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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Kristallnacht’

MK Hanin Zoabi Keynote Speaker at Kristallnacht Commemoration

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

(JNi.media) Readers working on their annual list of biggest Chutzpa stories of 2015 will likely include the following invite: On November 8, for 15 hours, Amsterdam will commemorate Kristallnacht, Night of Broken Glass of November 9, 1938, with an event at the monument of Jewish resistance behind the Amsterdam town hall, organized by the Nederlands Palestina Komitee, with keynote speaker Hanin Zoabi.

With her credentials of open support for the Hamas terror government in Gaza and her fierce promotion of violence against Jews in Judea and Samaria, it is hard to imagine a less appropriate choice for commemorating the brutal burning down of synagogues and Jewish businesses by the Nazi thugs, unless the purpose of the event were to teach the Dutch masses how to go about burning synagogues and Jewish businesses. And yet, the NPK invitation is there for all to see, appointing the participant in the May 2010 Mavi Marmara Flotilla, meant to delegitimize Israel’s right to self defense, to speak on behalf of Jewish victims.

One of the three female speakers at the event, MK Zoabi—who compared Israel to Nazi Germany more than once—will use her speech to decry Israeli discrimination against Palestinians, according to the announcement, for the following reason: it turns out the annual Kristallnacht commemoration Platform in previous years has always paid attention to the rising racism in the world—Germany, Austria, Greece—however, it never touched Israel, possibly because the organizers in previous years hesitated to attack Jews on the day commemorating attacks on Jews. That’s over, apparently, and “given recent events,” the invite says, “it is now inevitable that we discuss racism in Israel,” seeing as the Centraal Joods Overleg (Central Jewish Board) in the Netherlands is running its own commemoration, “this taboo is broken this year.”

It is noteworthy that the Nederlands Palestina Komitee mentions that Zoabi is a democratically elected member of the Israeli parliament in the same sentence that announces she would be attacking Israel’s policy of discrimination against Arabs. Like we said, do consider this story for your best Chutzpas of 2015 list.

Synagogue Arson in Germany ‘Not Anti-Semitism’ Says Judge

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Three German Palestinians convicted of arson after hurling firebombs at a synagogue in Germany were motivated by trying to bring “attention to the Gaza conflict,” according to the judge who convicted them on Thursday, Jerusalem Post journalist Benjamin Weinthal reported.

The judge in the case did not believe the men were guilty of anti-Semitism, according to outraged Green Party deputy Volker Beck, who told media he wrote to the prosecutor in the case to file a legal objection, reported.

Several days prior to the firebombing, “Free Palestine” had been sprayed in paint on to the wall of the synagogue as well.

The rebuilt synagogue in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia was undamaged in the July 29, 2014 attack, which sparked a solidarity rally outside the building that same night. Dieter Graumann, then-president of the German Central Council of Jews, condemned the attack as did Germany’s Central Council of Muslims.

The two older attackers, ages 29 and 24, were given suspended sentences of 15 months in prison – which means they served no time – and together with their 18-year-old accomplice were ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.

“This is a mistaken decision as far as the motives of the perpetrators are concerned,” Beck told international media in a statement. “Therefore, I have written the prosecutor and called for the filing of a legal objection.“ Burning a synagogue in Germany because of a conflict in the Middle East can be attributed only to anti-Semitism, Beck contended.

“What do Jews in Germany have to do with the Middle East conflict? Every bit as much as Christians, non-religious people or Muslims in Germany, namely, absolutely nothing. The ignorance of the judiciary toward anti-Semitism is for many Jews in Germany especially alarming, he said.”

The original Wuppertal synagogue was burned down by Germans during the pogrom of Kristallnacht in 1938, but the echoes of the past seem to be growing louder. The German state has seen an upswing in anti-Semitism, as has the country in general.

Anti-Semitism in Germany is on the rise, according to the Central Council of Jews in Germany, as it is in other countries across Europe.

