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May 12, 1967 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1967-05-12

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Purely Commentary 'Treblinka' Documents Historic

By Philip Slomovitz

Vietnam: Multiple Tragedies Also on the Internal Front

When a local dignitary made it known a few weeks ago that he
had given up his membership in two Reform temples, in protest
against the criticisms of President Johnson's administration on the
Vietnamese question by the head of the Union of American Hebrew
Congregations, his act was viewed by many as capricious. But when
an entire congregation decides to quit the ranks of the UAHC in a
similar protest the act ceases to be sheer caprice. It emerges as part
of the mounting evidence of a serious division in the thinking of the
American people as a whole and therefore also of a split in the
attitudes of American Jewry.
There is involved in the situation a multiple set of problems.
There is the question of the right to dissent. President Johnson grants
that dissent is a basic right of people in a free democracy. He pleads
for equal such rights for himself, and his views are well known.
Then there is the matter of national honor, of the challenges that
accrue to a great nation like ours in a time when hundreds of thou-
sands of our young men are on the Vietnamese front, engaged in a
struggle to protect the rights of an area whose independence several
of our administrations have pledged to guarantee. There also is the
danger of a spreading Communism the containment of which we are
determined to assure in defense of democracy.
If we are serious in our insistence that we are striving to assure
democratic rule in South Vietnam, it stands to reason that the very
principles we aspire to in that foreign territory must be applied also
to ourselves to the fullest degree. If we mean it when we say that
the South Vietnamese should have a right to assert themselves, then
Americans on the home front must retain that right for themselves.
But this is granted: President Johnson, Vice President Humphrey,
Secretary of Defense McNamara and many others in our government
concede to the right of citizens to express views differing with those
of our administration.
Why, then, can not a rabbi, or a leader in a Jewish movement,
express dissent? Must spiritual leaders limit their thinking, their ac-
tions, their spoken words, to biblical texts, without concern for worldly
affairs, for the happenings in our midst that affect our daily lives?
There are tragedies on the Vietnamese roads, in the trenches
dug by our boys, in the airways which lead to the bombing of North
Vietnam. And there is as much tragedy on the home front. We are
not losing lives here, but we have other casualties. The action of

Revolt in Concentration Camp

"Treblinka" by Jean-Francois
Steiner—to be published by Simon
and Schuster Monday—is causing
a world-wide reexamination of the
Jewish experience in the face of the
Nazi holocaust. It documents, for
the first time, an event of enorm-
ous importance: the revolt of a con-
centration camp.

book: "Steiner was right to have
confidence in the truth, for he has
won. The story of Treblinka is a
story of pride. Above all, he has
tried to understand and to make us
understand. He has fully achieved
his purpose."
Steiner has found the only possi-
In 1942 the Nazis chose Treblin-
ble tone of voice in which to tell
ka, a small village northeast of
the overwhelming story of Treb-
Warsaw , as the site of the first of i nka—a cool, ob j ect i ve,
their extermination camps—camps even ironic tone that lets the events
that existed only to mass-produce
speak for themselves. His book,
death. There, in the summer of
which has already sold more than
1943, a small group of Jewish pris-
oners planned and led an armed
being hailed as far more than an
rebellion, killing the guards and
account of a single historic and
destr oying the compound where, ' heroic event. The tributes that fol-
during a single year, some 800,000
men, women and children had been

For the Nazis, the revolt was
an inexplicable defeat. They set
out to erase its memory from
history, methodically plowing
under the remains of the camp
and its victims. It was not until
20 years later that Jean-Fran-
cois Steiner, following a trail of

rumors and meager references,
tracked down the camp's scatter-
ed survivort and at last recorded
their story.: With the publication
of his book the truth—and the
meaning—of Treblinka are rein-
stated in history.

