Dutch anti-Israel group holds Kristallnacht event in synagogue

Cnaan Liphshiz

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Dutch Jews warned against political abuse of the Holocaust’s memory following an Amsterdam synagogue’s controversial decision to host a commemoration that is organized by an anti-Israel group.

The Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, or CIDI, issued a statement condemning this perceived abuse on Wednesday, the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” pogrom in 1938 against Austrian and German Jews, which many Holocaust historians view as the opening shot in the Nazi-led campaign of violence against the Jews.

CIDI’s statement follows weeks of debate over the planned hosting on Nov. 9 at the Uilenburger Shul of a memorial organized by Platform Stop Racism and Exclusion, a far-left group that is shunned by local Jews for its members’ perceived animosity toward Israel and sympathy for Hamas.

“Abuse of the memorial event of this horrible night by political interest groups, be they left or right wing, is painful and objectionable,” CIDI wrote.


Termed “alternative,” the Uilenburger memorial  ceremony will occur simultaneously with the main memorial event organized annually by Central Jewish Board. This year, the event is to take place at the Portuguese Synagogue of Amsterdam and will feature an address by Prime Minister Mark Rutte; the prime minister does not usually speak at such a commemoration.

The Central Jewish Board last week condemned the hosting in a synagogue of a Holocaust commemoration event by  Platform Stop Racism and Exclusion as “provocative” and offensive, citing the group’s positions on the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The far-left group, previously known as NBK, has been commemorating Kristallnacht since 1992, often with the Jewish community. But in 2010, the Central Jewish Board of the Netherlands broke its ties with NBK because of the group’s perceived attempt to tie the Holocaust with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

NBK activist Miriyam Aouragh in 2004 organized a commemoration service in Amsterdam for Ahmed Yassin, a Hamas leader whom Israel killed that year. In 2009, NBK’s Kristallnacht commemoration featured a speech by Yassin Elforkani, an imam who in 2009 said that Jews in Damascus used blood to make matzah.

Last year, the alternative memorial event organized by Platform Stop Racism and Exclusion was hosted at a municipal building and featured a lecture by the Arab-Israel lawmaker Hanin Zoabi, who likened Israel’s actions to those of Nazi Germany. Citing the definition for anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the Central board called this comparison anti-Semitic in its statement last week.

According to the Nieuw Israelitisch Weekblad Jewish newspaper, the board of the Uilenburger synagogue had sought to rescind their invitation to Platform Stop Racism and Exclusion amid controversy, but decided to let the event go ahead for fear of legal action by the far-left group.

In reaction to the far-left group’s event, activists from the Facebook group “Time to stand up for Israel” applied for and received a permit to hold a third Kristallnacht commemoration event on Wednesday. The event, which is scheduled to feature signs of support for the Jewish state, is to take place near Amsterdam’s monument for Resistance fighters against the Nazi occupation.

Jewish communities and other groups across Europe and beyond were scheduled to commemorate the anniversary of Kristallnacht throughout this week.

In the Czech Republic, officials said a ceremony will be held at a disused factory where German industrialist Oskar Schindler employed more than one thousand Jews to save them from the gas chambers.

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