Foreign minister lashes out at disinformation, anti-Semitism at Kristallnacht ceremony
Kristallnacht was commemorated on Wednesday in the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam. In a speech, Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra appealed to people who openly spread disinformation, and support conspiracy theories including those which are anti-Semitic. "Intolerant voices sound loud, especially when it is so quiet on the other side," he said.
Kristallnacht, sometimes known in English as "Night of Broken Glass," was a pogrom organized by the Nazis against the Jewish population of Germany. Nearly a hundred Jewish people were murdered overnight from 9-10 November 1938, and thousands of synagogues and shops run by Jewish people were destroyed. It foreshadowed the mass murder of Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.
Hoekstra told how Kristallnacht was orchestrated by the German state. He also quoted a message from a British diplomat in Berlin, who saw how the violence was welcomed, or at least not rejected. "There is a lesson in that observation that is also relevant today. That you should never tolerate hate; that you should never be passive."
The minister stated that anti-Semitism in 2022 is "far from gone" in the Netherlands and that it makes him "really furious." Hoekstra said that anti-Semitism deeply permeates throughout society, even though people usually only see the tip of the iceberg. "Also here today. Because this commemoration can only take place because this synagogue is under tight security."
Hoekstra underlined that dialogue is crucial to get through to people who hold fundamentally different views and, for example, "flirt with conspiracy theories in which Jews implicitly play the leading role." He asked people to, "Find those acquaintances, friends, family. Confront them, shake them awake."
Hoekstra implored that people should "Listen to their concerns, but also hold up a mirror to them. Only in this way can we drown out hate and find the reasonable sound that I too often miss in our country."
Chanan Hertzberger, chair of the Jewish lobbying organization CJO, also gave a speech in which he warned about the dangers of intolerance. According to Hertzberger, some attitudes that formed the breeding ground for hatred against Jews a hundred years ago have returned. He cited as examples the idea that Jewish people control the media, or that they were responsible for the coronavirus pandemic.
"The storm that grows out of intolerance and hatred affects everyone. Doing nothing is not an option, because whoever closes his eyes now has to take into account that the world can be very dark when he opens them back up again."
The National Kristallnacht Commemoration in Amsterdam was attended by eight hundred to a thousand people. According to CJO, that was more than double that of previous years.
Reporting by ANP