75 Years after Kristallnacht, Anti-Semitism Still Haunts

Antisemitism remains a problem in the United States today.

Americans have long needed a wake-up call about pernicious anti-Semitism that still poisons our society – and last week we got one.

On the eve of the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht – the violent anti-Jewish pogroms that took place in Germany on November 9 and 10, 1938 – the New York Times published a chilling account of pervasive anti-Semitism in Pine Bush Central School District, located in a rural area 90 miles north of New York City.

Drawing on 3,500 pages of deposition testimony in a lawsuit against the district filed by three Jewish families, reporter Benjamin Weiser chronicles years of harassment and intimidation directed at Jewish students.

Swastikas everywhere, Jewish kids attacked, Nazi salutes on school buses, anti-Jewish slurs – and much more – according to Jewish students and parents.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was so disturbed after reading the article that he directed the New York State Police and the State Division of Human Rights to investigate.

The legal system will determine the culpability of schools officials (who admit to some of the incidents, but claim they did what they could to address the issue). But a community where young people regularly carve swastikas with “die Jew” messages on school property clearly has a big problem.

Anti-Semitism may not rise to this level in many other school districts (or at least one hopes not), but ugly incidents directed at Jews are not uncommon in some of the school districts I have visited over the past two decades. Prejudice against Jews is especially evident in rural communities like Pine Bush where Jewish families are a small minority.

Only 12 percent of Americans admit to strong anti-Semitic views (down from 15 percent in 2011), according to a survey of attitudes toward Jews released last month by the Anti-Defamation League.

But the scope and intensity of anti-Jewish sentiment is perhaps better measured by the ten of thousands of web sites spewing hatred for Jews. And by the fact that in 2011 (the most recent year reported by the FBI) 62% of the 1,318 hate crimes in the U.S. motivated by religious bias were directed at Jews.

In Europe, the situation is even worse. In a recent poll conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, nearly one fourth of Jewish respondents said they were discriminated against on the grounds of religion or ethnic background in the 12 months preceding the survey.

Combating anti-Semitism requires more than disciplining a few students caught in the act of harassing others, as Pine Bush officials claim they did. It takes a commitment to educate all students – including those from homes with anti-Semitic parents – in the truth about Judaism and Jews.

And it takes a commitment by all members of the school community to create and sustain a caring school culture where students learn to respect one another across religious and ethnic differences. (To learn how, visit www.character.org)

Lest we forget, Kristallnacht was a defining moment in the Nazi campaign against the Jews. Instigated by Nazi party officials, Storm Troopers and Hitler Youth, the destruction of Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues set the stage for the systematic murder of Jews in the Holocaust.

On that terrible night of broken glass 75 years ago, many Germans disturbed by the violence and hate looked the other way – remaining silent when speaking up could have still made a difference.

That’s why “never again” must include taking alarm at warning signs of ignorance and hate, especially among young people. Schools must be the solution, not part of the problem.

Image courtesy of Mike Licht.

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  • GerriM

    This is abhorrent. Shame on such backward people.

  • jsg8

    So it never occurred to the jews to move? Or to apologize for murdering Jesus?

  • larryclyons

    How utterly ignorant. Please take your anti-semitism and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine, you know the place where you typically keep your head.

  • larryclyons

    BTW you don’t know your bible very well do you. It was a Roman who gave the order for your Christ to be Crucified. It was Roman soldiers who carried it out. It was a Roman soldier who thrust a spear into your Christ’s side.

    Yet I hear nothing from you Christianists against Italians. Lets face it, its jerks like you who are bigoted anti-semites. You just use your bible as an excuse.

  • HawaiianKane

    I AM A JEW.. always have. been, always will be.. We are governed through the Torah and Tenach, as well through the Talmud. As such we are the Beloved of the Supreme Creator of ALL existence and live up to a code beyond that of Gentiles. G*d loves all Human souls and only requires that we all acknowledge – if we wish – that He/She is that primordial source and wishes that we acknowledge and respect that foundation. All of us, regardless of affiliation, can reach that final goal of association with the AlMighty (El Shaddai) in the Afterlife [with the exception of four souls]. He has said, “I will bless those who will bless you and curse those who will curse you..” HE is the landlord of the world, we are his tenants..

    HE has given the Hebrew/Jewish people the land we know as Canaan or South Syria or Judea or ISRAEL. HE has scattered us amongst the world’s population to show of HIS wishes. He has said repeatedly ” I have NO Mother or Father, have NO Son or Daughter, I AM the first and the last, there is nothing before me and nothing after” In Hebrew He has said, “I AM that I was and will be evermore”. By saying such HE emphasizes the HE made existence and time, not the other way round.. He could move ALL the Teutons to Tasmania or the Antarctic – should He so desire !

    As the TORAH and Talmud is the living word of HaShem (“G*d”), should I (or anyone else) believe anything other than such truth ? Who is this Joshua Pantera, that many European Gentiles have murdered countless millions (six million of my own) for and than described him as this “dirty Jew”, before they espoused the vulgarity of a new Teutonic and Nordic Bible that would extinguish all Hebraic personalities and philosophies ? Did such a Joshua Pantera even exist ? Much less was he murdered by the Romans ?

