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August 26, 1960 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1960-08-26

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— Friday, August 26, 19 60 —


Purely Commentary

Bernard Berenson, the Twice Converted Art Connoisseur

Sylvia Sprigge is the author of a most interesting biography of
the world famous art connoisseur and author of many critical works,
Bernard Berenson. She has written her work in a spirit of admira-
tion and affection for the man she had learned to know and to
Her "Berenson," published by Houghton Mifflin Co. (2 Park
St., Boston) is the result of many years
of research.
Regrettably, it is incomplete. It fails
to explain to the reader how and why
a man who was brought up in a -Jewish
environment, who never hesitated to
acknowledge his Jewish heritage, who
knew Yiddish and Hebrew, should have
become converted twice. What caused
it? There is no explanation for it. Why
did he abandon his Jewish faith? Its
motivation remains veiled in secrecy.
Miss Sprigge writes that "Berenson
was a Jew born and bred, with an
Episcopalian baptism behind him." It
is doubtful whether there was much
loyalty to Episcopalianism, for, later
on, "he was received into the (Catholic)
Church," and his act actually is viewed
that "he was really being received into
Italy." "Nominal Catholics" is the way
Berenson described himself and his wife.
A lengthy chapter on the Pale of Settlement in Russia, where
Berenson was born, provides interesting background data on the
great critic and art authority. This chapter is a sympathetic explana-
tion of Jewish life in the Pale (Cherto Ossiedlosti). There are some
errors in this account. The biographer is right in referring to others
like Hayim Soutine and Marc Chagall, who also were born in the
Pale of Settlement, as Jews. But she is wrong in listing Debussy as
a Jew.
In spite of minor errors,. this is a good account, and it is
interesting to learn from a footnote by Miss Sprigge that the dis-
tinguished Jewish scholar, Sir Isaiah Berlin, and Sir Isaiah's mother
had read her chapter on the Pale. It is rather surprising that they
did not correct some of the errors, but they are minor and should
not be held against the book.
Berenson had changed his name from the family name of Val-
vrojenski. Miss Sprigge gives an account of the desire of the younger
generation of Jews in the Pale to go to the United States rather
than to the Promised Land, and at this point she states:
"Zionism was not popular in the Valvrojenski household. In
later years Berenson wrote: 'I hated Zionism until Hitler's attempt
to -destroy the Jews. Now the experiment of a Jewish State is a
necessity that can't be avoided . . . the Hebrew language may be
swamped by Arabia, and then Israel will sink into another and
poorer Lebanon. Absit omen.' "
Later, in her account of Berenson's life and activities, Miss
Sprigge states: . "Before the Nazis came to power he had never
been in favor of the Zionist movement or of the return of Israel
to the Jews. But once the persecution started in earnest, he believed
that no other course was possible. But he did not financially
support this or any other 'movement'
Indeed, there were others like him who changed ideological
course when Hitler introduced his racial theory: then Jewish ances-
try was traced not only beyond conversion, but unto the third gen-
eration of grandparents and great-grandparents. Had men like
Berenson acted earlier—and helped—most of the six million Jewish
marytrs to Hitlerism undoubtedly would have been rescued.
The Absit omen could, therefore, be applied to himself. Beren-
son, the great art critic, also had chosen to prophesy and pass judg-
ment about the swamping of Hebrew and Israel's absorption into
Lebanon. All evil aside, Berenson, raised in the Pale of Settlement,
emerges as prejudiced about the people from whom he stemmed,
uninformed about the great event called Israel that already was a
fact in his lifetime, his death having occurred in 1959, at the age
of 94.
But one must not judge Berenson's motives. He was Lithuanian,
but he did not boast of being a Litvak; yet, he acknowledged it.
Why did he abandon faith? He is not to be judged without the facts,
and the cause of his twice-changed religious faith is not given in
the Sprigge biography.
In most other respects, Miss Sprigge has written a splendid



John Scott's Ultra Biased 'Democracy Is Not Enough'


