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January 02, 1976 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1976-01-02

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2 January 2, 1976


Purely Commentary

Presidential Election Year's Lobbying Myths and the
Defensive Jewish Actions in Support of Israel . . .
New Alsop-Fulbright Charges Are Deplored

By Philip

Defenders of Free Speech: Their Rights as Well as Obligations

Freedom of speech, defense of human
liberties, vigilance and fair play must not be
treated as empty phrases.
The root of American libertarianism,
which is accepted as a privilege by all lovers
of liberty, is in a person's right to speak out.
Unless libertarians submit to tyranny, they
also have an obligation to assert themselves.
The pity is that eternal vigilance often
rests upon the few, and these often get tired.
That's when silence becomes an accessory to
In the process of seeking just rights, the
law has created an obstacle in what is
termed the lobby. What is forgotten is that
a lobby is not always biased, that it often
becomes an obligatory vehicle for justice.
There is a Jewish lobby and it admit-
tedly pleads for just rights for Israel.
The American experience has a rich rec-
ord of Jewish as well as other lobbyist activi-
ties. Jews, jointly with other American ele-
ments, campaigned for free immigration.
They joined in efforts for civil rights for
blacks and for elimination of discrimina-
tions against the defenseless.
Has the genius for libertarianism lost
recognition in the media, in politics, in the
ranks of the legislators?
The severeness of the recent criticisms
of the Israeli officials by Joseph Alsop in the
New York Times Magazine is the cause for
this concern over the denigration of the right
to speak out. How can a former popular col-
umnist, who has such a splendid record for
fairness, resort to the accusation that Israel
— and it includes Israel's friends — inter-
venes in American inner affairs.
Haven't lovers of liberty the duty to
speak out in defense of ideals they cherish as
just and to make appeals for fairness?
Hasn't the Jew the duty to act in sup-
port of war-threatened kinsmen?
What the accusation represents is an
abuse of the lobby and the obligation to
lobby for justice as the lobbyists view it.
The lobby has many aspects. Basically it
has a fair and honorable approach to princi-
ples for which people undertake to conduct a
public campaign.

A commendable comment on the lobby,
with a special view of the Jewish lobby, was
presented recently by Hyman Bookbinder,
who heads the American Jewish Committee
office in Washington. In one of his recent is-
sues of his very scholarly Washington Let-
ter, Bookbinder defined the issue as follows:
American history is replete with
instances of ardent advocacy on behalf
of some foreign country or some foreign
policy — Ireland, Armenia, Britain,
China, Marshall Plan, Truman Doc-
trine, Food For Peace, liberalized immi-
gration. With such a great proportion of
all Americans no more than a genera-
tion or two removed from Ellis Island, a
veritable "nation of immigrants," how
could it be different?
It is unfortunate that some recent
comments about ethnic pressures seem
to challenge the very right of an ethnic
or national or religious group to advo-
cate policies that may be prompted by
its group interests. There just is no such
exception required by law or custom or
common sense. (Is it less objectionable
for a non-Jew than a Jew to urge sup-
port for Israel)? The Constitution
grants all Americans the "right to peti-
tion"; it does not limit it to any group or
Unfortunately, our history is re-
plete too with reckless charges or insin-
uations against ethnic or religious
groups of divided loyalty, dual loyalty,
disloyalty — even sedition and treason.
In all of our history, however, no ethnic
or religious group has ever been found
guilty of anti-American behavior. And
no such group has ever abandoned
America, spiritually or physically.
If anything, the generalization can
be supported that "hyphenated" Ameri-
cans have been more consciously pro-
American and patriotic than those with
long roots in this country. This writer
remembers vividly the reply Sidney
Hillman once gave a senator who ques-
tioned his Americanism: "Unlike you,
Senator, I chose to be an American."

