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April 26, 1968 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1968-04-26

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Purely Commentary

Israel's Anniversary: Its Multiple Blessings
Israel's 20th anniversary invites analysis of events that have
transpired during the turbulent two decades. There wasn't a month
during the era of Israel's existence that the small state was not in
danger, that its existence was not threatened by the overwhelming
masses of hateful cousins who invented a term of substitute for anti-
Semitism, who became the world's master anti-Semites while claiming
immunity from that term because they themselves wanted to be
acknowledged as Semites; enemies who mastered a ruse for anti-
Jewishness by inventing a Zionist bogeyman.
A sense of greater security was acquired in Israel in the
last 10 months—after the Six-Day War—only because more realistic
borders were established, only because of the enemies that were
chased from the Golan Heights when Jewish settlements were con-
stantly under fire, only because the Nasser threat has been chased
away from the Gaza borderland unto the Suez.
These ten months of triumph also were marked by tensions and
uncertainties that have not abated. A world that admired Israel in
June suddenly began, as early as last July, to demand "magnanimity,"
to be envious of Israel's successes, to encourage sabotage. Banditry
has been rampant, but Israel is expected to resort to magnanimity,
and while Israelis are endangered by infiltrating vandals they are
asked to abandon gains without the benefit of peace discussions.
It is in such an atmosphere that Israel resorts to a measure of
rejoicing over an important anniversary. The great event marking the
nation's 20th year is accompanied by reiteration of a desire to strive
for peace, while rejecting suicidal submission to unrealistic pressures
for a return to the status quo ante. And while pleading for peace,
which can not be attained without the participation of the two factions
involved in the scheme of things that has obviated' peace, there have
been advantages to the Arabs from Israel's sovereignty that have
multiplied the positive aspects of what has been called the liberation
of new areas by Israel. In the course of Israel's administration of the
West Bank of Jordan, the Jordanians have benefited immensely. For
the first time, there was established freedom of travel and trade
between these Jordanians, and the Arabs under Hussein's rule were
permitted to conduct business without hindrance. This applied also
to Arabs in the Gaza area.
On March 9 a New York Times correspondent cabled a story
to his paper from Tel Aviv and presented these facts:
Relations between citizens of the occupied areas and neigh-
boring Arab states in a state of war with Israel have been en-
More than $10,000,000 worth of west bank and Gaza Strip
products, mostly agricultural surpluses, have been sent with
Israel's blessings across the bridge to Jordan. The Israelis have
also encouraged two-way traffic in people and have facilitated
a pilgrimage of the Moslem faithful to Mecca. In fiscal matters,
citizens of the west bank are subject to fewer restrictions than
All of that is in line with a long-range' view of the occupa-
tion as a means of promoting maximum understanding with the
Arabs and of using them as a political lever for a breakthrough
to the Arab world.
Israel strives for amity. Its aims are being thwarted. Yet the goal
—the hope for peace—is never out of sight.
All the progress attained there is in defiance of .obstacles from
abroad. Rut these difficulties are being hurdled primarily because
of Israel's major supporter: the Jewish people. As long as the kinship
between Israeli and world Jewries is respected, Israel's position re-
mains fairly secure. It is with that security in view that Israel
gathers blessings on its 20th anniversary from Jews on the entire globe.


Strange Bedfellows: Judaists and Atheists
There is no limit to surprises and to puzzles in this cockeyed world
of ours! Many efforts had been made for an exchange of rabbinic visits
between Russian and American Jewish communities. Whenever or-
ganized American groups asked for an affirmation of kinship, their
pleas fell on deaf old ears among the few surviving rabbis in the
USSR. Suddenly, a sanctimonious group among American Jews—such
a pitiful handful—whose interests are limited to hating Israel and the
Zionists, announces that it will be host to a rabbinic delegation from
the Soviet Union!
Even if this were true—where will the Judaism Council find a
youthful enough group of rabbis that would be healthy enough to travel
as spokesmen for the Communist regime?—one is compelled to ques-
tion the veracity of claims by a group that lacks the adequacies of
a Council because it has so few adherents, an element that is not
for but against Judaism and, because of its antagonism to libertarian
Jews, could well be called anti-American. We'll need better proof from
Russian Jews themselves to have an assurance that a visitation that
has just been heralded will actually materialize.
Meanwhile we are treated to a fantastic spectacle about very
strange bedfellows: about an American group of several thousand
Jews who defy their millions of kinsmen by instigating hatred for
Jews who aspire to freedom and by doing it in the name of a God
whose prophecies they disavow, and about those they embrace in
the Soviet Union where atheism is the motto.
Doesn't it all sound like another American Council for Juda-
ism bluff?