    We move at the call of HaShem only – Blessed be His Name – Baruch HaShem – As Moses said “Who stands with G*d ? ” I do, Heart & Soul, now and forever more !

    Who does “Jsg8” stand with ?

  • volcanikred

    The day before Kristallnacht, a Jewish anarchist assassinated the German ambassador in Paris. This is not an excuse, but it sheds light on this event.

  • larryclyons

    Wrong. Kristallnacht was planned well in advance. If it wasn’t a ticked off teenaged lover of that consular official it would have been something else. Try another one. that lie doesn’t work any more.

  • Publius38

    Religion itself is the cause of anti-Semitism, specifically the “revelatory” nature of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that confers exclusivity upon those to whom the “truth” from some supernatural being is “revealed,” and everyone else is an infidel or heretic. All of this “knowledge” by the Christian “elect,” the Jewish “chosen,” or the Muslim “believer” of course is actually based on nothing but their own assertion — which by definition is mutually exclusive — but nevertheless the promulgation and defense of such “knowledge” by those claiming to have a monopoly on it has been responsible for the worst bloodshed and violence in the past 2000 years among Christians, later among Muslims, and often against Jews.

  • scottsteaux63

    “So it never occurred to the jews to move?”

    Obviously you don’t know your Bible at all; if you did you would know that the Jews have been a nomadic people for millennia. But let’s leave that out for the moment.

    Did you SLEEP through history class? Even if you didn’t know the long history, surely they must have taught you in school how anti-Semitism in Europe during World War II left millions of Jews displaced and homeless with nowhere to go, to say nothing of the millions that died in the camps.

    I have been a Christian practically from the cradle but I have also known for many years that my maternal grandmother’s people were Jews who converted for what appear to have been socioeconomic reasons (a pity). I do not understand this seemingly undying hatred for a group of people. What have the Jews EVER done to deserve being hated by complete strangers?

  • 14mike

    interesting . but lets look at the point of the article itself, anti-semitism. how would the average person of whatever age come into contact with the idea that any group deserves their scorn ?
    when young, its’ all hearsay, little comments by the group and maybe an occasional comment by the parents of our friends which we pass on in our attempt to be cool and part of the gang.
    most people with even average intelligence grow out of this either because they gather enough life experience to realize some of the things they heard when younger were not true, or they see that their criticism causes more harm than good.
    others become bigots, in this case anti-semites after observing, reading about or directly experiencing the influence of various jewish personalities in the news, in movies, in politics, etc,
    that they find false, questionable, overly materialistic, simplistic.
    as it is, the endless stories about the pervasive influence of various jewish lobbies in washington itself is enough to alienate mainstream americans against “the jews” .
    this and the stories describing the plight of palestinians at the hands of israel are more than enough reason for many to form critical opinions of “the jews” in general without needing to single out anyone person .
    and if one is a fundamentalist christian or fundamentalist muslim all of the above mentioned reasons are overshadowed by the demonization of jews as the either the executioner of jesus,
    or the greatest threat to islam in the middle east, israel being an extension of the anti-muslim intentions of the west. either way, american jews and israeli jews have created unintentional consequences for their culture and their future . its both very tragic and predictabel .
    the jews are a great people making great mistakes . their childish self serving propaganda as the chosen people serves as one of many an examples.
    as a great jew once said, “for he who is first, will be he who is last ” .
    Jesus ? Bob Dylan ? Both .

  • bgood

    “One day, in July 1941, half of the population of a small east European town murdered the other half – some 1,600 men, women and children.” This is how historian Jan Gross summarized the massacre that occurred in Jedwabne, in northeastern Poland. Gross described the atrocities in almost unbearable detail: Men and women were hacked to death with knives, iron hooks, and axes. Small children were thrown with pitchforks onto a bonfire. A woman’s decapitated head was kicked like a football. Local townsmen-turned-hooligans grabbed clubs studded with nails and other weapons and chased the Jews into the street. Many tried to escape through the surrounding fields, but only seven succeeded. The thugs fatally shot many Jews after forcing them to dig mass graves. They shoved the remaining hundreds of Jews into a barn, doused it with kerosene and set it ablaze. Some on the outside played musical instruments to drown out the victims’ cries.

  • bgood

    Don’t go further than the deicide charge in T NT. Despite the Pope’s clearance of Jews from same charge it continues.

  • bgood

    Some Jewish sages point out that Jews were exiled from their own homeland Israel because of their own sins, e.g. causeless hatred one against the other,, violation of Sabbath etc.

  • bgood

    When somebody applies a completely different set of standards for judging the acts of Jews than he does when it comes to judging others that is anti-Semitism. When somebody befriends holocaust deniers and lauds their actions that too is anti-Semitism. When somebody sides with the enemy when the sons of his neighbours are risking their lives in the war against terror, he is a traitor

  • bgood

    For those not already brainwashed with causeless hatred then this world is about good vs. evil. Now take sides

  • bgood

    Don’t be hurt by anti-Semitic insults. Know that the problem lies with the anti-Semite and not with you.