The issue is clear, unselfish, demonstra-
ble of a sacred duty to strive for fair play.
Israel is in distress. American Jewry is
equally distressed by obstacles to the free-
doms of fellow Jews and fellow men.
Call it lobby, if one wishes. It is the
same basic principle that motivated Ameri-
cans whenever there was a battle for justice.
The American ideal of fair play fortifies the
rights of those who, while called lobbyists,
are truly battlers for a basic ideal.
History reveals conclusively that when
one people is oppressed the freedoms of oth-
ers are endangered.
Let there be an end to the abuse of Jews
and Israelis and adherence to the demand
for fair play! Let not the political charge, in
a presidential or any other year, undermine
the duty to be vigilant. Vigilance is the
guideline for eternal liberty and fearless-
ness is a basic principle in attaining this ma-
jor American right.

Fulbright Back on Scene
With More Inflamations

As if there wasn't enough rancor to
create suspicion and to incite doubt about Is-
rael's struggles, former U.S. Senator J. W.
Fulbright has returned to the scene of dis-
cord. In a seven-page article in last month's
Worldview magazine he gave his views on the
Middle East issues under the title "Beyond
the Sinai Agreement." He went far beyond it
and the related matters affecting Israel. He
didn't leave anything out and his well known
attitudes were fully reiterated. He doesn't
advocate Israel's destruction. On the con-
trary: he adheres to a view of keeping Israel
alive. But the realistically defensive, mecha-
nisms for Israel not only are lacking in his
proposals but those that are valid and vitally
necessary are obliterated. The certainty is
that he would have Israel submit to complete
withdrawal from lines which became neces-
sary in 1967 for a greater amount of secu-
All of his repeated arguments are old
cliches and among the most disturbing, also
like an old missile hurled at Israel, reverber-

ates like a poisoned dagger at American
Once again, Fulbright chose to allude to
the myth of a Jewish vote as a weapon and
the current presidential year as an occasion
for what could be interpreted as diabolical
intent. The former U.S. Senator stated in his
Worldview essay:
"The key to peace in the Middle East is
in the internal politics of the United States.
As long as the Israeli lobby retains its ex-
traordinary power to mobilize large majori-
ties- in Congress, the executive will be accord
ingly hobbled in any efforts it may care to
make to bring the Middle East antagonists
to a peace based on Security Council Resolu-
tion 242. As long as congressmen and sena-
tors are unwilling to face the political risk,
possible loss of campaign contributions, and
personal unpleasantness of well-organized
pressure campaigns, we can expect little in
the Middle East except deadlock, terrorism,
tedious negotiations with little if any result,
and in due course, sooner or later, the fifth
Arab-Israeli war."

This is the sort of accusatory specula-
tion and the distortion about lobbying that
needs to be totally rejected so that the Amer-
ican electorate may not be led into believing
that some villainy is being plotted at its ex-
pense. What Fulbright does again is drag a
foreign American issue and an obligatory
friendship with another nation into the pol-
itical conflict involving Democrats and Re-
publicans in both of whose ranks there are
friends of Israel and commitments to an ide-
ology of guaranteeing Israel's survival. Ful-
bright acts as if he, too, supports security for
Israel, but his proposals would negate. it.
And in the process of making the Zionist ap-
proach a political consideration he makes Is-
rael a scapegoat, wills nilly.
This type of resort to suspicion also in-
cites to anti-Semitism. If Jews are to be
viewed as plotting selfish motivations during
a presidential campaign, doesn't it contrib-
ute to prejudice, to unavoidable hatreds in
some ranks, and therefore to anti-Semitism?

A Detroiter Visits Curacao's 300-Year-Old Synagogue


Editor's note: Patricia
Pilling is an instructor at
Wayne State University.
In August she visited the
oldest synagogue in the
Western Hemisphere,
Temple Mikve Israel-
Emanuel on the island of
Curacao in the Netherland
Antilles. She describes her
visit in the following arti-
One enters the temple
compound through a huge
metal door and immediately
one feels in a place of peace.
The temple is beautiful —
with carved and polished
woodwork and hanging
lamps — all in simple eleg-
ance. On the floor is pure
white sand.
When I arrived, two men
were on the raised bima
area. One was reading and
the other, was polishing
metal objects in readiness
for the service that evening.
Nearby, two Black men
wearing yarmulkes were
also working, aided by two
Black women all dressed in
Senorita Miriam Capriles
is in charge of the Temple
Museum, under the direc-
torship of Dr. Jessy Jesu-
run, a local dentist whose
family have been residents
of Curacao for more than
350 years.
Miss Capriles said the
Museum once had been the

