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

Nov. 24 2020

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.

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Read more at Commentary

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

 

Iran’s Dangerous Dream of a Triple Alliance with Russia and China

Aug. 16 2022

Unlike Hamas, which merely receives support from the Islamic Republic, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—with which Israel engaged in a short round of fighting last week—is more or less under its direct control. In fact, the recent hostilities began with a series of terrorist attacks launched by PIJ from Samaria, which might in turn have been a response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call “to open a new front in the West Bank against the Zionist enemy.” Amir Taheri writes:

In Gaza, the Islamic Republic has invested heavily in promoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. . . . Islamic Jihad is in a minority in Gaza, hence the attempt by Tehran to help it create a base in the West Bank.

Reliable sources in Baghdad say that [Iran’s expeditionary and terrorist paramilitary] the Quds Force has been “transiting” significant quantities of arms and cash via Iraq to Jordan, to be smuggled to the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities say they are aware of these “hostile activities.” King Abdullah himself has publicly called on Iran to cease “destabilizing activities.”

But such schemes, Taheri explains, are part of a larger strategic vision of creating a grand anti-Western alliance even while engaging in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and Europe:

Last month, Khamenei praised Vladimr Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. And this month, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, praised the Islamic Republic for supporting China in “asserting its sovereignty” over Taiwan.

It is clear that some dangerous pipe-dreamers in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran have fallen for the phantasmagoric vision of “three great powers” banding together and with help from “the rest,” that is to say, the so-called Third World . . . to destroy an international system created by the “corrupt and decadent.”

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: China, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, West Bank