Sukkot, the Tower of Babel, and Bringing Nazi War Criminals to Justice

Seventy-five years ago this month, the war-crimes trials of the leading figures in the Nazi regime commenced in the German city of Nuremburg. The trials concluded the following October, so that the first of the eleven convicts sentenced to the gallows—the propagandist Julius Streicher—was hanged on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Meir Soloveichik observes:

Every Sukkot, Jews read Ezekiel’s apocalyptic vision of “Gog and Magog.” The prophet describes an international axis of nations that sets out to destroy the Jews, whose ultimate defeat will be marked by the celebration of Sukkot.

This passage was brilliantly explained by Samson Raphael Hirsch, rabbi of 19th-century Frankfurt. The ancient tale of the Tower of Babel, he wrote, describes a pagan, tyrannical society that created an edifice in worship of its own power; it is just such nations that hate the Jews, who preach a God of morality and justice. By celebrating for seven days in what seems to be a mere shack, the sukkah, Jews signify their certainty that the ethos marked by Babel will be ultimately undone. The people who suffered most at the hands of tyranny nevertheless confidently predict that world history, which began with a totalitarian tower, will end in a holiday of huts, a defeat of evil, and a recognition of God as the true source of power and justice.

Thus a sublime symmetry emerges that the Allies could never have foreseen. It was in Nuremberg that [Hitler’s favored architect] Albert Speer had built the “Hall of Honor,” an enormous structure towering over the rally grounds where the Nazis gathered to celebrate themselves. Architecturally celebrated in Germany, the Hall had been inspired by the ancient altar of Pergamon in Greece. To watch film of the Nuremberg rallies in a pagan structure reborn is to see a prophecy pronounced by the 19th-century German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine terrifyingly fulfilled: “The ancient stony gods will rise from the forgotten debris and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes. . . .”

In the end, the Nazi Hall of Honor, like Babel’s tower of old, was undone. . . . . It is fitting then, that the destruction of the Nazi “edifice complex” was to be followed, in the very same city, by a hanging of Nazis on the holiday of huts.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Ezekiel, Nazism, Nuremberg Trials, Samson Raphael Hirsch, Sukkot


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security