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November 07, 2003 - Image 39

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-11-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Kristallnacht Remembered

jihad (holy war), and with suicide
actions to liberate their country from
the occupiers.
Arafat has made promises. The
question to ask now is, which prom-
ises is he trying to fulfill? The prom-
ises he makes to the West are empty;
the ones he makes in Arabic to his
people are the ones that he really pays
attention to.
It has been eight years this week
since Rabin was assassinated. Ten years
have passed since Rabin and Arafat
shook hands and promised to work
toward peace.

Learning From Egypt

It is coming up on 26 years (on Nov.
19) since Anwar Sadat's "Egyptian
One" plane landed in Israel.
Sadat's promise to his country, made
passionately to his people in Arabic,
was unambiguous. "Israel would be
astonished when they hear me say this.
But I say it. I am ready to go even to
their home ... to the Knesset and dis-
cuss peace with them if need be."
It should be noted that Sadat's part-
ner was Israeli Prime Minister
Menachem Begin who, at the time,
was considered the least likely candi-
date to engage in peacemaking with
Egypt.
These brave leaders promised to
work for peace. Sadat promised and
kept his promise to establish rela-
tions with the State of Israel. Begin
promised to return the Sinai, even if
it meant removing established
Jewish settlements, as long as Egypt
kept its promises.
The two countries continue to
enjoy peace. Even if it is a colder
peace than in years past, it endures.
What has endured with Arafat is
not peace. What endures with the
Palestinian leadership are broken
promises. If Israel is to act like a
Begin, like a Rabin, it needs a part-
_
ner to act like a Sadat.
Israel needs a partner to act on the
promises made. It needs a
Palestinian leader who, like Sadat, is
willing to say, in Arabic, that the ter-
ror will end, that the children of
Palestine will be taught co-existence
instead of hatred, and that two states
will live in peace side by side.
Israel doesn't need to be friends
with Palestine. It needs security for its
citizens. It needs its neighbors, like
Egypt, and Jordan, to respect its sov-
ereignty.
Yasser Arafat promises his people
that they will get the whole land of
Israel. Well, he can't have it.



