The Kindertransport’s True Legacy

March 24 2022

In discussions regarding Britain’s obligations to Ukrainian refugees, notes Jonathan Freedland, many commentators have invoked the Kindertransport, in which specially chartered trains brought thousands of Jews below the age of seventeen to England in the months prior to World War II. Freeland argues that appealing to the Kindertransport as a “noble tradition of looking after refugees,” as the conservative pundit Simon Heffer put it, is both self-serving and inaccurate:

It is quite true that between March 1938 and the outbreak of war in September 1939, some 9,000 Jews below the age of seventeen came to Britain on the specially chartered trains that would become known as the Kindertransport. But here’s the question asked by too few of those who like to invoke that episode as proof of British generosity: why exactly was it children who were admitted, given that it was Jews of all ages who faced the threat of lethal Nazi persecution in Europe?

The answer is not flattering. Special provision was made for those children because Britain refused to let in their parents—or indeed any adults. Consult The Final Solution, the magisterial history of the Holocaust by the late David Cesarani—and how we miss his calm, reasoned scholarship—and you soon learn that then-Home Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare waved aside demands that Britain extend a hand to Jews fleeing Nazism, telling the House of Commons that there was an “underlying current of suspicion and anxiety, rightly or wrongly, about alien immigration on any big scale. It is a fact that below the surface there is the making of a definite anti-Jewish movement.”

In other words, His Majesty’s government could not help Jews escape anti-Semitism in Germany because that might cause anti-Semitism in Britain. Jewish refugees would become the objects of hatred, not least from those who imagined refugees coming here and stealing their jobs. Best, then, to keep the Jews out.

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Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anti-Semitism, Holocaust, Kindertransport, United Kingdom

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism