This Season is special. Christians around the world celebrate the birth of their Savior. Jewish families remember the miracle of the Menora as worship is restored in the Jerusalem Temple in 164 BC. Even a nation like Japan, with few Christian and Jewish adherents, allows time for festivities and gift exchanges, all because of events 2000 years ago.
The winter of 1938 was an auspicious time for the world and posits lessons for us as we reflect upon our current challenges. 1938 was the turning point in Hitler's march toward domination in Europe and the destruction of the Jews. In 1938 the forcible union of Germany and Austria occured without a shot fired or any strong protest by other powers. The infamous Munich Conference in the Fall dismembered Czechoslovakia while its architects declared "peace in our time."
These diplo-militaristic triumphs reiforced Hitler's hubris and opened the door for the campaigns that would plunge a world into war by September 1939. Hitler was emboldened to remove the last of the independent-thinking generals on his staff and make immediate preparations for consuming the rest of Czechoslovakia (March 1939) and destroying Poland (September 1, 1939). The failure of the West to intervene, in spite of superior manpower, opened the door for the temporary pact with the Soviet Union (August 22, 1939) that would ultimately enslave the eastern half of Europe during and after WWII.
But there is one more event that moved civilization toward the Abyss. That event was the Nazi-orchestrated, "spontaneous" destruction of Germany's Jewish people and property on November 8, 1939. This infamous Kristillnacht ("Night of the Broken Glass") resulted in hundreds of deaths, thousands of beatings and arrests and the final economic collapse of Jewish assets. The excuse was the execution of a military attache in Paris by a lone Jewish gunman. The real policy was a mix of greed and hatred and a testing of the national and international political waters. There were protests from around the world, but no significant action.
Kristillnacht was a critical step toward the "Final Solution" that would be implemented from 1941 to 1945 and result in the death of six million Jews and millons of other "undesirables."
Why is this moment in 1938 relevant for 2007? We are watching the same demonic opposition toward the Jews and serious Christians by Islamofacist radicals. Like Hitler, they begin with propoganda to marginalize. For the past several years, Israel has been blamed for most of the unrest in the Middle East in various international and Islamic circles. Hitler blamed the Jews for everything from Germany's defeat in WWI to her economic and social ills. Today's mullahs do the same and they are joined by millions of willing accomplices who hate Jews and the State of Israel.
After marginalization and persecution comes terror and violence just short of open warfare. Kristillnacht has been reborn in the terror of Hamas and Hezbollah and the numerous spineless politicians who are willing to sacrifice the existence of Israel on the altar of oil profits. It is also the name of a neo-Nazi band and a code word for post-modern hatred of the Jews!
On January 30, 1939 Hitler warned the world of a coming war in Europe, stating that if war did come (and Hitler had all the Polish plans ready), it would be the Jews fault and result in their "destruction."
Today as we read Iranian prophecies of Israel's destruction and observe the growth of anti-Semistism throughout the world, the response of most people seems to be to ignore it and get to the next mall for "Holiday" shopping.
We must stay alert and not allow our fear or self-hatred to blind us to the current threats to Israel, Europe and the USA. Radical muslims are already demanding separate legal systems and some foolish Western intellectuals are proposing a "plurality" of norms to accomodate them, thus destroying 2,500 years of moral and legal progress. Well-meaning leaders must get free of the delusion that Iran, Syria and other parties will ever negotiate in good faith. The destruction of Israel and demise of the West is still the agenda for Damascus, Tehran and every Islamic group, including the terrorist front in the USA called CAIR.
We do not have to repeat the same mistakes of apathy and delusion of our predecessors.
Israel is not perfect. She must be held accountable for her mistakes. She has been and is willing to negotiate land for peace - as long as that peace includes recognition of her legitimacy to exist as a sovereign nation in secure borders. So far, unambiguous guarantees are not forthcoming from any party in the current conflict. The immanent nuclear threat of Iran and the overt hatred of so many nations justifies her vigilance.
The USA must not give in to Arab and Iranian demands; in fact, we should be demanding more accountability from nations whose wealth could ameliorate the poverty of the "Arab Street" overnight!
Poverty can incite violence - witness the bread riots throughout the Medieval times in England. Poverty, however, is not the cause of the animus toward Israel. Unrelenting hate-filled propoganda against the Jews and the USA fills the minds of the very people who could bring peace.
As we celebrate this special Season, perhaps we can pledge ourselves to peaceful and powerful activism for peace in the Name of the Prince of Peace. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." The peace we promote begins with humility toward God, grows as we are honest with one another and ends in real justice and shalom for all parties currently at war. There can be peace - if we learn from the past and create a different future.