Graumann offered a sobering comment on the situation just before leaving his post in an interview with BILD newspaper in November 2014: “For a while I noticed that anti-Semitism is becoming increasingly public and is no longer hidden. We often receive anti-Semitic messages sent according to name and address. Some people are no longer ashamed and no longer hide their hostility to Jews.

“We have seen … during the war in Gaza, demonstrations of pure primitive hatred against the Jews that broke out again. It is very hard for me to talk about it but, when there are calls in the streets of Germany, ‘Jews to the gas,’ it hurts us greatly,” he added.

Two weeks prior to the publication of Graumann’s interview, the neo-Nazi ‘Die Rechte’ party (The Right) demanded to know where all the Jews live in the city of Dortmund.

‘Die Rechte’ wrote to Mayor Ullrich Sierau through one of its city council members, Dennis Giemsch, seeking to know how many Jews live in the city and in which districts, and their addresses, according to a post on the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism (CFCA).

Giemsch, a full-time computer student, wrote that the information was ‘relevant for our political work.’

The demand was refused and the letter was passed to the Interior Ministry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia – the same state in which the torched synagogue is located – and which is “looking at ways to legally ban the party.”

The political party is the smallest of the far-right groups in Germany, but its numbers are growing, particularly among the young, according to the CFCA.

What A Century Has Wrought

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

A century ago, on August 1, 1914, World War I broke out. The date in the Jewish calendar was Tisha B’Av, the annual fast day marking destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem as well as other Jewish national calamities. No one could have forecast the horrific conflagration that eventually took over 16 million lives and devastated great swaths of Europe.

Officially, hostilities ended on November 11, 1918. But they weren’t yet over. The economic and political malaise the war caused in Russia provoked the 1917 revolution, soon followed by the Bolshevik October Revolution that toppled the czar. The Soviet state took over, a cruel dictatorship that over the next 70-plus years terrorized its citizens and murdered at least 20 million of them, brutally incarcerating and torturing many millions more.

Following World War I, civil war broke out between the Soviet Red Army and pro-czarist forces joined by marauding bands that together massacred as many as 100,000 Jews in Ukraine. The civil war lasted until 1921. Simultaneously, war broke out with newly independent Poland, which fought to gain territory that once belonged to pre-partition Poland back in the 18th century.

After the war, the huge Austro-Hungarian Empire ceased to exist, divided now into several states, with much territory annexed to neighboring states. Vanquished Germany also lost territory to the new Poland, and was deprived of all foreign colonies.

So demoralized were Germans by the combination of ignominious defeat, humiliating peace terms, and economic collapse that they became easy pickings for the scapegoat-seeking ideology of the Nazi party, which blamed the Jews for the world’s problems and would, once in power, unleash a conflagration far more horrific than the First World War.

Meanwhile, World War I had sown chaos throughout the centuries-old Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. Many Jews fled or were forced to evacuate the war-zones; most chassidic courts of Galicia (the Austro-Hungarian part of Poland), for example, now relocated, at least temporarily, to Vienna.

The Russian commander-in-chief, the czar’s uncle, sought a scapegoat for Russian defeats and accused the Jews – who spoke Yiddish, closely related to German – of being a fifth column favoring Germany. Accordingly he expelled millions of Jews who lived close to the war zones – in Lithuania, Latvia, Russian regions of Poland, western White Russia and Ukraine – forcing them to find refuge deeper within Russia.

The evacuations and hostilities wrought havoc on the traditional Torah education system, and boys and young men now often grew up in a spiritual vacuum. Of course, for much of the previous century, the secularist Haskalah movement had already made serious inroads in Jewish communities throughout Eastern Europe, its influence constantly growing. But now the situation was exacerbated. Even after hostilities ended, it was already too late to revive many young people’s loyalty to Yiddishkeit, which was replaced by the spread of attractive secular ideologies.

As the new regime consolidated its hold on the Soviet Union, most public expressions of religion, including Torah schools, were banned. Russia had long been the world’s greatest fortress of Torah Judaism, but now Yiddishkeit was forced underground. Before long, most Jewish youth there were weaned from loyalty to their religion, although the deeply engrained anti-Semitism of their neighbors served to remind them of their Jewish roots.

