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January 30, 1970 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1970-01-30

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Who Is a Jew? Israel High Court Decision Causes Furor

tins between Jews in and outside British Jews, said he didn't think
that the Anglo-Jewish community
Rabbi Henry Siegman, executive would be affected by the court's
vice president of the Synagogue decision. He said British Jews
Council of America, an umbrella would continue to adhere to reli-
organization embracing the Re- gious law which holds that only the
form, Conservative and Orthodox offspring of a Jewish mother is
branches of Judaism in America, Jewish.
The Daily Telegraph quoted
said that the decision "may very
well trigger something the Jewish "diplomatic circles" in London as
that the court's ruling
community has been trying to
avoid—a Kulturkampf, a cultural would encourage thousands of per-
conflict between religious and sec- sons in Britain, America and
Europe to emigrate to Israel. The
ular Jews."
The -Rabbinical Alliance, which paper said its sources thought
the decision was important to
has often been at odds with
other Orthodox factions, blamed "Jews who have married people
the Israeli Supreme Court's deci- of other faiths."
The Israel Ministry of Inte-
sion on so-called "liberal" Ortho-
rior Monday ordered its Haifa
doxy. It claimed that the "liberal"
office to delay the registration
Orthodox rabbinate helped gener-
of the children of Cmdr. Shalit
ate an attitude of disregard for the
as Jews by nationality. The in-
sanctity of Jewish religious law by
structions were issued in the ex-
association with non-Orthodox rab-
binic and synagogue bodies. The pectation that the Knesset will
legislation nullifying the
Orthodox Agudat Israel of Amer-
ica denounced the Israeli court's
ruling by the Supreme Court.
ruling and claimed that it would
The National Religious Party
"give huge impetus to the vanish- threatened Sunday to resign
ing Jew by encouraging assimila- from the national coalition govern-
tion." The organization's executive ment unless legislation is intro-
board contended that the decision duced in the Knesset reversing the
removed one of the major deter- high court's decision. Most politi-
rents to intermarriage. It urged
cal observers believe the religious
"traditional Jews to unite in a party will have its way as it has
massive effort to change the laws
on previous occasions when issues
of Israel" to conform with the arose questioning the Orthodox in-
Orthodox concept of Jewish iden-
terpretation of who is a Jew. Labor
Leaders of Conservative and Party and NRP leaders met Sun-
day night and reportedly reached
Reform Judaism in America, an "understanding."
The - right-
which have no counterpart in Is-
wing nationalist Herut party, a
rael, withheld comment.
component of Gahal, the second
The chief rabbi of Great Britain
largest political faction in Israel,
said in a BBC interview Friday
came out in support of the Reli-
that he was concerned that the
Party's demands. Its Gahal
court decision might "drive a
national interest of the United nett, Mrs. William Lieberson, Mrs. wedge" between Jews and would partner, the Liberal Party, is yet
States to try—unasked—to nego- Allen Berlin and Walter Klein, di- create difficulties in matters of
The attorney general said he
tiate for the Israelis." He said rector of the Jewish Community personal status which are under
was considering initiating crimi-
that Israelis had "good reasons Council.
the jurisdiction of rabbi ni c a I
nal proceedings against persons
for their fears." He asked that Israelis Hail Nixon's
have written threatening
the U.S. government refrain Statement as Eloquent
Alderman Michael Fidler, presi-
letters to Supreme Court justices
from being "the architect of a Expression of Friendship
dent of the Board of Deputies of
Shalit case. The justices
settlement which settles nothing,
disclosed that they received
but tends toward yet another dent Nixon's message to the
many letters while the case was
round of war." Harris said that American-Jewish leadership con- Lebanese Official
still sub judice trying to influ-
many Americans had questioned ference in Washington, was hailed Deplores Bombing
ence their decisions, which con-
U.S. involvement in Vietnam but
by Premier Golda Meir as an
stitutes contempt of court under
that "the American stake in the "eloquent expression" of "the of Jewish School
law. They did not dis-
future of the state of Israel is
friendship of the United States for
LONDON (JTA)—The Lebanese
close the identity of the letter
not debatable." He favorably Israel and its concern for Israel's interior minister condemned the
writers but said that some of
noted Israel's need for financial security and peace." Mrs. Meir bombing of a Jewish school build-
the letters came from govern.
help and arms.
issued her statement Sunday night ing in Beirut and assured leaders
ment sources and were written
Sen. Gordon Allott of Colorado, in response to questions by news- of Lebanon's Jewish community
on official state letterheads.
chairman of the Republican Policy men. She said she saw reflected in that the government would protect
The attorney general said the
Committee, told the conference the sentiments and policies of the its Jewish citizens.
writers of those letters enjoyed
Kamal Jumblatt called on Chief parliamentary immunity and could
that he knew that President Nixon Nixon message, "the attitude