Temple Emanu-El in New York spells a spiritual tragedy,
We are not so concerned about divisiveness in our ranks. As long
as people can speak their /minds, as long as there is discussion, we
"Treblinka": makes unmistakably
can hope, through an exchange of views, to come to terms with our- clear the uniquely and grotesquely
selves. with the existing conditions, and somehow to guide our govern- deformed quality of day-to-day life
ment leaders towards a path of peace. It is when discussion is stifled in a death camp—a life engineered
by the technicians of the Final Sol-
that we face danger.
If the action of Temple Emanu-El were to become symbolic of ution with one specific purpose: to
insure the complete psychic disin-
the thinking of most American congregations, we could see a
in structures. There are very many Reform and Conservative rabbis tegration of their victims. Against
who are critical of President Johnson's policies, and there are some this background, it depicts the re-
Orthodox who share that view. If their congregation were suddenly volt as an act beyond heroism—a
to act in protest, as the leading New York Reform congregation did, deed of men who had to reconstruct
then the very existence, of the chief rabbinical councils and assemblies their own humanity before they
could take action. Step by step, it
would be endangered.
Vietnam itself is troublesome enough. The issues revolving around shows how the prisoners—a doctor,
the current war situation cause us great worry over the security of a financier, a shopkeeper's son,
our democratic way of life. With total freedom of expression we have simple men, cultivated men, and
security, without it we suffer suppression, we are relegated to the even children—accomplished the
status of the very system we oppose and whose intrusions upon us extraordinary feat of acquiring
we seek to prevent. Emanu-El of New York gives us serious concern guns and ammunition and making
lest a state of panic should be injected into Jewish ranks. Vietnam is a cohesiVe plan of attack while
not a Jewish but an American issue, and Jews should be judged as living in a nightmare world where
all other Americans are. If most Jewish intellectuals oppose the Presi- death might come at any moment
dent's policies they should be considered as part of an element in the for any reason or for no reason at
American democracy with such thinking. But the debate over Vietnam all.
must not be transformed into an issue that would charge Jews more
"Treblinka" sheds more light
than others with an anti-Johnson attitude. This is not true. There are than any pievious document on the
Jews in both factions in the current situatian—and Emanu-El proved slaughter of the six million and on
it. Whatever the result of the tragic debates and differences of opinion, the tragic questions that still obsess
let us never permit differences of opinion to be distorted into mat- the world. For, by showing how
ters involving loyalties and disloyalties. That's not the American Treblinka did revolt, it makes clear
way of life.
for the first time how it -was possi-
ble that Auschwitz, Belsen, Dachau

'Hating LBJ'

Crystal Ball Cracks

In his column from Washington written for the New Republic,
T. R. B., writing on the subject "Hating LBJ," had this to . say:

They called Washington "King George of Mount Vernon."
Poor John Adams was "Perfidious Patriot." Lincoln was "Baboon
in the White House." Teddy Roosevelt was mostly just a "liar" or
"scoundrel." We all know how they denounced FDR. But for
real dislike we think we have not seen in our time what oppon-
ents, particularly intellectuals, lavish on Lyndon Johnson. This
isn't contempt; this is fear and hatred.
Here is a burlesque Shakespearean play in New York where
Johnson, like Macbeth, murders his predecessor; not really, you
understand; it is all just fun and Johnson is merely depicted as
capable of murder. Left-wing critics hail the play as some kind
of new art form; it disgusts us. Here is a new book by Robert
Sherrill, "The Accidental President," which is quoted in the ad-
vertisement as saying of Mr. Johnson, "he is in fact treacherous,
dishonest, manic, aggressive, petty, spoiled and above all, acci-
The redoubtable Walter Lippmann, a man we immensely
admire, takes out after Mr. Johnson in numbered columns. He
is above name calling but his cut perhaps is deeper: "There has
never been a time when the President and the working press
distrusted each other as they do today." Perhaps not, though we
find a groudging admiration among our colleagues at the very
complexities of this larger-than-life man, so hard-working, so
wanting-to-be-loved, so unpopular. According to Mr. Gallup, only
37 per cent approve the way he is handling Vietnam; the great '
mass want a tougher war, and oppose him because he won't give
it to them. (They are 4-to-1 against a bombing pause.)
Mr. Johnson's troubles mount. The South detests him be-
cause he has gone so far, Negroes because he hasn't gone far
enough. The most sweeping social welfare program since FDR
is scored by delighted conservatives because of administrative
Then there's the business pause and the huge deficit Edwin

2—Friday, May 12, 1967

not. As Simone de Beauvoir
writes in her Introduction to the


L. Dale pointed out last weeli
as likely just before the 1968 con-
ventions. Republicans are exul-
tant. They begin to count Senate
seats and think of Jerry Ford as
Speaker (who opposes a Soviet
detente) and Dirksen as Senate
leader - (who would repeal one-
man, one-vote). Well, our crys-
tal ball is cloudy, there's a crack
in the lower elliptic. But it's a
long, long way still to 'election.

