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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Kristallnacht’

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:

ADL Accepts Apology from Investor for Kristallnacht Remarks

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

The Anti-Defamation League has accepted the “heartfelt apology” from venture capitalist Thomas Perkins, who likened criticism of the wealthy to Kristallnacht.

“We believe that Mr. Perkins now realizes why his Holocaust comparison was so offensive,” the ADL said in a statement after a long conversation Monday between Perkins and the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman.

“He deeply regrets his words, which he made in the ‘heat of the moment,’ and has assured us that he will make efforts to publicly apologize to all those he offended,” the statement said. “We accept his apology, and now consider the matter closed.”

Perkins, who is based on San Francisco, on Friday wrote a letter published in The Wall Street Journal, drawing parallels between progressives in that city and the Nazis.

“I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich’,” he wrote. “From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent.”

He ended the letter, saying: “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”

In a letter to the Journal written before Perkins had called to apologize, Foxman wrote, “He {Perkins] discredits himself and his argument by leaping to the absurd conclusion that class differences in America are stirring up sentiments similar to the virulent anti-Semitism that led to the deaths of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust. This is historical trivialization of the worst kind imaginable.”

Perkins, 82, a founder of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, also apologized Monday evening in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

“I deeply apologize to you and anyone who has mistaken my reference to Kristallnacht as a sign of overt or latent anti-Semitism. This is not the case,” he said.

But he added that while the letter was “a terrible misjudgment, “I do not regret the message at all. Any time the majority starts to demonize any minority, no matter what it is, it is wrong and dangerous.”

Fundamentalists Disrupt Jewish-Catholic Kristallnacht Remembrance

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Fundamentalist Christians disrupted a joint Jewish-Christian ceremony commemorating Kristallnacht held at the Buenos Aires City´s Metropolitan Cathedral Tuesday night.

The event was organized by the Inter-Religious Dialogue Committee and Bnai Brith Argentina.

When the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Poli, tried to start the ceremony’s liturgy of commemoration, the fundamentalist group interrupted the ceremony, praying in loud voices and distributing brochures against “the presence of fake gods at our main Cathedral.”

After a standoff that lasted several minutes, police officials arrived at the Cathedral. The demonstrators left at the request of Father Fernando Gianetti, who made the request in the name of Poli, successor to Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, who now is Pope Francis.

Julio Schlosser, president of DAIA, Argentina’s Jewish political umbrella, told JTA of the incident that “Nazi hordes spread poison on the victims of the Holocaust.”

Pope Francis Calls Jews ‘Big Brothers,’ But It Ain’t a Compliment

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

[Editor's Note: It's come to our attention that not everyone read or understood the fourth paragraph of this article, so here is a summary of that paragraph:

The Pope used theologically significant and degrading terminology to describe Christianity's relationship with Judaism. The Elder Brother is always the castoff, always the evil one, and always replaced by the younger brother. It wasn't an off-the-cuff statement of friendship, it was a religious and ideological attack on Jews and Judaism as illegitimate and evil and having been replaced by the "younger brother" - the central component of their "Replacement Theology".

Unfortunately, not enough Jewish media outlets understood this insult, and as a result, misunderstood his carefully chosen words.

This also follows in the footsteps of the very public snub of the Jewish State's Prime Minister Netanyahu during his visit to Rome, right after the Pope found the time to meet with PA Prime Minister Abbas.]

Pope Francis I has called the Jewish people the “big brothers” of the Roman Catholics, on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), the 1938 looting and violence against German Jews and their businesses that is considered the start of the Holocaust atrocities that would follow against European Jews.

Ah, the mischievous things brothers do to each other…

“We renew our closeness and solidarity to the Jewish people, our big brothers, and pray to God that the memory of the past and of the sins of the past helps us to be always vigilant against every form of hate and intolerance,” Francis told worshipers outside of St. Peter’s Square during his Sunday mass, according to the European Jewish Press.

Of course, to understand the full theological meaning of the pope’s “compliment,” kindly refer to your Jewish Bible, where the younger brother always gets the inheritance, as in Jacob vs. Eisav, David vs. his older brothers, Shlomo vs. his older brother Adoniah, etc. The older brother is always dark, brooding, jealous, and not the one favored by God.

It’s heartbreaking to see this papal putdown being copied verbatim and distributed without a comment by so many Jewish media outlets. Perhaps they should use a different questionnaire when they hire new Jewish journalism school graduates.

We’re nobody’s brothers. We’re God’s favorite children without any extra-familial affiliations. I accept the fact that the current pope is not a blood thirsty enemy of our nation like so many of his predecessors, but when he, too, spits on us, it’s not rain.

Incidentally, we have more in common with Muslims than we do with Christians; Jewish law permits Jews to enter a mosque… but not a church.

To insist that we have some kind of bond with religious Christians because of similar core values, is to propagate a terrible lie. Christians who base their views on what they call the Old Testament, don’t view Mosaic law as an abiding legal text. The Church has abolished Torah law as part of its attempt to abolish the very idea of Jewish nationhood.

More on that in my article that was published here last year: There’s No Such Thing as Judeo-Christian Values.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/pope-francis-calls-jews-big-brothers-but-it-aint-a-compliment/2013/11/12/

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