would do "everything he can both which I encountered in my con- Rabbi Shahoul Shelim and mem- not be prosecuted. But threatening
economically and Militarily to as- versations with the President last bers of the Jewish Community letters, received after the court
sure the security of Israel, short of September and which I reported Council. After inspecting the dam- ruling in the case by the five jus-
supplying manpower in the area." upon my return." Mrs. Meir said, aged school he described the tices who wrote the majority deci-
He added "there can be no ques- "Being deeply concerned at cer- bomb explosion early Monday sion, could be the subject of crimi-
tion of any weakening of support tain United States diplomatic ini- morning as an "ugly act that we nal proceedings, he said. He said
for Israel's sovereignty, security tiatives, we have never lost sight all condemn" and said the author- that those letters came mostly
and strength by the 'U.S. govern- and always gave expression to the ities were continuing their investi- from religious fanatics who occupy
ment. The U.S. government has no broad range of interests and ob- gations.
no official positions. The number
Jumblatt told the chief rabbi that of letters was not disclosed.
intention of permitting Israel to jectives that our two countries
he considered it his "duty to ex-
become militarily vulnerable. The have in common."
Observers believe the govern-
Mrs. Meir's apparent satisfac- press my dismay over the attack
Phantom aircraft which continue
ment will introduce secondary leg-
to arrive in Israel are evidence of tion with the President's message on the Jewish school and show that islation that will enable the minis-
was echoed by several Israeli we differentiate between a Jew and
this fact."
ter of interior to instruct clerks to
newspapers which received and a Zionist."
Other speakers included Prof.
register Israelis as Jews according
published its full text.
Police said the bombing, which
Hans J. Morgenthau of the Uni-
to religious precepts. These in-
Mrs. Meir said in her official
versity of Chicago; Father Edward
structions could be amended by
statement: "The sincere quest for work of "hired agents" who
H. Flannery, executive secretary
another interior minister at some
a real and lasting peace was al- wanted to d e f ame Lebanon
for Catholic-Jewish Relations, Na-
future time. The present minister
ways the primary goal of both the
of interior, Moshe Shapiro, heads
tional Conference of Bishops; Dr.
Franklin Littell, professor of re- United States and Israel. I am mosphere of provocation from
the National Religious Party.
ligion, Temple University; and An- hopeful that the President's mes- which the enemy," meaning Is-
Observers said the government
sage and policies based on it will rael, "could benefit so he may is anxious not to delay the matter
drew Young, executive vice presi-
convince all concerned that this feed his propaganda against
because delay would enable more
dent of the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference, the move- goal can be established as the Lebanon."
extreme religious parties to de-
President himself indicates, only
The bombing was also denounced mand stricter legislation or secular
ment created by the late Rev.
through a freely negotiated agree- by El Fatah, the Palestinian or- parties to seek parliamentary af-
Martin Luther King, Jr.
ment between the parties to the ganization which issued a state-
There were 21 Detroiters at the conflict. Until peace is established, ment claiming that the Palestinian firmation of the court's decision.
One possibility mentioned is that
conference. A five-man delegation Israel must be in a pbsition to
revolution was fighting against the government will drop the cate-
represented the Flint Jewish com- deter threats to its security. In
raicial discrimination.
gory of nationality from identity
this context I have noted with
It praised Jews who have refused cards, leaving only religion. That
The Detroiters included Law- gratification President Nixon's to emigrate to Israel and said "We would render the Supreme Court's
rence Gubow, chairman, Hubert : statement that his government is stretch out our hand for their pro- decision academic. Such a move
Sidlow, co-chairman, Charles Feb. prepared to supply military equip- tection." Joseph Atiyah, head of
was suggested when the high court
berg, Rabbi James I. Gordon, Al- ment necessary to support our ef- the Jewish Community Council first opened hearings in the Shalit
bert Silber, George Rubin, Zeldon ; forts to defend the safety of our which represents most of Leba- case nearly a year ago but was re-
Cohen, Mrs. Joseph Maltzer, Mrs. I people. The urgency of assisting non's 3,000 Jews, praised the gov- jected by the government at the
Emanuel Ravet, Mrs. Philip Min- Israel to maintain its capability to ernment's response to the explo- time.
km, Albert Portnoy, Lawrence , deter aggression and to defend it- sion. He said Jews in Lebanon had
The government is most anxious
Magid, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Kraft, self has become more acute in the always been treated well.
to avoid a cabinet crisis that would
Dr. and Mrs. Elmer Ellias, Ben- light of recent developments in the
be precipitated by a Religious Par-
jamin Laikin, Mrs. Morton Bar- area regarding the massive supply
Passivity is in essential feature ty walk-out and also to mute the
of military equipment to the Arab of the highest form of leisure.
controversy which has aroused
—Salvador de Madariaga passions on both sides of the issue.

