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February 13, 1970 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1970-02-13

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Purely Commentary

By Philip

shortcoming in the Jewish humani-
tarian ranks that seek amity but
get no comfort for their views from
There are other mounting prob-
lems in the field of public rela-
tions, in the propaganda mills
that are grinding out so much
hatred. A typical example con-
fronted us this week in the re-
port of a Detroit church page ed-
itor who, in Israel, was troubled
by the reports of the demolition
of Arab terrorists' homes by Is-
rael. But he used as the basis
for his inquiry the vilest state-
ments that had been leveled
against Israel in some years—
the untruths that emanated from
the correspondent of the London
Times, E. C. Hodgkin, who
charged that '7,500 or more such
homes were destroyed. The ac-
tual figure is less than 600, and
the Detroiter was given that
data. But the same sort of hurt
that created a story in England
when the London Times story
was published could arise here
because the locally published
statement really emphasized the
untrue large figure and might
never get a hearing for the refu-
There were other imnuendos in
the locally presented report that
may serve damagingly to Israel's
discredit—all because there is an
insufficiency of truth in reports
from the Middle East. It would
have been wiser, if the actual con-
dition is to be outlined, to quote
the story on both the Arab and Is-
rael sides. The story from Cairo
brought by Time was that the cur-
rent comment about Nasser's an-
alysis is in the Egyptian dictator's
capital: "If it took us nine months
to destroy 60 per cent of the Bar-
The Enemies Within
Lev line, how long will it take us
If we are to look for enemies, we won't have far to go. There are to destroy' the remaining 100 per
the enemies within.
Alfred Lilienthal, who shares with Moshe Menuhin the role of the
vilest in animosity of Jews towards Jews, spoke in Windsor last week.
He emitted all his hatred against Israel and even chastised Americans Genocide and the Bar
Will the American Bar Associa-
for permitting UJA to be a tax deductible cause. And his pal Moshe
Menohin keeps writing poison letters against Israel to many news- tion again stand in the way of our
government's ratification of the
We don't have to look for enemies among the assimilated and International Convention for the
assimilating: you'll find them in an extreme orthodox circle. Neturei Prevention and Punishment of
Karta have come to life again — from headquarters of the Brooklyn Genocide?
Secretary of State William P.
chapter that has found some dough for a paid advertisement in the
New York Times to call Zionism "the enemy of the Jewish people." Rogers and Attorney General John
They resort to the shocking repetitive accusation of double loyalty. Mitchell have reportedly recom-
Here is an example of the inhumanity that is certainly stupidity mended to President Richard 31.
inserted in that ad: "Zionism aims at uprooting Jews in countries Nixon that this convention, which
throughout the world in order to find immigrants for its nationalistic was first adopted by the United
and militaristic state which usurps, without any justification, the holy Nations in 1948, should be ratified
by the United States which has
name of Israel."
There is no doubt that 99.9 per cent of orthodox Jews, after squirm- failed to join the other 75 ratify-
ing upon reading such an ad, must have decided to ignore the insane ing nations in approving the im-
who speak in the name of God. Indeed, they do not deserve being dig- portant international decision.
nified, except that they are spending lots of money to harm the Jew-
The Genocide Convention went
ish people and that, at least, should be called attention.
into effect without U.S. ratifica-
So—who do we boycott first—France or the insane in our ranks tion on Jan. 12, 1951. President
who call themselve the guardians of the gates (Neturei Karta)?
Harry S. Truman urged the U.S.
Senate foreign - relations commit-
tee to give it an okay as early
!bud Seeks New Breath of Life
as 199.
There are many ways of harming a cause. One is by one-sided
Great Britain, like the U.S.,
approaches to humane ideas.
hesitated to ratify the important
Before statehood in Eretz Israel, there was a powerful and well- decision but it finally became the
meaning group—among them Dr. Judah L. Magnes, then president of 75th nation to adopt it on Jan. 30.
the Hebrew University, Prof. Martin Buber and Henrietta Szold—who But the United States remains
formed an organization known as Ihud which sought the unity of Jews hesitant because the American
and Arabs and advocated a bi-national state as a way of eliminating Bar Association has acted to dis-
strife and merging the two peoples into one government.
courage it. Will the ABA continue
The trouble with these early efforts Was that while it needed aban- to be a stumbling block in an
donment of Jewish aspirations for sovereignty as Jews, it never as important international obligation?
much as received evidence of interest in the idea from any responsible There will no doubt be a lot of
pressure finally to assure Ameri-
This movement seems to have received a bit of breath through the can action. Perhaps this will be
efforts of a Dr. Simon Shereshevsky. It has even acquired support another of the good luck occur-
from a group that lists itself as "Friends of the 'Ihud' in 'America." rences for President Nixon who
And now as before the question must be posed: does this group have may be blessed with the privilege
even the minutest support in Arab quarters?
of signing the Genocide Conven-
There is lots to be said about new proposals—such as a Palestinian tion document.
• • •
Arab state, and occasional referral to the idea of binationalism. But all
are one-sided. There are few Arabs who grasp at the Jewish-made Essentials of a Cease Fire
ideas. If Arabs were truly interested in a new Palestinian Arab state
A battle on the Golan Heights
they would, of necessity, have to go to Hussein, ask him to abdicate lasted for four hours was termi-
and take that area which was Trans-Jordan as a creation of Winston nated when a truce was arranged
by United Nations observers.
Indeed, there never was an Arab nation in Palestine as it does not This was accomplished at about
now exist in or near Israel. But something akin to it is emerging in the same time that Israel's Prime
the ranks of refugees residing in Jordan. They could, as perhaps they Minister Golda Meir stated that
should, merge with the refugees in Gaza who have been kept stateless Israel was ready to stop retaliat-
by Nasser, and jointly form the state envisioned for them within the ing for Arab terrorist acts as soon
Jordanian area in the United Nations partition plan.
as the Arabs stop shooting. In
Meanwhile all sorts of pamphlets have been published advocating other words, Israel desires. to ad-
a variety of ideas relating to Palestinian Arabism. All come from Jews: here to a cease fire. That would
none has gotten Arab approval or any sentiments from quarters where introduce preliminaries to negotia-
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS all you hear is either "kill the Jews" or "destroy Israel." That's the tions.

