Kristallnacht as a political instrument

The widespread and increasing abuse of Holocaust memory in general is an endemic problem that must be curbed.

Kristallnacht stickers in Germany 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Kristallnacht stickers in Germany 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
This year, as has often occurred in the past, some Kristallnacht memorial meetings in Europe were abused as political instruments rather than serving to memorialize Jewish victims.
Memorial-day manipulation in Germany goes back many years. In 1969 on the date marking Kristallnacht, an anarchist-leftist group painted graffiti on Jewish memorials stating, “Shalom and Napalm” or “El Fatah.” Additionally, a firebomb was thrown at the Jewish community center in Berlin. The leftist groups’ common perception was that “Jews who were expelled by fascism became fascists themselves, who in collaboration with American capitalism, want to annihilate the Palestinian people.”
In 2010, Frankfurt’s then-Christian Democrat mayor, Petra Roth, invited Holocaust survivor Alfred Grosser to deliver the 2010 Kristallnacht speech in Paul’s Church. This German-born French Jewish intellectual promoted reconciliation between Germans and the French.
He is a notorious anti-Israel hate-monger. Grosser used his speech to draw parallels between the conduct of the Nazis and that of Israel.
This year, another Kristallnacht manipulation drew much attention.Jerusalem Post reporter Benjamin Weinthal detailed the criticism of a memorial conference at Berlin Jewish Museum. Jewish anti-Israel hate-monger Brian Klug was invited as the keynote speaker there.
The abuse of Kristallnacht is far from limited to Germany. On November 9, 2003, in Vienna, a memorial meeting was disrupted by members of the Sedunia group, who shouted through loudspeakers. They had to be removed by participants of the meeting. Sedunia is an organization of Muslims and Austrian converts to Islam.
In the same month a leading Dutch inciter against Israel, Gretta Duisenberg – the widow of a former president of Europe’s Central Bank – took part in a demonstration in one of Amsterdam’s main squares. A mock Israeli checkpoint for Palestinians was set up there. Only the participation of Palestinian suicide murderers would have made it more realistic.
A few years ago, the Dutch Jewish community started to organize its own Kristallnacht memorial meetings in Amsterdam. The other, leftwing dominated commemoration, downplays contemporary anti-Semitism and focuses on general racism.
Muslim organizations also participate in it, often to promote the fight against Islamophobia.
They do not speak out against the fact that the greatest violence in any religion in the world comes out of several Muslim societies. This year, at least 65,000 Muslims will be murdered by other Muslims in a number of Arab states. Nor will they mention that the involvement of Muslims in anti-Semitic incidents in Europe is far larger than their proportion of the population. This has again been confirmed in the recently published study by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights.
Muslim bodies and left-wing organizations sometimes play together a major role in this abuse of Kristallnacht.
In Helsingborg, Sweden, the Jewish community refused to participate in the 2012 Kristallnacht memorial meeting. Local paper Helsingborgs Dagblad noted that the community’s leader, Jussi Tyger, said that the memorial meeting was organized by left-wing parties and Muslims, who are known to be the most racist against Jews.
In the Norwegian town of Bergen, the November memorial day is not centered on Kristallnacht, but on the 26th of the month when cargo ship Donau left Oslo with 552 Jews – the great majority of whom were killed in extermination camps. They had been arrested by Norwegian police rather than by German occupiers.
Last year the speakers were leader of the Socialist Left party Audun Lysbakken and former prime minster Kåre Willoch, both notorious anti-Israelis.
This was another expression of abuse of Holocaust memory: extreme anti-Israelis attempting to whitewash their reputations.
The local Jews decided not to participate.
An American-Norwegian Jew who has participated for years in the event with Jewish prayers and an original composition wrote on his Facebook page: “I refuse to participate in the same program as Kåre Willoch. They could not have chosen a more inappropriate speaker at a ceremony commemorating the Holocaust.”
He explained to his American friends in English that Willoch is “extremely anti-Israel, and has made some terrible anti-Semitic comments.”
This year, a young gentile woman pulled out of the Oslo Kristallnacht memorial. She was meant to speak there, but received a death threat earlier that day.
There is also wider abuse. UN watcher Anne Bayefsky wrote: “The Algerian delegate at the 2002 and 2003 United Nations Commission on Human Rights said that Israeli actions repeat Kristallnacht daily.
He also said that Palestinians have numbers put on their arms and wondered how long one was going to wait for the Israelis to commit a massacre like Babi Yar. No state, except for Israel, drew attention to that statement.”
Of a different distorting nature is the regular comparing of potential ecological disaster to the Holocaust.
In 1989, then-Senator from Tennessee Al Gore published an op-ed in The New York Times titled, “An Ecological Kristallnacht. Listen.”
Gore called upon all humankind to heed the warning: “...the evidence is as clear as the sounds of glass shattering in Berlin.”
All these vignettes above have to be seen in a broader context: the widespread and increasing abuse of Holocaust memory in general.The writer is a Board member and former Chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.