house of the rabbi of the
congregation. The upstairs
was still in process of repair
and she apologized for the
absence of plaster in some
of the rooms.
She emphasized that the
museum is a living mu-
seum — on Friday after-
noons the silver crowns
for the Torah scrolls are
carefully removed from
their locked cases for use
at the evening service.
Silver bowls from mu-
seum display cases are used
at Purim services.
Bnai Mitzva are quite
frequent. Some are for boys
who come down from the
States with their families to
hold this special day in the
oldest synagogue in the
Western Hemisphere.
Since the Sephardic and
Ashkenazic congregations
joined in 1954, only one
marriage had taken place
between two persons of
those different traditions.
Outside the museum
there is a small courtyard,
which includes copies of
several of the gravestones
from the old Jewish ceme-
tery. This cemetery is now
within the confines of the
Shell Oil Co. refinery and
fumes have caused great
damage to the grave-
stones. There is now a
Jewish cemetery much
closer to town.
At one side of the court-

yard a small mikva was un-
covered. Upstairs in the
museum, there are kitchen
and other utilitarian ob-
jects. The downstairs sec-
tion is devoted exclusively to
sacred objects and objects of
an historical nature such as

marriage and other docu-

but the world inside the
temple area is one of tran-
quility and peace.

An iron fence separates
this quiet world from the
rest of Curacao. When the
shutters are open the busy
streets outside may be seen

The children of the con-
gregation now learn He-
brew and are taught Jew-
ish traditions. Miss

Capriles said when she
was young there was less
formal Jewish cultural
Rene Maduro, president
of the- synagogue, said the
biggest problem is its dim-
inishing size.

A Bicentennial Feature

Barnard Gratz: Colonial merchant, Leader


Editor, Jewish Currents

Barnard Gratz and his
younger brother Michael
played a significant role in
the economic life of the colo-
nial, revolutionary and
early national period of our
history, as merchants and
particularly as bold entre-
preneurs in opening up the
West for trade and land
Born in Langendorf, Ger-
many, grandson of a Polish
rabbi Jonathan and son of
Shelomo Zalman Gratz,
Barnard was orphaned as a
boy, got to London as a
youth, and found his way to
Philadelphia in Jan., 1754,
where he completed with
David Franks an appren-
ticeship begun in London
with a brother of Franks.
By 1760 Barnard formed
a partnership with his
brother Michael and be-
gan to engage in interco-
lonial trade with the West
Indies. Dec. 10, 1760 Bar-

-the Illinois Company.
In July, 1776, Barnard
was at Fort Pitt, negotiat-
ing with the Indians for
trade and purchase of In-
dian lands. Soon he was
supplying Washington's
army with blankets and leg-
At that time he was al-
ready the head of the first
nard, then 22, married Jewish congregation in Phil-
Richea Myers Cohen, then adelphia, which in 1782 be-
came Cong. Mikveh Israel.
Hard hit by British mer- Supporting the revolution-
cantilism, which tried to ary cause, Barnard left
restrict intercolonial trade Philadelphia when the Bri-
and colonial manufacture, tish occupied it.
Zealous of the right to
Barnard was among the
375 Philadelphia mer- Jewish equality, Barnard
chants that signed a non- joined a petition Dec., 1783
importation (boycott) of the Philadelphia Jewish
agreement Oct. 25, 1765 community's leadership
(eight other Philadelphia for an amendment to the
1776 State Constitution
Jewish merchants also
because it kept Jews from
It was at this point that public office, and in 1797 in
Gratz began to concentrate Baltimore he was one of
his attention on opening up five Jews who initiated a
the western lands, partici- struggle to amend the
pating in such ventures as Maryland Constitution,

which had a similar disa-
bility for Jews.
At the same time, he
shared the prevalent contra-
diction between slavery and
the slogan, men are
created equal," and owned
one or more slaves. His busi-
ness and personal letters
were in Yiddish; more than
250 still exist.



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