In "a personal survey of the hungry world," in his new
book entitled "Democracy Is Not Enough," published by Har-
court, Brace & Co. (750 3rd, N. Y. 16), John Scott poses the.
questions: "If multi-party parliamentary democracy will not
work in the Hungry World during its turbulent development
through self-government and independence, education and capital
formation, what will work? How are the world's eager new na-
tions to govern themselves?"
The amazing answer given by Scott is: "A limited and tem-
porary authoritarianism is necessary."
He qualifies his advice by stating that "it will take years for
these nations to acquire the assets and education needed to
institute democracy . . . It is for such nations rather than against
the USSR or China or communism that the United States must
bend its efforts. To achieve this objective, democracy is not
The reason we do not formulate "a new and virile ideology,"
Scott avers, is because "we are overfed, overindulged individ-
uals . . . For too many of us the. brotherhood of man has degen-
erated into a glorification of the rugged individual . . ."
Perhaps it is in the context of such an approach to
human values that we can best understand Scott's attitude
towards Israel and the Jews.
Scott quotes facts and figures to show Israel's progress and
he pays a compliment to the Jewish State. He gives the Israelis
credit for having made "the desert bloom" and for having "estab-
lished both an operative democracy and the highest per capita
income in that part of the world,
But his emphasis is not on the ingenuity and industriousness

Libels Against Israel
in New Book • . .
The Berenson Story

By Philip

the United States government and from private Jewish sources.
By innuendo as well as by direct implication, he maintains that
Israel could not exist otherwise, and he utters this damaging
sentiment that sounds as if it were dictated by the Council for
Judaism and the Arab League:
That Israel should restrict immigraton, that some refugees
should be returned to Israel and that the 1949 UN resolution
on frontiers should be implemented. "I believe," he states, "the
United States should use economic and political pressures to
urge the Israelis to do these things. A simple ruling of the In-
ternal Revenue office on the tax deductibility of private funds
would alone put great pressure on the Israelis."
Then he asks another question: "But if the Israelis refuse
to compromise?" And this is followed by the most amazing
statement yet heard. Scott's unbelievably fantastic comment is:
"Russian arms are now coming steadily into the Middle
East, to Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt. Unless the Russians
can be bought off—Berlin has been suggested as a price though
I would oppose any such deal—Israel's military position will
soon be quite untenable and a regional war almost inevitable.
Rather than allow this to happen, I believe we should consider
a radical alternative policy: a United States passport and one
thousand dollars to every Israeli who wants to come to the
United States to live. We could absorb a million immigrants
without trouble. The gambit would cost a billion dollars. But
even a regional war would cost us that in the first week."
It is Scott's way of saying to Israel: "Commit Suicide!"
Which adds to the amazement of the reader who must marvel
that a writer of repute, who knows how ridiculous such a sug-
gestion is, should have unburdened himself of such a genocidal
How naive can a man be? Doesn't Scott know about existing
U.S. immigration laws, which would bar all those who would be
evacuated from Israel by his scheme? Doesn't he know that Jews
who found haven in Israel from the worst persecutions in history
were unable to go elsewhere, because all doors were shut to
Forgetting the bigotry that is expressed in the Scott senti-
ments—on the question of tax deductibility and the removal
of Jews from their homes in Israel—the ideas he has uttered
are so unrealistic and so irrationally fanciful that one wonders
how they could possibly pass through the hands of a book
publisher's editorial department.
One may well be prepared to issue passports and thousand
dollar bills to the people in Katanga in the event of increasing
Congolese troubles; or to Poles and East Berlin residents, in
the face of dangers.
But these are not the only blunders and evidences of bias in
the Scott book. For instance, he compares Jews to the Chinese,
stating that both "stick together" and • "work indefatigably."
Then he states: "There is one significant difference between the
position of the Jews in Europe and the overseas Chinese in
Asia. The population of Israel is 1,800,000. The population of
China is over 600,000,000." What's the point? Of course, there
are less than 2,000,000 Jews in Israel. They form an autonomous
community. There are 10,000,000 more Jews throughout the
world who are the Israeli's kinsmen but have nothing to do with
and no say in the Israel government. Six million Jews were
murdered. What have these facts to do with the vast Chinese
population? What's Scott's implication?
Another ill-sounding reference to Jews is that leadership of
the Communists in the "interracial comradeship against apar-
theid" is "mostly white . often Jewish." So, he succeeded in
dragging Jews in also in the South African tragedy.
John Scott went far afield to utter prejudiced views about
Jews and Israel. His "Democracy Is Not Enough" is a most
biased and harmful book.