Meanwhile, most Jews who had emigrated to Western Europe and North America, although not persecuted, cast off religious observance. Even those who remained faithful usually did so by making compromises.

The situation in Germany deteriorated and the Nazis came to power in 1933. Immediately they instituted official anti-Jewish persecution, which intensified year by year. Everyone realized this would soon spread throughout Europe; it was only a question of time.

The Left’s Hatred Of Israel Has A Rich History

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

I wrote Antisemitism and the American Far Left (Cambridge University Press, 2013) in part because of my deep concern about the spread and intensification of anti-Semitism over the past several decades. The far left has contributed significantly to this, though it has, in large part, just been recycling the shibboleths of the far right.

In a previous book, The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower (Cambridge University Press, 2009), I examined anti-Semitism in the American mainstream during the 1930s, showing how American universities helped Nazi Germany enhance its image in the United States. I have been struck by how the far left’s virulent anti-Zionism – laced with anti-Semitism – has been given a platform and increasingly legitimized on contemporary American campuses, just as many American universities proved receptive to Nazi apologetics and anti-Semitic propaganda during the 1930s.

Both the far left and the far right have drawn on anti-Jewish concepts that were long taught and emphasized in Christian theology. For example, the far left, with occasional exceptions, denied Jews’ legitimacy as a people. Like the Christian Bible, which portrays the Temple as permeated with money-changing, the far left characterized Jews as parasites devoted to materialism. It saw Jews as concentrated in a dying social class, the petty bourgeoisie, which relied on illicit methods to squeeze out profits.

In his 1844 essay On the Jewish Question, Karl Marx himself mocked Judaism and Jews in the manner of many Christian theologians, declaring that “money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist.” He claimed that “huckstering” was the Jews’ “worldly religion.” Christian theological antisemitism was so deeply embedded in Western culture that the secular far left never escaped its influence.

Antisemitism and the American Far Left is the first systematic study of the American far left’s role in promoting anti-Semitism (and at times combating it). The book covers the Communist Party (CP) from 1920 onward, tracing all of its often sudden and dramatic shifts in approach and response to anti-Semitism and Israel; the role of Trotskyists; the new left and its black nationalist allies; and the contemporary remnants of the new left.

I analyze the deficiencies of the far left’s explanations of Nazism and the Holocaust, marred by its commitment to a simplistic class analysis. The far left ignored anti-Semitism’s deep roots in Christian theology and culture, claiming that the ruling class merely propagated it to deflect working-class anger and undermine unity among the masses.

The American CP depicted inherently progressive German workers recoiling in shock at the murderous rampage against the Jews on Kristallnacht. During the period of the Molotov-von Ribbentrop Pact (1939-41), which opened the way for the German invasion of Poland, ghettoization, and mass slaughter of Jews, the CP knowingly backed Soviet assistance to Germany’s military and economy, thereby helping the Nazis carry out their war against the Jews.

The Trotskyists, for their part, universalized the Holocaust, denying the uniqueness of the Jewish experience, and claimed a moral equivalence between Allied bombing of the Germans and Nazi atrocities against the Jews. Alarmingly, these views have been absorbed by the mainstream and appear as fact in many leading American history textbooks and newspapers.

My book also explores far left attitudes toward militant Islam; how, for example, the CP’s support for the horrific Arab pogroms against the Jews across Palestine in 1929 set a precedent for the new left’s endorsement of Palestinian terrorism in the late 1960s.

During the 1930s and after World War II, the CP did at times condemn Arab anti-Semitism. The later new leftists, however, products of a school system that gave almost no attention to anti-Semitism or the Holocaust, showed no interest in the persecution of Jews in Arab lands. Like the earlier Communists who claimed there was no anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, these younger radicals, following the lead of the Palestinian guerillas, denied the existence of Arab anti-Semitism in the Middle East.

There Was No Good Hitler

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

In an article recently printed in a pro-Kremlin newspaper, Andranik Migranyan, head of a pro-Russian organization here in Manhattan, suggested that had Hitler stopped in 1939 he would be considered a “good Hitler.”