Poland's Reversion to Medievalism
There is a very old story about the famous Polish pianist, Jan
Paderewski, who also served as his country's prime minister. He had
pleaded for Poland's independence at the Versailles Peace Conference
after World War I, and he met with President Woodrow Wilson. When
the President inquired about his attitude toward Jews, he said that
if Poland did not receive her independence, the Poles would massacre
the 3,500,000 Jews in their country out of vengeance. Wilson asked
what would happen to the Jews—about whose plight amidst intolerant
Poles who were known for their anti-Semitism he was well informed—
if Poland was declared a sovereign state, Paderewski replied that
there would then be a massacre of Jews out of jubilation.
Even if only apocryphal, this story is so applicable to the present,
as a continuing Polish practice in relation to Jews, that it speaks
volumes as anecdotal commentary on a nation so hate-ridden that
even a handful of survivors remains a scapegoat after more than
3,000,000 Polish Jews had lost their lives during the Nazi era.
Poland has not made friends with the latest purges, the new type
of anti-Semitism that has been labeled in Nasser-fashion as mere anti-
Zionism, the fantastic way in which, in Hitler-fashion, grandparents
are being unearthed to label as Jews men and women who long ago
left the Jewish fold.
In the ranks of the small number of surviving Jews who had

Israel's Anniversary and
By Philip
Multiple Obstacles .. . Strange
Bedfellows . . . Arnoni on Poland

chosen to remain in Poland are some of that country's most loyal
adherents to the Communist regime, and they may well be considered
renegades from Judaism. It hasn't helped that group: it was too readil,,
available as a scapegoat for the bigots.
A most effective expose of the new Poland anti-Semitic wave has
been compiled by the distinguished editor of Minority of One, M. S.
Arnoni, whose recent analysis of the Six-Day War also now has
become available in an important book, "Rights and Wrongs in the
Arab-Israeli Conflict," a review of which will appear later. In his
discussion of the Polish drive on Zionists and Zionism, Arnoni out-
lines the reasons for student protests against the regime in Poland,
explains the effort "to reimpose conformity by caenoflaging the r&
issues" and declares that "if the growing restlessness and discussic
in the nation are symbolically communicated to be a Jewish phe-
menon, the zealots of party and state discipline are playing on the
old anti-Semitic string which is bound to provoke a desirable popular
emotional response. Conformity reinforced and punitive purges of
dissenters, held on an irrelevant and merely symbolic issue, the national
mood of disobedience would be generally reversed."
Conclusions reached in the Arnoni evaluation of the Polish events
provide these most interesting facts and observations:
"The Zionist motif has for some reason become a traditional
diversionary device in much of the Communist world. This tradi-
tion goes back to the most tyrannical phases of the Stalin misrule.
One would have thought that it would not survive the com-
promising post-Stalin exposures, but it did. By now a mysterious
attavism seems to be at work causing every reviver of Stalin's
tyrannical discipline to resort to his fraudulent Zionist semantics
as well. Cries against Zionism accompanied Rudolf Slansky, Czech-
oslovakia's now exonerated ComMunist leader, to the gallows;
they have forever been on the lips of Anna Pauker, Romania's
one-time Stalinist foreign minister: and they continue to be used
as semantic forts from behind which socialist democracy is shot
at by its alleged adherents.
"In the contest between the partisans of absolute party and
state authority and democratic Communists there can be no ques-
tion whatever as to who must win in the long run. The intrigues
and terror of the authoritarians may produce this or that battle
victory, but the prospect of a people resigning itself to merely
fulfilling an elite's dictates are as non-existent in Poland as they
are in a Latin American banana republic.
"In the meantime, while factions of Polish society keep fight-
ing each other, with the show mislabeled as a Zionist Congress
of sorts, not a single punch is really landing on a Zionist eye.
On the contrary, cleanest, purest and most democratic emerges
froni all this the Zionist image. If all the humane and libertarian
postulates raised by Poland's intellectuals have anything to do
with Zionism, the last ones having reason to object to the
emerging image must be the Zionists . . . Instead of attributing
such truly progressive monopoly to the Zionists, the Polish Com-
munists would be wise, humane, democratic and on the side
of a future that is as welcome as it is unavoidable, if they them-
selves claimed meaningful freedom as an indispensable property
of their ideology."
Arnoni's evaluative study deserves widest attention because of
the interesting background material provided regarding Polish Jewry.
He indicates that "a Zionist foot has not stepped on Polish soil in
decades" and that: few of the Jewish survivors of Nazi concentration
camps, Zionists or non-Zionists, had chosen to return, or to remain
in, Poland." He develops this experience of Jewish avoidance of a
return to Poland, because of the fears of ' anti-Semitism and he
elaborates as follows:

of all in public view, they have made no
particularly good or bad contribution to
the socialist system, and it is not they
who are meant by the anti-"Zionist"
crusaders. The paradox emerges that
those people whose personal sentiments
are likely to be relatively warm toward
Israel are nothing but ignored by the
crusaders; but those who had spent a
lifetime fighting Zionism and renounc-
ing their Jewishness are stigmatized
and persecuted as Zionists.
How the Jewish origin of men who
had made such determined, efforts to
conceal it has become publicly know-n
is in itself a reflection on some Polish
attitudes. In many cases the conceal-
men had simply proved ineffective,
what with many Poles' proverbial "sixth
sense" far discerning Jews, a sensitivity
on which the Nazis had greatly relied
for the success of their Final Solution.
But in many cases the escapist Jews
themselves had committed indiscretions.
A man holding important office often
thought it sufficient to conceal his Jew-
ish background from the public at large,
but deemed. this unnecessary vis-a-vis
his personal friends and associates, to
whom, as Communists, ethnic origin
was presumed to be of no consequence.
Today, these personal confidences are
echoed in the Zionist label, trusted
friends suddenly having recalled the
Zionism of those they alone had known
as being of Jewish origin.
"In a nation of deep feudal and clei‘
ical influences, who socialist transfor.
mation was sudd
en and a fruit of inter-
national developments rather than of
internal evolvements, it was unavoida-
ble that some Communists become
tusioned. If they were of Jewish bae"
ground, they had throughout the "f if t
ample opportunities to leave Poland
Israel. Many, including prominent
sonalities, did in fact leave. Hence
there was a machanism at work ensur-
ing that only currently loyal Communists
among the Polish Jews would continue

to stay in Poland.

"Because of this spontaneous ideol-
ogical purging device, there were rel-

atively many men of Jewish ancestry in
Poland's Communist hierarchy. With so
many historic and social dissuasions at
work against remaining, and with the
option of leaving easily available, those
who stayed on certainly were the most
patriotic Poles and most dedicated
Communists. No other segment of the
Polish society met, and kept meeting,
corresponding tests.
"These are the men who today are
decried as Zionists and as such singled
out for public scorn and dismissal from
office, employment and the Communist
party. These are the men whose pa-
triotism is openly impugned and who
office, employment and the Communists