Leader Opposes
Canada's Aid
to Day Schools

sition to the granting of govern-
ment support of Jewish day
schools and private Jewish
schools was expressed here by
Saul Hayes, executive vice-pres-
ident of the Canadian Jewish
"The general practical con-
sideration," declared Mr. Hayes,
"is that, if tax monies are used
for private schools, a great drain
on the public treasury will take
place, which will not be to the
benefit of the citizen and will
create very serious arguments."
He held that Jewish day schools
must be considered private
"I believe dogmatically that,
if the Jewish schools accept gov-
ernment monies, within a few
years the whole character of
the schools will be changed, and
the Jewish day school will be
back to the old system of Jew-
ish subjects after school hours.
Then the whole fuss will be
about having Jewish children
in a building owned by Jews,
but nothing else," Hayes said.
As for the position of the
Canadian Jewish Congress, he
asserted that "actually, Con-
gress has not taken any official
view of the day school. Nowhere
will you find any resolutions to
this effect. It is frankly and
avowedly in favor of 'bigger
and better' Jewish education,
and that is all."
"I will candidly admit," the
executive asserted, "that there
is a general feeling that the day
schools are good ideas, but only
for gifted children, being those
who can take a full course ac-
cording to the curriculum of
the Department of Education
in any given province and who
can add to this during the
school hours, Jewish history,
Hebrew and such other - distinct-
ly Jewish subjects as give a
school a Jewish character. For
people who want this for their
children, either the community
should pay for the gifted chil-
dren, or parents should do so,
or as is now the case in Jewish
high schools, a combination of
both. To ask government to do
so may or may not run counter
to the Congress philosophy, but
there is no known or stated po-
sition as yet."

Israel Names Envoy to New State of Cyprus

Zev end of World War II.
Levin, Israel Consul-General in
During the period of "illegal"
Cyprus, was appointed Ambas- immigration to Palestine, be-
sador to that new Republic. The tween the end of the war and
appointment was announced of- the rebirth of Israel as a state
ficially by the Foreign Ministry, in 1948, Cypriots were most
which added that Levin will cooperative with many Jewish
present his new letter of cre- leaders and organizations, as-
dence as full Ambassador to sisting the immigrants to Pale-
Cyprus President Makarios in stine who had been detained at
the next few days.
Cyprus by the British.
The announcement indicated
Since 1948, Israel has estab-
at least partial failure of the lished firm economic relations
United Arab Republic's frantic with the people on the island
efforts, pressed in recent weeks, and with its leaders. Spiel Bo-
to undermine the long-standing neh, the construction firm
and excellent relations that owned by Histadrut, the Israel
have existed between Israel Federation of Labor, has an af-
and the Cypriot people. These filiate company at Cyprus, and
relations, it was pointed out another affiliate is there as a
here, stem from very ancient, representive of the Shoham-
Biblical times, and were Zim shipping line of Haifa.
strongly reenforced after the Many Israelis own orchards on

Ex-Nazi May Not

Prof. Ernst Forsthoff, Heidel-
berg University political scien-
tist who had been a political
theorist for the Nazi Party
under Hitler, conceded he was
not yet certain that he would
be named to the presidency of
the Supreme Court of the new
Republic of Cyprus. Reports in-
dicating that he would be ap-
pointed to that post had been
received here from Nicosia, the
capitol of Cyprus, which form-
ally became an independent
of the Israelis but rather on' the country's receiving aid from' sovereignty this week. •

Head Cyprus Court

Archbishop Maarios, presi-
dent of Cyprus, was reported
having second thoughts about
naming Prof. Forsthoff to the
high judicial post, after receiv-
ing reports about the professor's
Nazi past. Forsthoff gained
notoriety in Germany in 1933,
and was appointed professor at
the University of Frankfurt,
after publishing a book entitled
"The Total State." The book
constituted a glorification of
Nazism, an apologia for Nazi
racist theories and an affirma-
tion of Hitler's "leadership

Cyprus. Israelis • compose the
largest tourist groups visiting
Cyprus annually.
The Cairo government has
been pressing Cyprus to ignore
Israel, playing
on the allega-
tions that
Egypt had
helped the
Cypriots in
their struggle
for independ-
ence and upon
the fact that
about 13,000
Cypriots li v e
in Egypt.
It is not yet
Archbishop certain wheth-
Makarios er Cyprus will
open . an Embassy in Israel. The
leaders of the new government
at Nicosia had planned origi-
nally to establish full Embas-
sies in only four capitals —
Athens, Ankara, London and
Washington—relegating all their
other legations to consular
status. It is hoped now, hoW-
ever, that if Cyprus does estab-
lish an Embassy at Cairo, it
will later tighten diplomatic
relations with Israel also.
Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel's
Foreign Minister, sent a cable
to Archbishop Makarios, ex-
tending Israel's official recog-
nition of the new republic and
hope that
expressing the
friendly relations would be
established between the gov-
ernments of Jerusalem ,and

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