“One should distinguish the difference between Hitler before 1939 and Hitler after 1939” said Mr. Migranyan who argues that if Hitler had stopped after the “bloodless” reunification of German lands “he would have gone down in the history of his country as a politician of the highest order.”

How Mr. Migranyan could make such a statement despite the fact that by this time Hitler had already organized Dachau (the first concentration camp), Kristallnacht, and carried out dozens of Nuremberg racial laws, is beyond me. My own grandfather, Max Schoenwalter, who lived with his family in Germany, received a letter from the Nazi regime informing him that his paint company was to be liquidated and Judenrein or “Jew free.” That letter was sent to him in January of 1938.

But an even deeper question arises: Why would a Russian, representing the current Russian government make such a statement? The Soviet Union lost more than 20 million people fighting the Germans during the Second World War. Communists despise Fascists. How could Migranyan say this?

The reality is that until Germany attacked Russia, the Soviets were largely unaffected by what the Nazis were doing to Jews and other groups they deemed non-Aryan. It wasn’t until the Nazis invaded Russia that the Soviet Union was impacted by Fascism. And so liquidating people’s business, implementing discriminatory laws, instigating pogroms and sending Jews to concentration camps dosen’t make Hitler a bad person. Only attacking Russia does.

The world becomes a very dangerous place when a leader’s morality is evaluated by how he or she treats one people but not by the way they treat another.  It may seem obvious but a person can only be deemed ethical if they behave civilly and fairly to all people. Hitler tried to demonstrate that only some people deserve to be treated with dignity but the Jewish Biblical teaching that all people are created in the Divine image demands that all humanity, irrespective of race, creed or religion be treated with respect and kindness. And so there was never a “good” Hitler, not even before 1939.

Refugee Who Rescued Husband from Dachau, Dies at 111

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Soon after Kristallnacht, when she was 36, Gisela Kohn Dollinger persuaded the Gestapo to release her husband from the Dachau concentration camp, and the two of them fled Austria for Shanghai, where she almost died of typhoid.

After that, death seemed to forget all about her — until last week, when Dollinger passed away peacefully at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Hospital. She was 111 years old.

Dollinger’s passing came just weeks after Alice Herz-Sommer, a pianist and the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary who was believed to be the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor, died at the comparatively young age of 110.

Known by her friends and family as “Gisa,” Dollinger was the youngest of 15 children. She was born in Baden-be-Wien, a Vienna suburb, on Aug. 30, 1902, according to her relatives.

Widowed in 1993 after more than 60 years of marriage, Dollinger never had children but leaves behind scores of nieces, nephews and their offspring in numerous countries, including the United States, Israel and England.

“To everyone in the family she was always Aunt Gisa or Tante Gisa,” recalled Dr. Mark Horowitz, a grand-nephew who lives in Manhattan.

Dollinger retained her full mental faculties and was able to remain in her New York apartment until the end, although in her final years her vision and hearing deteriorated — a source of frustration since reading, conversation and listening to music were her favorite activities.

Horowitz described his great-aunt as “well educated and well cultured,” a frequent theater and opera-goer who spoke several languages.

Carole Vogel, a great-great-niece who is the unofficial family historian, told how in 2005, at the age of 103, Dollinger returned to Austria for the first time since she and her husband, Bernard, had fled in December 1938.

She had been invited to speak at the rededication of the synagogue her father had helped found in the 1880s and decided to use the trip as an excuse for a family reunion. At least 22 family members came along.

“I don’t know how many 103-year-olds go on trans-Atlantic flights, but she did,” recalled Vogel, who attended the reunion.

During the trip, the centenarian guided family members around Baden-be-Wien, pointing out where family members and other Jews lived.

“She also pointed out the homes of the Nazis and their names,” Vogel said. “She’d say, ‘I went to school with her, and she married a Nazi.’ She had a phenomenal memory up until the end.”

