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
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
To contact Rabbi Haim Cassorla, please send emails to: Rabbi