'Who Is a Jew?' , , Complications Galore,
With Secularists Playing Significant Role
Lt. Comm. Benjamin Shalit of the Israel army gained a point In
his suit which resulted in the abortive Supreme Court decision on
"Who Is a Jew" in that his children were registered as Jews. The
entire case poses many interesting points. First, there is the case of
Shalit's wife, Anne, who, like her husband, is not at all religious,
refuses to adopt the Jewish faith because she does not even adhere
to that of her birth, Christian in background. Their children speak
Hebrew and are like all Israeli children except that they do not attend
synagogue. But neither do many of the Jewish children who are of
acknowledged Jewish parentage on both sides. -
Then there are the secularists in our ranks who will not recognize
anything relating to religion or the synagogue but who insist on being
listed as Jews.
On this score it is interesting to note that in another Israeli case
several years ago, when the Jewess-by-birth Tereska Levin, who had
become a Catholic, was denied recognition in Israel and the Israeli
viewpoint was disputed by Irving S. Abrams, a secularist Jewish
scholar, a leader in Arbeiter Ring and
Jewish Labor Committee, who wrote his
protest to the magazine Point of View of
Workmen's Circle. Abrams' views were
answered by an eminent American Jew-
ish scholar, Prof. Israel Knox, who stated
"What makes the Jews a people is
not race nor political-territorial national-
ism but their membership, as it were, in
a community of memory and imagination
as orchestrated by a vision of life. We
can talk about secularism significantly
only in a specific, empirical sense. But
in the perspective of our millennial his-
tory, there is no denying that the Jewish
people and the Jewish idea (call it re-
ligion, if you will) grew up together, and
Prof. Knox
to read Jewish history exclusively in
terms of the one or the other, is to distort Jewish history and to miss
its interior quality. You can extol secularism to the very sky, but can
one possibly celebrate Jewish holidays without some trace of Jewish
tradition? The so-called third seder is still called seder, and it is,
despite all efforts (and perhaps intentionally so) a modified and modu-
lated version of the Passover seder, of the epic story of the Exodus,
of the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. To denude Jewish holi-
days, Jewish existence, of all tradition is to empty it of content, of dis-
tinctiveness, indeed, is to cheapen and debase it. (For myself, I'm
anxious to add that I cannot see how one can omit from the list of
Jewish holidays the Sabbath, how one can fail to light the Sabbath
candles on Friday evening or say the Kiddush.)
"To be a Jew is not dependent on race or biology or a segment of
space; to be a Jew is to belong to an ethical-spiritual community, to a
community of memory and imagination. Friend Abrams is a Jew be-
cause he is one of this community, because his parents chose to step
into Jewish history, and because like them he is the son and heir of
a hundred generations with their cumulative and collective joys and
sorrows, heroism and martyrdom (including their tragic experiences
during the Crusades). One need not cite corroborative authority for
this, but there is a classic precedent. It is the famous letter of Maim-
onides (1135-1204) to a ger, a convert to Judaism, who was baffled by
this very question and wanted to know whether he too was entitled to
refer to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob as his "fathers." And Maim-
onides answered him, long before Hitler, yemach sh'mo (may his
name be obliterated), that to be a Jew is not a function of race but of
ideas and convictions, and that it may well be that his status is higher
because he chose to become a son of the "fathers," to embrace freely
and voluntarily their heritage. And the Talmud itself contains this
beautiful thought (among others): The souls of all the gerim of all the
ages were at Sinai together with the souls of the rest of the Jews
when God formed his covenant with Israel.
"Friend Abrams states that he is a confirmed atheist. Well, so are
many other Jews—some are agnostics and some are atheists and still
others are just non-religious (in the institutional or in the formal sense).
I repeat that the Jew who describes himself as agnostic or atheist or
secularist is still a Jew, but he is no longer a Jew if he goes over to
Christianity or Islam. This very act of going over takes one out of
the house of Jewish history; he is then no longer a sharer in Jewish
experience; he has cut himself off from a community of memory and
imagination; he has severed himself from a hundred generations. And
this too must not be left out of sight: the agnostic or secularist or
atheist has no special bias against Judaism, he rejects religion as
such, and if he rejects Jewish religion or is indifferent to it, he com-
pensates for it by stressing other aspects of Jewish existence—history,
culture, ethics—aware all the time that there is the breath of eternity
in them. The convert to another religion has a special bias against
Judaism and a special bias for the new religion and is aware all the
time that there is a clash—not necessarily contradiction, yet at least a
clash—between them. The agnostic or atheist regards religion as out-
moded or as a relic of man's ancient past, but the convert regards
religion as the road to salvation and as the repository of supreme
truth. For the convert Judaism is a false religion or a religion that
has been superseded, or else it is no religion at all, and he would
equate Judaism solely with race or territory. Tereska Levin, Brother
Daniel, and their like, may be good citizens of Medinat Yisrael, of
the state of Israel, but they have no share in the history and culture
and destiny of Am Yisrael, of the people that is Israel."
And so, the atheists do not have it their own way altogether: there
is a complicated Jewish position which becomes less complicated when
the overwhelming attitude among Jews is considered; that attitude
accepts a Jewish perspective that can not be denied. But it will need
further clarification and eventually there may be less and less pro-
testing against the root in Judaism, which is the faith idea.
It should be noted, in the case of Shalits, that Anne Shalit is a
granddaughter of the great town planner, Sir Patrick Geddes. Sir Pat-
rick, a noted sociologist, was irreligious. But he came to Palestine in
1918 and became one of the great friends and supporters of the Zionist
cause. Mrs. Shalit's mother, a French women, was a direct descendant
of the French anarchist Elisee Reclus who did not believe in God and
opposed marriage.
The Shalits were married in Scotland in 1960, came to Israel in

