. A sensitive man, right now he sees with one eye and his clouded vision will continued to be manipulated by people with no shame and les sensitivity to others’ suffering.
Next stop Gaza if the jailers will let him in