News Digest — 11/20/20

The Nuremberg Trials 75 Years Later – Alex Winston

Friday, November 20 marks 75 years since the beginning of the Nuremberg Trials, when the political, military, judicial, and economic leaders of Nazi Germany were put on trial for War Crimes at the end of WWII.

After six years of war, that decimated Europe and took the lives of an estimated 75 million people worldwide, the victorious Allied Powers – Great Britain, the Soviet Union, France and the United States – came together in an unprecedented collective to deliver justice to leaders that had planned and executed the Holocaust (which killed 6 million Jews, and others), in Eastern Europe, and 12 years of dictatorship over the German people.

The German city of Nuremberg was chosen as it was considered the ceremonial heartland of the Nazi Party.  The city had given its name to the racial Nuremberg Laws, anti-Semitic and racist legislation that barred Jews from German citizenship and marriage to Germans.  Although not the first anti-Semitic legislation passed by the Nazis, it was one of the most important in the gradual dehumanization of Germany’s Jewish population.

The city also hosted the infamous Nazi Party rallies, epic in their images of flags, fires, and marching hordes of Nazis.  It was only fitting that the city was chosen to mark the Party’s demise and the end of Nazi Germany.

Germany’s leader Adolf Hitler had committed suicide in May 1945 as the Soviets closed in on his bunker in Berlin, along with Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.  SS leader and one of the chief architects of the Holocaust, Heinrich Himmler, committed suicide at the end of May while in British custody.  But there were still many prominent leaders of the regime to prosecute.

The International Military Tribunal that was to deliver justice opened with indictments against 24 leading Nazis, among them Albert Speer, Armaments Minister from 1942; Hans Frank, leader of Nazi Poland; Martin Bormann, Nazi Party Secretary; Joachim von Ribbentrop, Germany’s Foreign Minister and Herman Goring, Reichsmarschall and the Commander of the Luftwaffe who was the highest-ranking Nazi to be tried.  Deputy Nazi Party leader Rudolf Hess, who was captured after flying to Scotland in 1941 and held in Britain, was transported to Nuremberg to be tried alongside his former collaborators.

US Prosecutor Robert H. Jackson spoke for several hours in his opening statement and his speech made a worldwide lasting impression.

“We will show [the accused] to be living symbols of racial hatreds, of terrorism and violence, and of the arrogance and cruelty of power,” Jackson said.  “They are symbolic of fierce nationalism and of militarism, of intrigue and war-making which have embroiled Europe generation after generation, crushing its manhood, destroying its homes, and impoverishing its life.”

After 10 months of testimony – including over 200 witnesses, cross examinations and 300,000 affidavits – the court adjourned and on the afternoon of October 1, 1946, individual sentences were read out.

Twelve of the defendants were sentenced to death by hanging for war crimes and the new concept of “crimes against humanity,” including Hess, Frank, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the highest-ranking SS officer to be tried at Nuremberg.

Seven received prison sentences and five were acquitted or received no decision.

Of the twelve sentenced to death, Martin Bormann was tried and sentenced in absentia having been last seen attempting to flee Berlin in the last days of the war.  Human remains found close to Hitler’s bunker were later confirmed in 1972 to be his.

Herman Goring, the most infamous of the Nuremberg defendants, took a cyanide pill the night before he was to be hanged and died before justice could be carried out.

The lasting impact of the Nuremberg Trials cannot be underestimated.  Although the concept of collective justice had existed since WWI when brief, joint-military trials were carried out, Nuremberg marked the first time major world powers came together to deliver justice on such a scale.

The events of World War II led to the creation of the United Nations, intent on never letting such a global conflict occur again, and individual tribunals such as those against war crimes in the former Yugoslav republics and the Rwandan genocide have shown that Nuremberg’s influence is still lasting into the 21st century.



US To Regard BDS Campaign As Anti-Semitic

The US government will take action against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and groups that support it, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said Thursday (19th) during a press conference in Jerusalem.

“We will regard the global anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic,” he said, standing alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Promising concrete steps will be taken, Pompeo noted, “We will immediately take steps to identify the organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw US government support from such groups.”

The US’s top diplomat did not mince words, comparing the BDS movement to “a cancer,” and reinstating Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security: “During the Trump administration, America stands with Israel like never before.”

He further blasted Iran for its regional aggression, saying that the US had no intention to pull the brakes on its “maximum pressure” campaign.

