By Susan Warner, Frontpagemag—
When Israel declared its independence from Britain in 1948, it was an exuberant nation with a population beleaguered by the tragic murder of 6 million relatives, friends and fellow Jews in the Shoah.
In 1948, many of the nascent country’s newest citizens’ recent memories were of years of brutal deprivation, murder, torture, death camps. For some survivors, there were the years of marking time in displaced persons camps.
“Never Again” became the rallying cry of Jews around the world in the following decades, and the cry was especially poignant as Israel built a new nation with fresh dreams out of the ashes of that devastating holocaust. As they built a nation for the future, they also constructed museums of memories to remind them of their most desperate times.
The memory of Kristallnacht is one such time. Kristallnacht, known as the “night of broken glass,” which took place November 9th and 10th 78 years ago, stands as a day of infamy in the Jewish world. This date in 1938 marked the beginning of the end of life for two-thirds of all European Jews — a genocide which has no equal at anytime or anywhere in world history.
Jews throughout the world today remember the Shoah. Holocaust memorials dot cities and towns of Europe and America. The casual tourist to Europe can visit the refurbished remains of German and Polish death camps — Dachau, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and others —all stark reminders of this ugly page of history.
On the outside of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, there is a plaque with a quote from then General President Dwight D. Eisenhower when his army liberated the Ohrdruf camp, a sub camp of Buchenwald, in 1945. The quote reads:
“The things I saw beggar description…The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering…I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations to propaganda.”
The Kristallnacht devastation in 1938 Germany was just a hint of Hitler’s goal— the world would not experience a final solution until after the Wanasee Conference in 1942. From Hitler’s election in 1933 until 1942, the grand plan— the annihilation of the Jewish people— was simply a gleam in Hitler’s eye, so to speak.
Today, the passing of the last of the Holocaust survivors, and with them the memories of this devastating history, the cry “never again” begins to echo more like a diluted refrain from a vague historical past than a rallying cry against what is becoming an imminent “21st century threat.”
The current rise of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments bears evidence of Eisenhower’s worst fears seven decades ago. Holocaust deniers and historical revisionists abound, but they account for only one small chapter in the unfolding tale of the revival of Jew hatred.
Alarming are the stories of blatantly anti-Semitic activities held regularly on university and college campuses in the United States, Europe, South Africa and even Israel.
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a ring leader of the anti-Jewish, hate-Israel clubs on campus, but it is not the only player: Muslim Student Association, BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions), Israel Apartheid Week, Kairos Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, European Jews for a Just Peace, all characteristically blame Israel alone for the Middle East conflict and for a so-called “genocide” of the Palestinians.
The most popular cry from many of these self-proclaimed “peace” groups is for Israel to agree with the Palestinian Authority’s demand to the return of 4 million “refugees” from the 1948 War of Independence. The implementation of this twisted idea would effectively overrun Israel as a Jewish state. That idea, remember, was also expressed in Hitler’s “grand plan”— annihilation of the Jewish people.
For BDS, Kairos Palestine, SJP and others, a one state (Palestinian, Jew- free) solution is their grand plan.
J Street, and other Jewish “peace” groups are among Israel’s most virulent campus-based accusers, projecting themselves as a “pro-Israel,” “pro-peace” and “two-state” groups while brashly aligning with Israel’s enemies.
In an article for The Tower magazine, San Diego State University journalism student Anthony Berteaux, tells a frightening and perhaps prophetic story of two progressive Jewish students who attended the University of California, Berkeley’s Student Association’s “oldest and largest conference,” the Students of Color Conference (SOCC).
According to the report, “the SOCC has maintained a reputation for 27 years as being a ‘safe space’ where students of color, and white progressive allies, can address and discuss issues of structural and cultural inequality on college campuses.”
While at the conference our two unsuspecting progressive activist students, Arielle Mokhtarzadeh and Ben Rosenberg, discover they are in the wrong place; yes this is the place for LGTB advocates, black activists, Muslims and activists of every flavor — a safe space for everyone except… Jews.
Arielle and Ben were in for a rude awakening when one session, entitled “Existence is Resistance,” sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), advanced their case against Israel which eventually morphed into a name calling case against Israel and Jews.
“It was, ironically, in a safe space intended to protect students from discrimination and bigotry in which their Jewish identity was marginalized, ostracized, and politicized. And it was the progressive students and students of color—often themselves targets of hate, bigotry, and discrimination—who were the propagators of ancient hatreds against the Jewish people,” asserted Berteaux.
Apartheid Week events are the highlight of the spring semester on many university campuses each year; Israeli Apartheid Week takes place across more than 150 universities and cities. Panels and film screenings build support for the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Both of these streams of anti-Jewish university activism focus more on denigrating Israel than on Jewish people per se. In the final analysis, however, it is Israel and all Jews lined up in their crosshairs.
Even in the Holy Land itself, the Bethlehem Bible College sponsors the biennial Christ at the Checkpoint Conference. This event which attracts leaders from around the world, is one example of how evangelical Christians have latched onto the Palestinian movement. Christ at the Checkpoint has gained a reputation for promoting the Palestinian cause less by solving the conflict and more by using their Christian academic platform to accuse, denigrate and demonize Israel.
More recently, an op-ed by Susan Tuchman and Morton Klein of Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) wrote of an incident at the University of Michigan where a group calling themselves SAFE (Students Allied for Freedom and Equality) erected a so-called “Apartheid Wall,” during Rosh Hashanah celebrations.
Over 1100 students signed a complaint about the display mocking Israeli checkpoints. They urged University President Mark Schlissel to speak out to acknowledge how hurtful and exclusionary this act was to the Jewish community. But he has not spoken out. In his response to a letter from ZOA, he claimed there was nothing overtly anti-Jewish about the demonstration.
University administrators have turned a blind eye to student-led conferences, demonstrations and rallies espousing anti-Semitic themes. Even when some of these events have become violent, administrators have been silent. On some campuses, Jewish students are concerned for their lives. By minimizing these offenses, university administrators are silently condoning violence directed at Jews. University administrators and boards seem loath to put a stop to even the most offensive of these events, offering lame excuses for their cowardice.
The inevitable question is: how long will it be before these random threats against the Jews become official university or even national policy? Americans think it can’t happen here, but perhaps it is already underway.
The Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938 marked the destruction of synagogues and Jewish businesses throughout Germany and Austria. More than 100 Jews were murdered. Just four years later the “final solution” was adopted at Wanasee. The timeline is stunning.
Today evidence is all around us that there is a groundswell of anti-Semitism on college campuses. History informs us that ancient plots against the Jewish people seem to have no end.
The chant on the American college campus “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” does not leave much room for a “holocaust-never again” scenario. Students chant their Palestinian liberation slogans as if they were mere football cheers rather than what they are— a call to annihilate Israel as a Jewish state.