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November 08, 1968 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1968-11-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Cassin--Nobel Prize-Winning Humanitarian

By EDWIN EYTAN

(Copyright 1968, TPA, Inc.)

PARIS—This year, for the third
time since the Nobel Peace Prize
was established, its recipient is a
Jew, Prof. Rene Cassin, an elderly
man with a little pointed white
beard and soft warm eyes, with
precise, pendantic gestures and a
low, practically inaudible voice. To
Jews he looks like the typical re-
incarnation of an old-fashioned
rabbi, to his French compatriots,
the typical 19th Century French
lawyer.
Rene Cassin is that rare com-
bination of Jewish wisdom and
idealism and French method and
obstinacy. All these qualities have
been used throughout his life for a
single purpose: the rights of man,
or as Prof. Cassin himself said:
"All the rights and for all men,
Jews and non-Jews alike, for men
cannot really be free as long as
anti-Semitism or racism exists
anywhere in the world."
Rene Cassin was born Oct. 5,
1887, in the French city of Ba-
yonne, in a Jewish family which
had lived for centuries in France
while preserving Jewish traditions.
He studied law first at the Univer-
sity of Aix and then at the Sor-
bonne in Paris and was called to
the bar in 1909.
At the outbreak of World War I,
he volunteered for front-line action
in the French Army and was
wounded several times. He spent a
year in hospitals where he was
awarded the two highest French
decorations for bravery, the Croix
de Guerre and the Medaille Mili-
taire. At the end of the war, he
gave up his short-lived bar career
and joined the faculty of Aix Uni-
versity and several years later was
awarded a full professorship at the
University of Lille.
The cause which was nearest to
his heart in the immediate post-
war years was that of the millions
of orphans and widows of the
fallen soldiers. He launched a na-
tion-wide movement for the full
rehabilitation of war invalids and
adequate pensions for the families
of dead soldiers.
Cassin's real interest in Jewish
activities started with the rise to
power of Hitler. As Nazi Germany
conquered country after country,
Cassin drew closer to all forms of
Jewish life, warned France's Jews
that their country would soon be at
war too.
After the fall of France and Gen-
eral de Gaulle's historic appeal
from London to all Frenchmen to
join him and fight for freedom,
Prof. Cassin was the first to cross
over to London, where he joined
de Gaulle's war cabinet. He wrote
at that time many of de Gaulle's
speeches and drew up, as a con-
stitutional expert, the de Gaulle-
Churchill agreement which was to
serve as the basis for the war-
time relations between the two
countries.
In 1942, his official activities
brought him once again in contact
with organized Jewish life. In
January 1942, he headed the

I

French committee investigating
Nazi war crimes and later that
same year he was appointed chair-
man of the French commission for
public education. In that capacity
he visited the Alliance Israelite
Universelle school network in
North Africa and the Middle East,
and was at once irresistibly at-
tracted to the principles of the
organization, declining it: "Its task
is to form the best men, the best
women, the best Jews, the best
members of the human commu-
nity to serve humanity." From
that day on, Cassin was to devote
his life to the Alliance in which he
discerned another aspect of his
fight for the rights of man.

,

He saw his Alliance work and
his efforts in less specific Jewish
fields as part of the same struggle.
In 1945, he was the first French
delegate to UNESCO. A year later
he headed the French delegation
to the United Nations General As-
sembly. There he concentrated on
the subject closest to his heart: the
Universal Declaration of the Rights
of Man.

.

Tel Aviv U. Head
Charges Prejudice

TEL AVIV (JTA)—The president
of Tel Aviv University charged the
Israeli government with discrim-
ination against that institution.
Dr. George Wise, speaking on the
opening of the new academic year,
said his university does not re-
ceive the same budgetary alloca-
tion from the government as the
Hebrew University in Jerusalem
and the Haifa Technion.
Tel Aviv University has a cur-
rent enrollment of more than 9,000
students compared to over 12,000
at the Hebrew University and 5,600
at Technion. The latter is Israel's
oldest and largest technical col-
lege.

The natural progress of things is
for liberty to yield and government
to gain ground.—Thomas Jeffer-
son.

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JERUSALEM (JTA)—President
Zalman Shazar distributed the
first "Fighter Medals" to veterans
of pre-1948 organizations that
constituted the defense force of
Jewish Palestine and who fought
for Israel's independence.
Among them were several army
generals and cabinet members,
members of the Hagana, and the
other underground organizations,
Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern
group.
Also on hand to accept the
awards were descendants of the
early pioneer fighters who were
members of Hashomer (guards-
men), a force created when Tur-
key ruled Palestine, and relatives
of such legendary figures as Yosef
Trumpeldor, Sarah Aaronson, Dov
Hos and Gen. Itzhak Sadeh.
One contemporary recipient was
Capt. Ike Aharonovitz, who com-
manded the illegal refugee ship
Exodus in 1947.

1.re,

the French president used to ask
for advice. This period came to an
end last year when Gen. de Gaulle
abruptly changed his country's
policy in the Midle East, support-
ing the Arab cause and placing an
embargo on the shipment of the
Mirage planes which Israel had
bought in France.
Cassin was one of the few
Frenchmen to speak out against
the new line. He was practically
the only man in the country to tell
de Gaulle personally of his mis-
givings. After the president's press
conference of last autumn, during
which de Gaulle spoke of the Jews
as a "domineering nation," Cassin
reportedly had a stormy and pain-
ful meeting with de Gaulle. This
attitude is typical of the quiet-
spoken man with the little white
goatee who, all his life has placed
"human dignity and honesty"
above all other things.



Shazar Distributes Medals
to Israel's Pre-'48 Heroes



He brought to its elaboration his
Jewish humanitarianism and his
French pedantic method and ob-
stinacy. For several years he
worked out the legal basis for its
promulgation and then, with the
cooperation of Mrs. Eleanor Roose-
velt, entered the political fight to
bring about its ratification by the
United Nations.
He always found the time and
the patience to deal with Alliance
affairs, heading its committees,
presiding at its assemblies, indefa-
tigably visiting its schools. This
at a time when inside France he
served in one of the country's
highest posts — vice-president of
the State Council — the French
equivalent of the American Su-
preme Court with constitutional'
jurisdiction. He was the council's
nominal head, as minister of jus-
tice, taking the oath of office in
1959 when Charles de Gaulle be-
came president of France.
The two men have always been
close. For 20 years, Cassin used to
meet at least once a week with de
Gaulle, one of the handful of men

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
8—Friday, November 8, 1968

BIRMINGHAM BLOOMFIELD BANIM

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