  • bgood

    As blogger put it concerning today in Middle East: Granted democracy was given a chance, but instead of secularism and prosperity we’ve seen a rise of Islamism, terrorism, rape, Christian persecution, anti-Semitism, unemployment and an entire region arguably the most destabilized in modern history.

    Islamist parties won the elections in Tunisia and Egypt, the Libyan government and constitution are based on Sharia law, Turkey is being re-Islamized, leaders of the Syrian rebels have called for a country with Sharia law, and we’ve seen a surge of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates across the region including Algeria, Mali, Yemen and Somalia.

    Iran is continuing to pursue nuclear weapons and according to IDF’s military intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Israel faces a total of 200,000 missiles and rockets aimed at it by its enemies.

    The Syrian central bank has announced that Iran has facilitated a credit line worth at least $4 billion to Assad. One Arab official estimated that Iran was providing around $700 million per month to Syria

  • bgood

    Reported is that a far higher percentage of Jews were lost than that of their non-Jewish counterparts in all other groups. While 90% of Poland’s Jewish population was decimated, 94% of Polish Christians survived. Close to 60% of Europe’s total Jewish population was murdered, while the millions of Russians deaths represented 15% of their population. A large number of Poles and Russians were killed during the German Army’s invasion and occupation of their lands, and many Russian soldiers died in captivity in violation of international conventions. It would seem inaccurate to classify these dead as Holocaust victims, although racism was undeniably a factor in the treatment they received.

  • bgood

    Yea, just go ahead and pretend it didn’t happen….

    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.”

    -Martin Niemöller: 1892-1984

  • bgood

    Kristalnacht took place on Martin Luther’s birthday, and Luther himself could understand why the Jews rejected Catholicism, but he let loose with a hate-filled diatribe when he found out that they weren’t embracing his teachings.

  • bgood

    As a blogger put it: Come on folks being anti-Semitic is as Christian as can be. They are simply espousing what their priests and pastors have been professing for years: Jews are Christ killers, they are cursed for eternity. Catholics raised Jew hating to an art form over the past 1700 years; thanks to Saul of Tarsus aka Paul.

    Martin Luther was famous for his anti-Semitic rants, his influence on Hitler’s “Final Solution” is well documented. You don’t erase almost 2,000 years of doctrinally inspired/directed hate over night.

  • Typhon

    First they came for the Royalists, and I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Royalist
    Then they came for the Mensheviks, and I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Menshevik
    Then they came for the Trotskyites, and I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Trotskyite
    Then finally they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

  • Typhon

    Largely the Nazis were concerned about getting rolled over by the Bolsheviks and then getting much of their population murdered like what happened to the Ukrainian people. And like what was still being done to the Russian people. And certainly we know from our own experience with the Progressives how the Left demonizes its opposition.

    The way Hitler presented it was that if and when the Bolsheviks conquered Germany they were going to put Jews in charge of the murder campaign against the German people. Is this true that they would have done this? Probably so since Jews were the leaders of Communist organizations that did a number of short-lived coups after WW1. Plus the Bolsheviks were quite quick to gear up the killing machine once they captured Russia from the Russian people. Plus the Bolsheviks appointed Jews to command most of Eastern Europe after the war.

    But certainly can’t blame this on the Jewish people as a whole. Just on certain individuals. Plus we had our own Communist league here in the US too, much of it run by Jews. Which again is not to blame the Jews. But if they did not have so many people bent on murdering their host population can be sure public opinion towards them would have been more favorable.

  • Captain Alatriste

    This is not a very intelligent comment.

    I suppose you must have learned what passes in your mind for history from someone as ignorant and bigoted as yourself.

  • chi-town2

    “Anti-Semitism”. An obstacle to clear thinking? Here is a definition from Wikipedia:
    The term Semite means a member of any of various ancient and modern Semitic-speaking peoples originating in the Near East, including; Akkadians (Assyrians and Babylonians), Eblaites, Ugarites, Canaanites, Phoenicians (including Carthaginians), Hebrews (Israelites, Judeans and Samaritans), Ahlamu, Arameans, Chaldeans, Amorites, Moabites, Edomites, Hyksos, Arabs, Nabateans, Maganites, Shebans, Sutu, Ubarites, Dilmunites, Bahranis, Maltese, Mandaeans, Sabians, Syriacs, Mhallami, Amalekites, Palmyrans and Ethiopian Semites. It was proposed at first to refer to the languages related to Hebrew by Ludwig Schlözer, in Eichhorn’s “Repertorium”,
    It seems “Semites” may mean more than only Jewish folks although the article refers to a Jewish family.
    Any thoughts on this?

  • xexon

    Actually, what he says is quite true and you’re the one who needs an education.


  • dcrswm

    Semite does refer to any group that speaks a semitic language but antisemite is defined as “discrimination against people of jewish descent”. Now why “semite” is being monopolized as strictly referring to jewish people is beyond me.