81 years since Kristallnacht

It was the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht yesterday, the massive pogrom against the Jews organized by the Nazi regime in Germany in 1938, signalling the beginning of the Shoah, the planned genocide of the Jews. There had in fact been many anti-Jewish laws enacted over the years since Hitler came to power in 1933, but Kristallnacht marked a new level of violence.

Sadly, every year I find that I write about the same subject – the fact that despite the Shoah, despite the evidence in front of our eyes of what such Jew-hatred leads to, antisemitism, aka Jew-hatred, is constantly rising around the world. Yet when Jews, or their supporters, call attention to this prejudice, they are at best ignored and at worst villified and attacked, sometimes physically, for daring to call this hatred out and for challenging the hateful bigots.

The British Labour Party is a case in point. I have almost stopped documenting the occurrences of antisemitism because it would become a full time job plus overtime. It is quite mind-boggling how low they can go, and yet, as I said above, when the party members are called out over their bigotry, they either deny it, or they “gaslight” the Jews by claiming they have been misunderstood, or they go on the attack and say the Jews brought it upon themselves for opposing their sainted “Dear Leader” Jeremy. The bigotry is also very often disguised as “anti-Zionism” as if hating the one Jewish country in the world is not a cover for Jew-hatred.

For example here is the resignation letter (finally!) of one of the antisemites-in-chief of the Labour Party, Chris Williamson. Although he is resigning because he was accused of antisemitism, his letter includes several antisemitic tropes. He just can’t help himself!

The British Jewish community feel the situation has become so bad that even senior Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain (not a right-wing conservative by any stretch of the imagination!) published a letter urging his congregants to vote “anybody but Labour”:

The Maidenhead synagogue minister revealed he had sent the letter to 823 families who are members of the Berkshire shul across 16 different constituencies suggesting that “a Corbyn-led government would pose a danger to Jewish life as we know it.”

Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Romain

Rabbi Romain – author of The Jews of England and former chair of the Movement for Reform Judaism –said he had decided to send out the letter on Wednesday evening despite receiving a negative reaction from rabbinic colleagues who had said he should not be party political.

He argued that more direct action was needed ahead of the December 12 General Election – a move he said was part of Jewish values.

His letter is a departure from an understanding that rabbis should not suggest to people how they should vote.

When the election was announced, the Board of Deputies said it would be producing its “Jewish manifesto” as it does for every poll but stressed: “As always, we will make no recommendation on how individual Jews should vote, as we trust that members of our community are fully able to make for themselves the decision about which parties and candidates best represent their interests.”

In his letter, Rabbi Romain wrote: “I should stress that the problem is not the Labour Party itself, which has a long record of fighting discrimination and prejudice, but the problem is Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn-led Labour, has at best, let antisemitism arise within its ranks, or at worst, has encouraged it.

“This has never happened under any previous Labour leader, whether under Tony Blair on the right, Neil Kinnock in the centre or Michael Foot on the left, so the finger of responsibility really does seem to point to Jeremy Corbyn.

“I am therefore suggesting we should each put aside all other considerations and vote for whichever party is most likely to defeat Labour in whatever constituency we are in – even if we would never normally vote for that party.”

The Jewish Chronicle itself, usually a bastion of even-handed apolitical opinion, published an open letter instead of an editorial, addressed “to all our fellow British citizens” – meaning all the non-Jewish British citizens, explaining the danger of a Corbyn premiership:

The vast majority of British Jews consider Jeremy Corbyn to be an antisemite. In the most recent poll, last month, the figure was 87 per cent.

Putting oneself in the shoes of another person, or another group, can be difficult. But we believe it is important — and urgent — that you do that. Perhaps the fact that nearly half (47 per cent) of the Jewish community said in that same poll that they would “seriously consider” emigrating if Mr Corbyn wins on December 12 will give you an indication of what it feels like to be a British Jew at a time when the official opposition is led by a man widely held to be an antisemite.

There is racism on all sides of politics and it must be called out wherever it is found. History has forced our community to be able to spot extremism as it emerges — and Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader in 2015 is one such example.

Throughout his career, he has allied with and supported antisemites such as Paul Eisen, Stephen Sizer and Raed Salah. He has described organisations like Hamas, whose founding charter commits it to the extermination of every Jew on the planet, as his “friends”. He has laid a wreath to honour terrorists who have murdered Jews. He has insulted “Zionists” — the word used by antisemites when they mean “Jew” because they think it allows them to get away with it — as lacking understanding of “English irony”.

Instead of listening to and learning from mainstream Jewish bodies such as the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council, Mr Corbyn has treated them and their recommendations with contempt — and given support to fringe organisations set up solely to deny the existence of Labour antisemitism.

Is it any wonder Jews worry about the prospect of Mr Corbyn as prime minister?

In an extraordinary turn of events, two Labour MPs, Ian Austin and Tom Watson, resigned and told their supporters they should vote in the upcoming general election in December for Tory leader Boris Johnson!

It’s hard to imagine two hardier Labour loyalists than Ian Austin and Tom Watson. They were part of a crack squad who plotted Gordon Brown’s route to No 10, both fervently committed to their leader and party.