He slammed the Islamic Republic as the chief state sponsor of terrorism worldwide and thanked Israel for its support in the US pressure campaign.

Pompeo also said he would visit the Golan Heights: “Today I’ll have the chance to visit the Golan Heights.  The simple recognition of this as part of Israel, too, was a decision President Trump made (in 2019) that is historically important and simply a recognition of reality,” he said.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas, called Pompeo’s visit “an active partnership in this occupation.”



Palestinians Protest Pompeo’s Visit To Judea And Samaria

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Psagot Winery in Judea and Samaria, on the outskirts of Ramallah, on Thursday (19th), to the dismay of the Palestinians.

Earlier in the day, Ponpeo confirmed that President Trump would honor a request from four Republican senators to officially change US customs policy regarding products made in Judea and Samaria, so that said goods would be labeled “Made in Israel.”

Pompeo’s visit marks the first time a high-ranking American diplomat has formally visited Judea and Samaria.

In al-Bireh, a Ramallah suburb some 6 miles away from the Psagot Winery, Palestinians protested, waving flags and burning tires.

Holding signs with phrases such as “Pompeo Go Home” and “Pompeo is a Partner of a War Criminal,” scores of youth protested on the side of the road leading to Psagot.

“Pompeo’s visit is unprecedented.  It makes him a participant in war crimes,” said Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative and a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council.

“This is an encouragement to the settlement building plans, and encouragement to the incremental annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories,” Barghouti told local media.

Barghouti’s cousin, Marwan Barghouti, was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences in 2004 for his involvement in planning and executing terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens and a Greek Orthodox priest.

A group of Palestinian activists held a press conference against the visit, in which they publicly condemned Pompeo.

“We are telling the Americans, when you drink that wine, you are drinking the blood of the Palestinian people,” said Abdul Jawad Saleh, an activist.

Saleh’s remarks call to mind classic blood libels against Jews, which falsely allege that Jews murder non-Jewish children in order to obtain their blood for religious rituals.

A common blood libel is that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children to prepare Matzah for Passover.  This falsehood is in direct contrast to Jewish dietary laws, which explicitly prohibit the consumption of blood.

Blood libels have historically led to deadly pogroms against Jews.



Why Does The EU Involve Itself In Israeli Building Plans In Its Capital? – Editorial

→ On Monday (16th), an EU delegation led by EU Representative Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff visited the Givat Hamatos hilltop in Jerusalem to make known their opposition to planned housing construction at the site.  Their visit raises questions as to why they are involved in the first place in a matter involving Israeli building plans in its capital, Jerusalem.

→ While the construction of 1,200 housing units is portrayed as a “settlement,” the reality on the ground does not mesh with these claims.  Givat Hamatos is inside Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, it is not a settlement, and it is surrounded by civilian neighborhoods.  Housing has been planned here for years to alleviate the city’s growing housing need, and people already live in the area.

→ It is asserted that the area, if built on, somehow changes the two-state solution.  It does not.  Givat Hamatos is geographically part of Jerusalem and not some area that is negotiable with the Palestinians.  There has already been widespread building in nearby areas.  The sudden, heated rhetoric about this area appears more political than based in reality, manufactured to create a headache for the incoming U.S. administration.

→ It is important to ask why a relatively small number of homes in this one area is of such great importance.  While millions have been forced to become refugees in Syria, while Turkey is involved in ethnic cleansing in Afrin and northern Syria, and a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia has displaced thousands, it is worth wondering why European officials once again single out Israel.



Muslims: Al-Aqsa Mosque Does Not Belong To Palestinians – Khaled Abu Toameh

The Palestinians now say they are opposed to Muslims who believe in peace with Israel visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque.  They say a Muslim who believes in Israel’s right to exist is not entitled to pray at Al-Aqsa.  Although the site is sacred to all Muslims, the Palestinians have somehow convinced themselves that Al-Aqsa is their private property and that they have the right to prevent other Muslims from praying there.  This is why Palestinians insulted and expelled an Emirati delegation that visited Al-Aqsa on October 19.

The threats and abuse by the Palestinians have drawn sharp criticism from several Muslims, especially those living in the Gulf States.  These Muslims have condemned the Palestinian “thugs” who harassed and insulted Muslim worshipers during their visit.  They are also demanding an end to the Palestinian “monopoly” over the Islamic holy site in Jerusalem, saying: “The Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to all Muslims, and not only the Palestinians.”  Once again, the Palestinians have opted for hating Israel and any Arab who seeks peace with it.