The poisonous well of anti-Jewish rhetoric By Mordecai Paldiel

Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famously remembered for his reported response to the Kristallnacht burning of German synagogues, 71 years ago this coming Monday, when he commented to a colleague, “If the synagogues are set on fire today, it will be the churches that will be burned tomorrow.”

It is not clear what he meant by this. Perhaps he was simply warning of the Nazis’ intention to target the churches as well, without any reference to the distress of the Jewish people. For, in June 1933, three months after the Nazi rise to power – after the publication of the first anti-Jewish laws, which dismissed all Jewish teachers and professors from their positions – Bonhoeffer wrote, in a church periodical, that ever since the Jews had “nailed the Redeemer of the world to the cross,” they had been forced to bear an eternal “curse” through a long history of suffering, one that would end only “in the conversion of Israel to Christ.”

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