After Jeremy Corbyn took the reins, other MPs rather hoped that the team who so successfully dispatched Tony Blair might repeat their trick. They tried. But with the election weeks away, both have had to admit that they failed. They have now had to ask themselves whether they’d still vote Labour, and have resolved the dilemma in spectacularly different ways.

Both have always seen Corbyn as a tool of the hard Left, whose combination of Bolivarian socialism and IRA sympathy would be electorally toxic in normal political times. They fully expected him to fail in the last election, but when he didn’t they had to decide what to do next time.

Stay and fight, Watson urged colleagues: why hand the party over to the fanatics? Naive, Austin (eventually) concluded: the Corbynites have won. To stay is to serve them, to become a useful idiot in their diabolical project.

The Tories were astonished to have Austin’s endorsement, especially as he didn’t even try to fish for any kind of favours beforehand. Sajid Javid’s speech today – promising an extra £100 billion of spending over five years – is all aimed at Labour seats. But Austin has now given them an argument more potent than any promise from a Treasury dossier: that a victory for Corbynites would be a calamity for the Labour movement and the country. And as a consequence, traditional, patriotic Labour voters need to vote for Boris Johnson next month.

The Labour Party may be the worst example of institutionalized antisemitism prevalent in Europe at the moment but lest we think the rest of Europe loves its Jews, think again. Antisemitism is on the rise all over Europe, and not only there. The Jew haters cannot bear us whether alive or dead. Cemetery desecration is a “thing” nowadays, and in the past few months Jewish cemeteries have been desecrated and gravestones destroyed in Denmark, (80 gravestones vandalized), in Omaha, Nebraska in the US  (75 gravestones toppled), in the city of Strand in South Africa, and in the Estonian capital of Talinn, to name just a few.

Beyond politics and cemeteries, Jewish life is becoming extremely difficult for students on campus worldwide, with the “social justice warriors” and “intersectionalism” who demand justice and equality for everyone except for Jews, particularly Zionist Jews. It is therefore no surprise that one of the major pro-Palestinian (read: Jew-hating and Israel-hating) organizations on campus, Students for Justice in Palestine, has been declared an “antisemitic force on campus” at Harvard (via Elder of Ziyon):

The National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) is an “antisemitic force on campus,” according to a new 96-page report about the organization.


A swipe at the bigotry of the SJP

The document, published by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) in advance of NSJP’s annual conference being held November 1-3, tracks the history of the organization and highlights how NSJP “promotes antisemitic rhetoric” and is “associated [with] violence and terror, ideologically and politically.”

The study, titled “National Students for Justice in Palestine and the Promotion of Hate and Antisemitism on the University Campus: The Threat to Academic Freedom,” is authored by Charles Asher Small, David Patterson and Glen Feder.

“For centuries, the most violent antisemitic attacks on Jews, including expulsions and pogroms, were rationalized by a need to bring justice to other groups,” said ISGAP chairman Natan Sharansky. “Today, the new antisemitism is brought to the world of academia under the pretext of justice for Palestinians.”

In the report’s foreword, Sharansky says that demonization, delegitimization and double standards against Jews are now being applied to the Jewish collective in the State of Israel.

“All those who value both justice and academic freedom should be resistant to it,” he said.

The report cites dozens of incidents, mainly on social networks, in which traditional antisemitic tropes are used by NSJP local chapters.

In 2017, for example, Students Supporting Israel at City College in NY described on their Facebook page a reaction by SJP members to the visit of Dani Dayan, the Consul General of Israel in New York. According to the post, “Comparisons to Hitler and Nazis were hurled by students… Rather than listening to what the speaker had to say, they put their antisemitic hate on blast, demonizing the Jewish State of Israel and all who would support it.”

Harvard’s NSJP chapter, the Palestine Solidarity Committee, posted on their Facebook page in 2012 that “Zionism is racism. Women who immigrated from Ethiopia eight years ago say there were told they would not be allowed into Israel unless they agreed to be injected with the long-acting birth control drug Depo Provera, according to an investigative report aired yesterday on Israel Educational Television.”

Stony Brook University’s SJP also had multiple inflammatory posts, including one noting that “together, we can create a domino effect to ensure Zionism is an extinct ideology.”

“Would university administrators permit the KKK to have a national conference on campus?” asked Small, who is also executive director of ISGAP. “They are really poisoning the atmosphere.”

Read the whole sorry story at the link.

But let us return to the original inspiration for this sad post. Here is a short video on the moral failure of the world on Kristallnacht.


As always I would refer you to my Family History pages, and in particular the account written by my father Oskar Prager of his experiences as a 9 year old boy in Fuerth, Germany, on Kristallnacht.

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5 Responses to 81 years since Kristallnacht

  1. Reality says:

    Basically after 80 years nothing has changed.

    • anneinpt says:

      Very little. The hatred is still there. It’s just not fashionable any more to say so in public. And as long as Jeremy Corbyn is not in power antisemitism is not at the government level. Let’s pray he is defeated in the elections.

  2. Pingback: 81 years since Kristallnacht – 24/6 Magazine

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