(Continued from Page 1)
that the ruling could lead to a
situation where a person was con-
sidered a gentile abroad but a
Jew in Israel. Another Orthodox
leader, Dr. Zerach Warhafitg, the
minister for religious affairs, de-
manded in the cabinet to know
what the government's stand was
in the controversy. The minister
of justice, Yacov Shimshon Sha-
piro, outlined the court's decision
and its constitutional implications.
Two Orthodox political factions,
Agudat Israel and Poalei Agudat
Israel, have already submitted
private members' bills to the
Knesset which would overturn the
court's decision. Opinion was div-
ided in political circles over how
the Knesset would act. A majority
appeared to believe that some sort
of legislation would be adopted
eventually that would preclude any
distinction between Jewish nation-
ality and religion. Minister-With-
out-Portfolio Victor Shemtov, of
the Mapam faction, said he did
not believe the cabinet would
make any attempt to alter the ma-
jority decision of the court.
In testimony to the implica-
tions of the issue, the nine jus-
tices wrote nine separate opin-
ions, totaling 180 pages. Only
three of the justices were pres-
ent when the decision was hand-
ed down. They said that be-
cause of its length, they would
not follow the usual procedure

of reading out the entire ruling.
Participating in the narrow ma-
jority decision were Justices Joel
Sussman, Zvi Berinson, Alfred
Vitkon, Haim Cohen and Eliahu
Mani. The minority justices were
President Shimon Agranat, Retir-
ing President Moshe Silberg and
Moshe Landau and Itzhak Kister.
Justices Silberg and Kister are
known to be personally observant
The majority held that the Jew-
ish religion was not identical with
Jewish nationality and that an in-
dividual could belong to the "Jew-
ish nation" without being a Jew by
Justice Sussman wrote that "the
test of religion is not decisive with
regard to nationality."
Justice Cohen wrote that he was
not dealing with that question,
basing his opinion on the finding
that the registrar had no au-
thority to make decisions as a
purely functional officer. Justice
Cohen said that the clerk must
accept any statement made by a
person registering himself or de-
pendents and that the clerk may
not list any information contrary
to the wishes or declarations of a
The minority held that the "Jew-
ish nation" could not be separated
from the Jewish religion.. Justice
Silberg wrote that "any search for
new definitions" as to who is a
Jew "means a negation of the con-

I tinuity of the nation's existence."
Lt. Cmdr. Shalit said he could
not comment on the ruling because
he was on active duty. Attorney
General Meir Shager, who argued
the government's case, comment-
ed only that "the matter has now
been removed to the political
Some political observers said
that an attempt might be made to
change Israel's legislation to con-
form with the Jewish religious
view which holds that a Jew is an
individual born of a Jewish mother
or converted to Juadism in accord
with Jewish religious law.
The court hearings were held by
an unprecedented panel of nine
justices, comprising all present
members of the Supreme Court,
which normally has 10 members.
There is a current vacancy caused
by the resignation of Benjamin
Halevy, who was elected to the
American Orthodox Jewish lead-
ers denounced the Supreme Court
ruling. Rabbi Norman Lamm, pro-
fessor of Jewish philosophy at
Yeshiva University, charged that
the court "sacrificed the unity of
Jewish people on an altar of a pro-
vincial liberalism or less charit-
ably on a socio-political expedi-
ence." Rabbi Zev Segal, president
of the Rabbinical Council of Amer-
ica called the ruling a glaring vio-
lation of Halakha which could
bring a "tragic rupture into rela-

Emergency Conference Delegates
Heartened by President's Message

(Continued from Page 1)
Department at bilateral and Big
Four talks, the conference reso-
lution said the initiatives "sug-
gest pre-determined E g y p t-
Israel borders; that Jordan
share in the administration of
Jerusalem; and that the Arab
refugees be repatriated under a
formula that would flood Israel
iwtb those bent upon its destruc-
tion." The resolution said such
proposals "endanger the secu-
rity of Israel and imperil the
cause of a just and lasting peace
in the Middle East."
Rabbi Herschel Schacter of New
York, general chairman of the con-
ference, said he was gratified by
the President's "assurances on the
need for Arab-Israeli negotiations."
But he warned that "Israel must
not be bound or limited in those
negotiations by the State Depart-
ment's proposals." He said that the
proposals must be withdrawn "if
the negotiations are to have any
meaning and any chance of suc-
cess." The conference urged the
U.S. to provide Israel with "suf-
ficient economic and military
strength to deter any Arab ruler
from aggression." The resolution
said that "in the light of the mas-
sive arms shipments to Arab
states by the Soviet Union, France
and other countries, it is impera-
tive that the U.S. continue to sup-
port the security of Israel with the
military equipment she so urgently
Dr. Wexler said the President's
words indicated to him that the
President "wants no further ero-
sion in American policy." He
stressed that "our disagreement
with American policy has not been
over motivations or intentions but
over tactics." He assailed recent
State Department initiatives as
having "poorly served American
interests, American prestige,
American credibility.
Sen. Fred R. Harris, of Okla-
homa, chairman of the Demo-
cratic National Committee, ad-
dressed the conference with a
charge that the Nixon adminis-
tration was changing "traditional
policy toward Israel" and jeo-
pardizing that country. He called
for a public explanation of the
shift. He said it was "not in the


36 Friday, January 30, 1970

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