Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, was the night of horror that took place between November 9-10, 1938, giving the green light for the murder and killing of Jews. The sound of shattering glass in Berlin’s synagogues from that night blends today with the sounds made by those who breached the Gaza border communities and burned houses, murdered babies, massacred the elderly, raped girls, and abducted people of all ages.
Back when I was a school principal in my village, I exposed my teaching staff and students to the Holocaust and its implications, explaining to them both the human tragedy and the lesson that all of us must remember (and never forget any of it) and, above all else, that we must make sure it never happens again.
In these terrible times, I am deeply saddened to say that we have failed in this mission, failed to keep our oath of “Never again! No more!”
A month ago, we regrettably awoke to more hatred, more murderous loathing, more burning of people, more raping of women, more slaughtering of children and old people, more decapitation of human bodies, more chopping off of limbs, more abductions.
Every year, I take part in national Holocaust memorial ceremonies, sometimes as a speaker, sometimes only by placing a comforting hand on the shoulder of a survivor. Every year, I look at the railway car shipped to Israel and installed in Netanya by my German friend, and promise myself: “Never again!” And yet here we are, 85 years later, and once again, unthinkable horrors have occurred, and the sounds are the same sounds, the sights are the same sights, the pain is the same pain, and the loss is the same loss – as if 85 years have not gone by.
As a teacher and a principal, a father, an Israeli citizen who is proud of his country, of its values and symbols, I never imagined there would come a day when, after the horrific Holocaust experienced by the Jewish people and by humanity, we would find ourselves once again facing the fire of hatred, the abomination of the human race, the sights we had thought we would never see again.
We have no right to despair. We must not surrender. We must not give in to the fire of hatred. We must not throw away into the junkyard of history this promise that has passed from one generation to the next: “Never again!” We have an obligation to ourselves and to future generations to write in indelible ink: Never again!
Israel must remain strong
The State of Israel and its citizens must be strong, steadfast, and act with determination so that the Black Saturday massacre never happens again.
As an Israeli Arab who is proud of his country and of his Muslim faith, I am anxious and worried when I see what is once again engulfing Europe, the United States, and Arab countries: a wave of Holocaust denial – and a wave of denial of the Black Saturday massacre.
Antisemitism is reawakening in the world – actually, it never really left. Hatred of Jews is a cancer that must be eradicated, through education, education, and still more education. Liberal enlightened countries cannot claim innocence as the racist antisemites are now raising their heads.
The war against antisemitism and racism, against hatred of Jews and hatred of any other people, must awaken the heads of countries and states to redefine their basic values.
Some countries woke up horrified on that Black Saturday, seeing the new Nazis, witnessing another Kristallnacht and the burning of Jews. They woke up horrified and began to take action beyond expressions of disgust at the abominable acts, beyond mere empathy. They began to legislate laws against the resurrection of the new Nazism after 85 years.
The State of Israel is a sovereign, independent, developed, leading country; it is a wonder among the nations, a great miracle; and it has a strong and powerful army, a moral army. This is unlike the situation of the Jews back then, 85 years ago.
Keeping our promise
We, the citizens of the Jewish and democratic State of Israel, will overcome the evil, will eradicate the abomination, and will defeat those who threaten to destroy us. We will emerge and rise with full force from Black Saturday. There will be no more Kristallnachts, no more Holocausts, no more Jews being led to the slaughter.
This year, the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, has taken on a new, more powerful and more significant meaning for me: that we, as humans, must stand as a steel fist against evil. We must strike it down without mercy, everywhere in the world, and we must teach love of our fellow humans, mutual respect, liberty, and justice.
We made a promise, “Never again!” And we intend to keep it.
The writer is a Muslim Arab educator, with 30 years of experience in the educational system, 16 of which were as a school principal. He is the author of the book Arabs for Israel, and a peace activist striving for coexistence. He believes in teaching love for one another; a sense of belonging to one’s society and country; and mutual support and responsibility for one another.
Translated from Hebrew by Voice of Liberty news agency.