Kristallnacht 5765
Kristallnacht 5765

Today we celebrate 66 years of life after the ravages of Kristallnacht. We have marked this day on our own calendars year after year as the world mostly ignores the date.
Truly, Kristallnacht was a signal event in the war perpetrated by the Nazis against humanity, decency, and the Jewish people. Surely this night of debauchery was a milestone in that war. November 9th and 10th 1938 will always be remembered, at least by the Jews. We were the victims of that evil. More than that, though, we were the specific and immediate target of that evil. Kristallnacht was not the beginning of the "final solution" by any means, but in some important ways it may have been the critical test case.
Kristallnacht proved to the Nazi regime that they were right about two most important factors which might have interfered with the smooth perpetration of their nefarious plans. Sadly, after 66 long years, little has changed with regard to these two factors. We have learned little, it seems, in all these years.
The more visible of these two factors is that the masses can be expected to be docile and complicit in most any government sponsored act no matter how heinous, as long as the groundwork is properly prepared.
Over the years much has been said about how the German people were hijacked into complicity to the evils of the Shoah. Some people have contended that there was a natural inclination toward anti-Semitism within the German people. Some people have contended that the Teutonic traditions of leadership were such that the German people would naturally follow a strong leadership down any path, good or bad. In either, or any, case, Kristallnacht proved that a nationwide "spontaneous demonstration" could be perpetrated with great success. The mobs showed up and destroyed Jewish homes, businesses, and Synagogues on cue. The police and firemen stood by and followed the orders to "only intervene to protect German property." The "test" came off without a hitch.
The second, more subtle factor is the complicity, (or perhaps, malleability), of the press. This factor is even more important to both Kristallnacht and to the years of the Shoah which followed Kristallnacht. There was a lack of reporting and a burial of stories about Kristallnacht in the world press. This proved to the Nazis that the plan to build numerous Concentration Camps and to slaughter not only the Six Million Jews, but the millions of others including, Gypsies, Dwarfs, mentally and physically impaired Germans, and Communists, could be carried out in virtual secrecy.
Today much has changed and little has changed with regard to the press and the reporting of news. The Internet has destroyed the monopoly of the traditional news sources, but has not destroyed their more subtle power to shape discussion. We can find out "the Truth" about most events on the Internet. We can even find multiple Truths about most events. Still, we find ourselves bound in a very subtle way to some of the Press' readings of world events.
Of specific concern to me are the "accepted" definitions regarding the "Arab War against Israel" in prejudicial terms. Some of these terms you will agree with, and some might surprise you. The first, of course, is the definition of the parties to the War. Even as the press acknowledges the wider scope of the conflict, reporting about how the Mullahs throughout the world call for Jihad against the "Zionists and their allies," the press still considers the conflict to be between the [fictional] Palestinian People and the Israelis. Most of the world's press still wrongly calls YeShA "occupied territories." The common misnaming of participants in skirmishes is so overwhelming that I cannot catalog all the "nice" names for terrorists, and the "offensive" names for the Israelis defending their homes and lives.
Today, though, on the 66th anniversary of Kristallnacht, I was impressed by a reporter on television calling the Arab War Against Israel "the most volatile region in the World." This conflict has been something of "an active volcano" for over a century. Throughout the years, our beloved land has been defined as a "powder keg" in every way possible. Yet, during those years the Hutus and the Tutsis killed Millions; the imploding Yugoslavia broke out in wars killing at least hundreds of thousands; the Korean conflict, Gulf War I and Gulf War II were fought, and; the government of Sudan continues to wage war against a large portion of their population. Compared to all that and more which I have not mentioned, the Arab War Against Israel is a candle.
In some ways, a candle is a good analogy. In some ways Israel is a Yahrzeit candle to all who have gone before us. On this day, that candle burns brighter in the Holy Memory of the Jewish People for the victims of Kristallnacht.

May the Memory of our departed serve as a blessing.

2004 Rabbi Haim Cassorla

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Rabbi Haim Cassorla

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