Shortly after Kristallnacht, when her family-owned dry-goods store was destroyed and Bernard was deported to Dachau, Dollinger went to the Gestapo in Vienna — putting herself at risk — and asked for her husband’s release, arguing successfully that since he was not an Austrian citizen (he was Polish), he should not have been included in the roundup.

Some family members have speculated that her persuasion included a bribe, but Dollinger never mentioned that when recounting the story, Vogel said.

“She credited the release of her husband to the fact that someone had advised her to speak to a certain Gestapo officer who was known to be more open to reason and that she showed him a valid Polish passport belonging to Bernard,” Vogel explained, adding that “open to reason” might have meant bribes, because “with Gisa everything could be in the nuance.”

Upon his release, Bernard was told that if he did not leave Austria within two weeks he would be returned to the concentration camp. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation, the couple managed to obtain two first-class tickets on a boat to Japanese-occupied China, one of the few places where Jews could easily obtain visas at the time.

At Last, State-of-the-Art Rabbis Made in Germany

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

The new first government-backed School of Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam, which opened in November, marks the first time Germany has funded the training of Jewish rabbis and cantors, Der Spiegel announced with unhidden delight a week ago.

In the past Germany did train many rabbis and cantors, among other Jews, but that’s only if you use the word “train” as a verb.

It is also the first time Jewish theology has been taught as an academic subject at a public university in Europe, claims Spiegel, but I have no idea where they got that one, because I know personally several professors of Jewish Studies in London –maybe they don’t consider London part of Europe.

The school is “a historical milestone in the training of liberal and conservative rabbis” and “unique both in Germany and Europe,” Potsdam University President Oliver Günther said at the time of the launch.

Coming just after the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the school is a significant step in post-Holocaust Jewish revival, Spiegel points out.

At last, they’re paying the glass bill.

“In Germany, of all places, where the Jewish intelligentsia – which had such a large and irreplaceable share in the intellectual prestige of German academia – was expelled and murdered, Jewish theology is finally being given its proper role,” German President Joachim Gauck said at the launch.

I can’t say a bad word about President Gauck, who’s one of the few remaining friends of Israel. When he was here on a visit in 2012, he said: “Germany should be the very last country to turn away from friendship and solidarity with Israel.”

I just don’t like the idea of Jews flocking back to the death place. Call me a hopeless sentimental.

The school, which will also launch six new professorships, is part of the university’s Faculty of Arts. Its 49 newly enrolled students from Germany, Israel, the United States and Eastern Europe will choose from subjects including liturgy and Jewish music history. Students can undertake bachelor of arts and master of arts studies, and the school plans to offer doctoral studies in the future.

Those who wish to train as rabbis or cantors can opt either for Abraham Geiger College, or for Zacharias Frankel College, which opened two days before the official launch of the school last month, for the conservative stream of Judaism. The school will offer more courses of study in English, too.

Admiel Kosman

Admiel Kosman

Admiel Kosman, the director of Europe’s first state-funded School of Jewish Theology is “heavily influenced by other faiths, including Buddhism and Hinduism. It might come as no surprise, then, that Admiel Kosman’s vision is to encourage interfaith dialogue, and to train rabbis for everyone,” delights Der Spiegel.

Kosman was born in Haifa, Israel to an Orthodox Jewish family. He served in the IDF, studies at the Kotel Yeshiva, studied graphic art and pottery at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, and did his Ph.D. in Talmud at Bar-Ilan University. And then he decided to move to Berlin.

I don’t know why Israelis have been moving to Berlin in such high numbers, but the common perception in Israel of those who do assigns them the roles of either high finance folks or various types of criminals looking to expand their business. The two, you’ll admit, are not very far apart. But, without a doubt, it’s less likely to have Ph.D.s in Talmud make the move back to the land that once ate our flesh.

Admiel Kosman is a gifted man. He writes poetry. He publishes books and articles. He wrote the following poem, which is by no means representative of his overall body of work, but as I’m searching for clues about why a gifted Talmudic scholar from Israel would settle down in Berlin, it’s something:

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/at-last-state-of-the-art-rabbis-made-in-germany/2014/02/27/

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