Council, the umbrella group for the
sultations," and he extended
New York City
four largest Jewish defense organiza-
the vis-
ixty-five years ago
tions, met in New York City to
itors'
visas
of
the
approxi-
this week, Nazi
decide their response to the Nazi
mately
12,000
German
storm troopers car-
violence.
Jewish refugees who were
ried out the infa-
Worried about stirring up domes-
then in the United States.
mous Kristallnacht pogrom
But at the same time, FDR tic anti-Semitism, they resolved
against the Jews of Germany.
announced that liberalization "that there should be no parades,
On Nov. 9 and 10, 1938,
public demonstrations or protests by
about 100 Jews were mur-
DR. RAFAEL of America's tight immigra-
Jews"
and that although "on human-
tion
quotas
was
"not
in
con-
dered and 30,000 more were
MEDOFF
itarian
grounds, mass immigration
Christian
templation."
The
sent to concentration camps.
Special
of
German
Jews could not be
echoed
Science
Monitor
Nearly 200 synagogues were
Commentary
opposed ... at least for the time
Roosevelt's position, telling
burned down. More than
being, nothing should be done with
its readers that prayer, not
7,000 Jewish-owned busi-
regard to this matter."
more immigration, was the best
nesses were destroyed.
When FDR asked his closest
The vast amount of shattered glass response to the persecution of
Jewish
adviser, Samuel Rosenman —
German
Jewry.
from the windows of Jewish homes
a prominent member of the
In the wake of Kristallnacht,
and shops gave the rampage its
American Jewish Committee — if
humanitarian-minded members of
name, Crystal Night, or Night of
more Jewish refugees should be
Congress introduced legislation to
the Broken Glass.
allowed to enter the U.S. in the
aid German Jewry. A bill sponsored
During the previous five years,
wake of Kristallnacht, Rosenman
Germany's Jews had been stripped of by Sen. Robert F. Wagner, D-N.Y.,
opposed such a move because "it
and Rep. Edith Rogers, R-Mass.,
their legal rights and subjected to
would
create a Jewish problem in
proposed
the
admission
of
20,000
occasional outbursts of violence, but
German refugee children outside the the U.S."
nothing comparable to the systemat-
Four months before Kristallnacht,
quotas.
ic, nationwide devastation of
the Roosevelt administration had
Nativist and isolationist groups
Kristallnacht.
organized a conference in Evian,
vociferously opposed the Wagner-
Hitler's persecution of the Jews
France, which brought together del-
Rogers bill. Typical of their perspec-
assumed a new and terrifying char-
egates from 32 countries to discuss
tive was a remark by FDR's cousin,
acter in the autumn of 1938. Now,
the Jewish refugee problem. But the
Laura
Delano
Houghteling,
who
was
the fuhrer awaited the world's
delegates reaffirmed their unwilling-
response, to see whether there would the wife of the U.S. commissioner
ness to liberalize their immigration
of immigration. She warned that
be any serious international opposi-
quotas, and the British refused to
"20,000 charming children would
tion to his anti-Jewish policies.
even discuss Palestine as a possible
all too soon grow into 20,000 ugly
The American public was fully
haven.
adults."
informed regarding the events in
Some critics later pointed out that
An appeal to FDR by First Lady
Germany. Detailed reports about
"Evian"
was "Naive" spelled back-
Eleanor
Roosevelt
for
his
support
of
Kristallnacht appeared repeatedly on
wards. The real problem was not
the bill fell on deaf ears. And an
the front pages of the nation's news-
naivete, but calculated indifference;
papers during the days following the inquiry by a congresswoman as to
the U.S. administration had con-
the president's position was returned
pogrom.
sciously convened the gathering to
to FDR's secretary marked, "File No
However, some newspapers had
give the impression that the free
action FDR."
difficulty acknowledging that the
world
was taking action, when it
Mindful of polls showing most
Nazis were motivated by hatred of
was
doing
nothing of the sort.
Americans
opposed
to
more
immi-
Jews. A New York Times editorial
One German newspaper's com-
gration, Roosevelt preferred to fol-
argued that the Hitler regime's real
ment on Evian stands out: "We can
low public opinion rather than lead
motive was financial — that the
see that one likes to pity the Jews ...
it. Without his support, the
purpose of the violence was to
but no state is prepared to ... accept
Wagner-Rogers bill was buried in
"make a profit for itself out of legal-
a few thousand Jews. Thus the con-
committee.
ized loot." Likewise, the Baltimore
ference serves to justify Germany's
the
Ironically, when Pets Magazine
Sun characterized the pogrom as a
policy against Jewry."
following
year
launched
a
campaign
"money collecting enterprise.
Kristallnacht did not fundamen-
to have Americans take in pure-bred
tally alter the international commu-
British puppies so they would not
FDR Weighs In
nity's response to Hitler. There were
be harmed by German bombing
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
raids, the magazine was flooded with many verbal condemnations, but no
responded to Kristallnacht with a
economic sanctions against Nazi
several thousand offers of haven for
sharp verbal condemnation and two
Germany, no severing of diplomatic
the dogs.
gestures. He recalled the U.S.
relations, no easing of immigration
ambassador from Germany for "con-
quotas, not even a complete opening
Jewish Response
of the gates to the Jews' own ancient
homeland.
American
Jewish
organizations
were
Dr. Rafael Medoff is director of the
The free world's muted reaction to
David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust reluctant to challenge either the
the Kristallnacht pogrom foreshad-
Studies, which focuses on issues related to administration's policy or the pre-
owed the terrible silence with which
vailing public mood.
America's response to the Holocaust. His
it would greet the Nazis' Final
Three days after Kristallnacht,
e-mail address is
Solution.

representatives
of
the
General
Jewish
rafaelmeodoPaoLcorn

"

11! 7
2003

39

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