Haneen Zoabi and the Lessons from Kristallnacht

Haneen Zoabi and the Lessons from Kristallnacht

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guardian letter 14.11.08.
Interior of Fasanenstrasse synagogue in Berlin after Kristallnacht – today mosques and churches are burnt in Israel

Germany and the Jews, Israel and the Palestinians. One Must Compare

what does this remind you of?
We
live in a society that cultivates the feeling, from kindergarten to old age,
that every stranger is an enemy.
Ilana
Hammerman Nov 20, 2015 9:19 PM
Demonised by Zionism – left and right
November
9 marked the 77th anniversary of Kristallnacht – the Night of Broken Glass.
This was the radiant name the Nazis gave their pogrom against Germany’s Jews on
the night of November 9, 1938. The rioters carried out the destruction, abuse
and killing in the heart of cities and towns, in streets and homes, in full
view of ordinary people.
Hating Arabs is not racism; it’s morality
Many
Germans were appalled by the scale of the madness, cruelty and barbarism, but
they didn’t lift a finger. Apart from a few who hid Jewish neighbors in their
homes, or had the courage to help the wounded, most saw what was happening,
heard the cries and turned away. They were frightened. They shut themselves up
at home. They closed their windows.
The Zionist conclusion from the holocaust
A
German woman, Erna Stanger, testified that she looked out her window and saw
three cars standing outside the apartment of her Jewish neighbor, one Mr.
Zeligman. “A man walked up and down the street and ordered people to close
their windows,”
she said. “I moved away from the window, shut it, and after
that I couldn’t see anything. But I heard shouting, apparently from Zeligman.”
Zionists learn the lesson of Kristallnacht – Mavet La’aravim (Death to the Arabs)
This
testimony was one of many collected by Manfred Franke, a German who was just 8
at the time. As an adult, based on his memories and investigations, Franke
reconstructed the events of that night in his hometown. He presented his
results in a book “Mordverläufe,” later dramatized as “Cases of Murder –
November 9, 1938: A Protocol of Fear, Brutality and Death.”
Hebron settlers draw the appropriate conclusions from the Holocaust
That
small town remains a town of ordinary, generally fair-minded people. That too
is documented in the book. The day after the pogrom, for example, Manfred’s
parents forbade him to pick up marbles from the floor of a destroyed shop on
their street. “Don’t take anything,” his mother told him. “We’ll get you other
ones. These belong to the Jew.”
Israeli Jewish neo-Nazis wear the slogans of their European counterparts – ‘Good night, left side’
Haneen
Zoabi, an Arab Knesset member, was invited to speak at a ceremony in Amsterdam
marking the 77th anniversary of that pogrom of civilians against civilians.
Zoabi compared the silent majority in Germany of that era to the silent
majority in Israel today, in light of what Palestinian civilians and
institutions face.
Israel Jewish neo-Nazis
The
majority says nothing

“Most
Germans apparently didn’t support it, but they said nothing. When two churches
and dozens of mosques are set on fire in Israel, and hundreds of Beitar fans
shout ‘death to the Arabs’ at every soccer match, when a family is burned to
death, the majority still keep silent …. Kristallnacht didn’t happen out of the
blue. It was a consequence of what had gone on before,”
she said.