The Arnoni study is valuable—
and is therefore quoted at consid-
erable length—because it goes to
the root of the problem. The editor
of Minority of One explains the
resort to the "Zionist" label as a
substitute for anti - Semitism by
That the Zionist label is ap-
plied as a sanctified semantic
substitute for ideologically inad-
missable anti-Semitic vocabulary
is obvious. The "Zionist" is sim-
ply the Jew, or more precisely,
the person of Jewish origin. It is
equally obvious that such is the
depth of Polish anti-Semitic tra-
dition that it transcends all ideo-
DP camps in. Germany, or went to
boundaries. It is not the
"The vast majority of the survivors stayed in of
going to Palestine or elsewhere.
Italy and France, there awaiting opportunity
monopoly of the confirmed Polish
Most of those who did return from Germany or the Soviet Union stayed but a
few days, weeks or months in the mostly vain hope of encountering their kin.
reaction. The 1967 events in the
And then, they moved west and south. part were cooperative in letting the Jews
Middle East, and particularly
"The Polish authorities for the most
come and go. But even in recurring periods of official interfenence with the
the diplomatic split between the
exodus, the Jews could not be stopped. Risking jail, and death from the hands of
Soviet-led governments and Is-
regime-defying anti-Semitic partisans, they climbed mountains and crossed
rael, were a godsend to many
swamps in the dark of night to flee the country in which millions of Jews had
so recently perished.
Polish Communists who, denying
"These were not only Zionists. The Zionists among the refugees would have
left Poland even before the war, if only the gates of Palestine had been open to
any anti-Semitic inclination on
them; certainly they were leaving now. But so were almost all the others; non-
their part, as last found a vicar-
Zionists and anti-Zionists, including those who in the pre-war days had specifi-
ions but legitimized expression
cally opposed emigration. The Polish soil was too soaked with Jewish blood to be
tolerable to these survivors; especially since they were aware of how crucial to
for it. Jews were now to be called
the Nazi genocide had proved the collaboration of some Poles. In all too many
"Zionists" and Jewishness was
instances. Polish patriotism and even armed defiance of the Germans had not
stood in the way of passive or even active collaboration against thee Jews. The
to be called "Israel." Go-
only gratitude the occupying Germans were earning from significant segments
mulka himself, even-while trying
of Polish nationalists was for murdering off Polish Jewry. Now, in the post-war
period, exculpating rationalization of that collaboration was rendered impossible
to contain the hysteria he had
by the endurance of climactic Polish anti-Semitism. Even now individual Jews
himself set in motion, obliquly
were falling victim to not yet disarmed Polish underground forces, some of
which were at least as anti-Jewish as they had been anti-German. In the cities,
conceded in his famous speech of
the shocked authorities were helpless to prevent a wave of mass pogroms of
March 19,1968, that at least one
Jewish survivors. No, Poland was not the place in which to remain, and one had
to leave so long as the provisional post-war conditions and repatriation move-
large daily crusading against
ments made this possible."
"Zionists," Kurier Polski was in
What about those who had remained in Poland, from whose ranks
fact "very anti-Se.mitic."
we now have the new victims of a revived' anti-Semitism? Arnoni
Much more concern has been
explains their status:
shown for 20,000 remaining Polish
"Only the most dedicated Communists among the Jewish survivors managed to
overcome these considerations and emotions and. to stay put. They would remain Jews than for JeWish communities
in. Poland despite everything, for at last the opportunity existed to shape it vastly larger, in other lands, be-
into an acceptable, progressive and socialist land. Their Communist loyalty was
sharpened by the awareness that the Communists constituted so ?miniscule a cause what is transpiring in Poland
minority in the general population that an exceptional burden of responsibility ranks reflects on the attitudes of
befell each of them as a member of the nation's new vanguard.
"These people had no Jewish loyalty of any kind. As atheists, they had no scapegoat finding everywhere els- - --
religious links; culturally and politically, they considered themselves, unequivoc- The Polish tragi-comedy also
ally, Poles. Zionism was to them a political aberration which they had encoun- veals the manner in
-which air
tered as their own hated ideological competition in the pre-war Jewish-Polish
environment. Their hatred of it was absolute; they viewed it as the main obstacle Semites in Communist ranks .
blocking Jews' salvation in a socialist humanity. Now, in the days after World
War II, whatever difficulties Jews have periodically encountered in leaving proach issues and are able to
Poland for Palestine was the work of these influential individuals in the state follow the Czarist line in perpetu-
and party apparatus.
ating a fear of an imaginary Jewish
"Had religion been a part of the Communist ideology, these people would have
unhesitatingly converted, thus committing a forma/ act of renouncing Judaism, ghost. More than anywhere else,
and Jewishness. But because religion was no ideological ingredient, they forma- the Jewish scapegoat is being uti-
lized their complete assimilation by other means.
"Today, many may fail to appreciate the cultural-emotional implications in an lized in Poland. It is not merely
East European Jew's change of name to one calculated to conceal the holder's that history repeats itself; it is
ethnic origin. In the United States, the country of immigrants, for example,
adoption of Anglo-Saxon names is the rule rather than the exception—a practice also because in some ranks hatred
the Jews share with every other ethnic minority. But in East Europe of a bygone is the rule rather than the excep-
era, the corresponding act was not only viewed askance, but it was taken for an
outright ethnic betrayal. As such, it rarely occurred except in conjunction with. tion. And and Poles with a sense
actual conversion. Few would take the step unless they had made a censcious of justice again are suffering for
decision to escape the Jewish fold. Yet, a preponderance of the Jewish Com-
munists who would not leave Poland after World War II, and especially those the sins of dictators.
holding public office, have made that fateful step: they have adopted names no
We are deeply indebted to M. S.
Jew was ever likely to have.
"Against this historical background, deep and tragic irony attaches to present Arnoni for one of the most effec-
"exposures" of "Zionism" in men whose names are given as Stefan Staszewski, tive evaluation of the pr e s e nt
Jan Grudzinski, Jan Gorecki, Stefan Zolkiewski,.Brovislaw Baczko."
"True, among those who did remain in Poland, there were also some non- Polish tragedy.

assimi/otianists, who consciously clung to their Jewishness, but stayed on for a
variety of personal reasons. Many were simply too old or tired from war ex-
perience to venture into new worlds. Some were recipients of pensions who
would not take risks with their economic security. But these people were least


1 :






2—Friday, April 26, 1968

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