There is no one who can read
the crystal ball properly at this
time. There are cracks in it, and
there are, indeed, indications that
the approach of a Presidential year
has much of an augury for better
Even in differing with the Presi-
dent, we, can feel for him,—and
with him. He is in a difficult posi-
tion. He has inherited trouble and
he is trying to solve serious issues.
Perhaps he needs new advisers.
In any event, it is not LBJ alone
who matters, and hating a Presi-
dent doesn't solve anything. Even
our prayers won't help. But if we
get together, if there is a way of
gaining accord, perhaps we shall
have peace by 1968 and an end to
hate. For that we pray—in the
hope that such prayers, mingled
with action, will bring good re-


low represent only a fraction of the
praise that has been accorded to
"Treblinka—from generals and po-
liticians, historians_ and critics, the
literary and the popular press—in
France, England, Germany, Israel,
and now in America.
Jean-Francois St.Arigr, who is
now 28, was only tlfree years old
when his father and many of his
relatives were deported from
France by the Nazis and died in
concentration camps: "Treblinka"
is the outcome of his compelling
desire to know exactly what hap-

pened to them and to understand
why they had apparently gone with-

out struggle tq their'deaths. Steiner

is visiting America for the publica-
tion of his book.

Boris Smolar's

'Betinfeen You
. . and Me'

(Copyright, 1967, JTA, Inc.)


(Copyright, 1967, JTA, Inc.)

PERSONAL PROFILE: The four basic elements on which Ameri-
can Judaism stands are: Religion, Philanthropy, Education and Infor-
mation . . . This is the philosophical approach of Robert II. Arnow,
newly-elected president of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency . . . A
young man of 42, Arnow is one of the young g e rfe r at i o n of
American-born Jews who feel deeply about the Jewish heritage as

well as about the future of Jewishness in this country . . . He is
therefore active in all four fields of American Jewish communal
life . . . He is active in the local synagogue in White Plains, near
Scarsdale, a New York suburb where he resides . . He is active in
the New York United Jewish Appeal of which he is vice president ...
He is active in promoting Jewish education as vice president of the
American Association for Jewish Education . . . And he is active in
the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which is the only news. agency pro-
viding information about Jewish life and activities from Jewish com-
munities all over the world to Jewish communities all over the free
world . . . To him there is no doubt that more and more Jewish in-
formation must reach the American Jew of today if we want to
strengthen his Jewish consciousness . . He also talks with great
passion of the need to strengthen Jewish education in this country.
. And of course, he sees to it that his own children learn Hebrew,
study Jewish history and understand Jewish tradition . . Friday
evenings you will never see him at a theater or at meetings, because
this is his traditional "family evening" . . . Friday evening, the entire
famil athers at the dinner table either at his home or the home of
his fath in-law, the well-known and much-liked Jewish philanthro-
pist Jack ler . . . Such Friday evening family dinners were the
custom of sue venerable Jewish leaders as the late Jacob Schiff,
who was not on
a great philanthropist but a Jew who highly res-
pected Jewish tradition . . . The Friday dinner—with all his children
and grandchildren gathered at the family table—had been solemnly
observed by him and was a "must" for the entire family . . . With
young leadership now being the command of the hour in organized
American Jewish communal life, there is no doubt that Mr. Arnow—
with his devotion to basic Jewish values—is destined to play a top
role in shaping Jewish destiny in this country as far as the much-
discussed future of Judaism in America is concerned.

PROGRESS REPORT; The fund-raising campaigns in the com-
munities throughout the country are now going extremely well . . .
Last year, the Jewish welfare funds—outside of New York—raised
$94,000,000, of which the United Jewish Appeal received 50 per cent.
. . . It can safely be predicted now that this year the welfare funds

will raise more than in 1966 . . . Already, about $65,000,000 have
been raised in the communities outside of New York, and at this
point the 1967 campaign is running over 10 per cent ahead of last
year . . . In New York, the UJA campaign is by now about 11 per
cent ahead as compared with last year.
What are the factors that brought about increased giving to the
Jewish welfare funds in each of the last three years? . . . First is..

the fact that many Jewish contributors in the communities have come
to recognize the federation primacy among Jewish communal res-
ponsibilities and have also become involved in year-around programs.
. . Second is the special efforts of the United Jewish Appeal during
the three years of the Fisher administration, with Max M. Fisher as
general chairman of the UJA, giving much of his valuable time to
personally visiting communities to stimulate fund-raising there . . .
And third is the growing results of the Young Leadership Programs.
. . . In the opinion of Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, executive vice-
chairman of the United Jewish Appeal—who is the "father" of the
young leadership idea—the American Jewish community is beginning
to see the results of the work invested in developing young leadership.

COMMUNAL LOYALTY: The increase this year in fund-raising is
considered as the best demonstration of American Jewry's under-
standing of the needs of Israel . . . It is no secret that immigration
to Israel is declining, however contributors to the UJA—and to the
welfare funds which allocate about 50 per cent of their monies to
the UJA—are aware of the fact that Israel faces serious problems
in absorbing tens of thousands of immigrants already there . . . They

are also aware'. of the unemployment situation in Israel and of the
other social welfare problems there . . . Hence, they feel it is their
obligation, to come, to the aid of Israel now even more titan before.

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