2—Friday, February 13, 1970

Requisite of Jewish Fealties in Arriving at
Definition of Who is a Jew . . . Numerous
Enemies Within . • . Correspondents' Failures

1964, their son Oren was born that year and his father registered him
as of Jewish nationality but religion "none." The recording clerk marked
both "none." When Galya was born another clerk marked the record
as father's nationality Jewish, mother being noted as a "foreigner" and
religion "none."
It has been rumored that Mrs. Shalit had reached a point of
willingness to adopt the Jewish faith, but her husband, the extremist
in atheism, stood in the way. That, too, is understandable in consider-
ing many secularist, atheist or agnostic attitudes.
The Shalit case is one of many that have arisen in Israel. There
was, for example, the incident involving David Ben-Gurion's son, who
was married to a non-Jewish girl who was converted to Judaism by a
Reform rabbi in London, 20 years ago. When Ben-Gurion's granddaugh-
ter wanted to get married she faced the very strict Israeli regulations
and both she and her mother, the former Christian whose conversion
in a Reform temple was not recogni7Pd, had to undergo conversion
all over again.
That's how complications set in and it may be some years before
Israel has a definitely established code in this matter of Jewishness and
acceptability either of converts or of naturalized citizens who do not
abandon the faith into which they were born.
Yet it must be conceded that what is happening now is to the
good, that it must lead to clarification of the muddied issues, that
it will undoubtedly lead to adoption of more sound, more pragmatic,
more reasonable regulations for conversions to Judaism.
Every wholesome debate should lead to pragmatic accomplish-
ments. That's the expectation from the current "Who's a Jew" discus-
sion and conflict.

The Boycott ... Who's First?
Lots of people would like to boycott France. They mean, of course,
Pompidou, just as they would have liked to punish de Gaulle.
When you speak of boycotts, who's to be the fiirst to be punished?
Is it Great Britain for some of its antagonisms, or Greece for training
Arabs to fly jets in attacks on Israel, or so many others who try to
harm us and often succeed?
How can we boycott France when so many Frenchmen protest as
vigorously against Pompidou as we do?
Or—should we boycott the Pentagon for training Arab flyers on a
par with Israelis—which really is the case? But a majority in both
houses of Congress is pro-Israel—favoring Israel in the sense that they
will not condone another Holocaust?
Perhaps it isn't the boycott. It is the vigilance that counts—and our
people's vigilance in defense of Israel also is related to practical help.
That's where UJA and Israel Bonds and the various Zionist causes
come in for generosity, without which not only Israel but all of us will
be lost.

* •

• •

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