“We
see a similar development in Israel in recent years. Statements that justify
violence against Palestinians, and the majority says nothing. And gradually,
one step at a time, the public comes to accept what it hears day after day.”
Kristallnacht – Burning Synagoge
The
news website Ynet reported Zoabi’s speech under the headline “The speech of
incitement.”
That
night I received a phone call from the television program “Talk of the Day.”
They told me Zoabi’s speech would be an item for discussion on the show the
next morning, and I would be interviewed at the beginning to express my views.
In the four minutes I was awarded to “express my views,” I was asked if I
agreed with Zoabi’s Holocaust comparison.
I
said the comparison wasn’t to the Holocaust, and Zoabi wasn’t the issue. I said
people standing by silently while fellow citizens suffered was an appropriate
topic for discussion.
Damage to Jewish shops in Kristallnact
I
tried to explain why, but when my four minutes were up, the floor was given to
the panel members, who immediately targeted Zoabi. All she looks for are
provocations, that woman from the Marmara protest ship! This time she’s crossed
a red line! Why do they even give her a stage for such slanderous remarks?!
That was just some of it.
Haneen Zoabi after an attack at an election hustings
I
realized I had failed to explain anything. Four minutes weren’t even enough to
explain a simple historical fact: Kristallnacht took place in the midst of the
German civilian population, more than two years before the start of the mass
murder of Europe’s Jews in extermination camps outside the population centers.
And
it goes without saying that I didn’t have time to describe the social and
political processes in the years leading up to that pogrom, to which Zoabi was
undoubtedly referring when she said Kristallnacht didn’t happen out of the
blue. She was right.
Visiting
Dachau
In
those years, communist, liberal and democratic institutions and newspapers were
shut down, and tens of thousands of opponents of the Nazi regime, not
necessarily Jews, were arrested, imprisoned and tortured.
There
was opposition to the Nazis in Germany at the time – and we should remember and
learn from the fact that the Nazis came to power after the democratic November
1932 election in a democratic country. But once in power they put down the
opposition mercilessly. Opponents of the regime, for example, were sent to
Dachau, the first concentration camp, which was built less than two months
after the Nazi-led government was formed.
Just
a few days before my four-minute interview, I visited the memorial at Dachau.
It documents the fate of the political prisoners, and I hoped for an
opportunity to describe their courage and the price they paid for it. But go
speak four minutes about the dissidents and others who had forsaken their
ideals.
Go
describe the photographs etched in your memory of “innocent” people who walked
the streets of German cities past signs that proclaimed “Don’t buy from Jews!”
Try telling anyone that those photos swim back into view when you see slogans
in your own city, Jerusalem, like “Jewish workmanship,” “Don’t buy from Arabs”
or “Death to the Arabs.”

Try
saying that there is no real civil resistance to statements and actions that
keep getting more and more extreme, even though many people feel the pain, and
that no objector in Israel is endangered by the kind of risks that threatened
political dissidents in Germany.
And
especially, go try saying deep things about what you can compare and what you
can’t compare. Only then can you express your painful and disturbing opinion
that the silence in Israeli society about what has been done for decades to the
Arab population in our midst and in our neighborhood, on both sides of the
Green Line, can and should be compared to the silence of the silent majority in
Germany between 1933 and 1938.
We
are overdue in remembering the sentence engraved on a sign at the entrance to
Yad Vashem’s permanent exhibit: “A country is not only what it does but also what
it tolerates.”

Those
words were written by Kurt Tucholsky, the German-Jewish satirical poet and
publicist. Most visitors who pass the sign on their way to the pictures of
horror and death in the ghettos and camps don’t know that the writer left
Germany in 1929, was stripped of his citizenship in 1933 and took his life at
the end of 1935.
That
is, his words could only have been spoken in the early years of the Nazi
regime, when Germany’s laws and actions were still a long way away from the
imprisonment of Jews in ghettos and their transportation to death camps. Kurt
Tucholsky was a leftist and dyed-in-the-wool pacifist. If he were living in
Israel today, he almost certainly would want to apply that sentence here. He’d
want it to be the lesson learned from the National-Socialist chapter of modern
history in general, and of German and Jewish history in particular.
Try
saying all this in four minutes. Then go one step further. Quote Primo Levi, an
Auschwitz survivor: “Many people — many nations — can find themselves holding,
more or less wittingly, that ‘every stranger is an enemy.’”
As
Levi put it, “For the most part this conviction lies deep down like some latent
infection; it betrays itself only in random, disconnected acts, and does not
lie at the base of a system of reason. But when this does come about, when the
unspoken dogma becomes the major premise in a syllogism, then, at the end of
the chain, there is the Lager. Here is the product of a conception of the world
carried rigorously to its logical conclusion; so long as the conception
subsists, the conclusion remains to threaten us. The story of the death camps
should be understood by everyone as a sinister alarm-signal.”
“Everyone,”
he wrote. And who of us can be included among them, we who grew up and live in
a society that cultivates the feeling, from kindergarten to old age, that every
stranger is an enemy? And the greatest enemies are the Arabs who live alongside
us.
If
they had let me say all this, I would have said yes, there is room for
comparison. Some people, rightly, protest that ours is a political-national
conflict that did not exist in Germany.
But
to them it must be said that no conflict has ever justified one nation’s
permanent military and civilian control over millions of people of another
nation, the denial of their human and civil rights, the expropriation of their
land, the demolition of their houses, the trying of hundreds of thousands of
them in military courts and the incarceration of them in detention camps and
prisons.

This
control, which was a covert ideology for many years, is now the product of an
overt, official, nationalist and racist ideology. Yes, there is a basis of
comparison between a society that allows all these things to happen, by deed or
indifference, and a society that could allow the pogrom 77 years ago to happen.
Though we may hope that no concentration camps await in the end.

 

 

 

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