Friday; Deeembei. 24; 1976
THE' DETHOlt JEWISH NEWS
Privacy of People in Public Life
in Their Religious Affiliations
A person's religious affiliation is his/her private
affair and preference. Nevertheless, it has become a
matter of public interest. When a biography of a nota-
ble is written upon the announcement of an important
appointment to a public office, or when his or her emi-
nence is listed in a Who's Who or in an encyclopedia,
the religious membership or heritage is mentioned
prominently. If he or she is an agnostic, that, too,
becomes a matter of interest, even ifthe emphasis is
not of serious concern' or only of a curiosity.
Therefore, there were the emphases on the religi-
ous links of Alfred Smith, John F. Kennedy and Jimmy
Carter in the presidential campaigns in 1928, 1960 and
That is why there was so much interest in the fact
that James Schlessinger had observed his Bar Mitzva
at 13, that he had a Christian church affiliation when
he was Secretary of Defense, his brother having re-
tained Jewish loyalties, being to this day a synagogue
affiliate. That is why Henry Kissinger was an object of
interest because he had a son by a previous marriage
who became Bar Mitzva while he was Secretary of
State, his parents are observant Orthodox Jews and he
chose a non-Jewess for his second wife, their marriage
having been solemnized on the Jewish Sabbath.
The whole business may be immaterial to Ameri-
can political life and to statesmanship. As long as the
people chosen for high public offices render their best
in the public interest there will be curiosity over the
religious affiliations Of people in public life. We are
enjoying Separation of Church and State, and in spite
of it Richard M. Nixon introduced prayer meetings in
the White House. Gerald Ford did not pursue such a
practice. President-Elect Jimmy Carter has given an
assurance that he will not trespais on the Separation
Principle which his church has supported, but he has
indicated a readiness to continue his passion for con-
ducting Bible classes in his church even when he is
Any wonder, therefore, that there should be an
interest in the religious views of Werner Michael Blu-
menthal who is to be this nation's Secretary Of the
Treasury for the next four years, especially since he
has benefited from the Joint . Distribution Committee
while a refugee from Nazism?
Bill Haber's .Recollection and
a Blumenthal-Ball Dialogue
The views of_ Prof. William Haber as excerpted
from his experiences with "Mike" Blumenthal when
they were neighbors were already quoted in the Blu-
menthal story in the last issue of this newspaper. The
Haber statement, made to this commentator some 15
months ago, contains,other matters that have a spe-
cial interest in relation to Blumenthal and Israel.
The value of Dr. Haber's comments are in the ex-
change of views on Israel in which he and Blumenthal
and George Ball played their roles. It will be recalled
that. when President-Elect Carter was planning his
Cabinet there was concern over Mr. Ball's position on
Israel and he was ruled out early in the presidential
Prof. Haber, in his impressions of that dialogue
and in his comments on Blumenthal's background
stated on Oct. 29, 1975, when he replied to this com-
First, as to your inquiry with regard to Michael
Blumenthal. Michael is a refugee from Germany
and, I believe, of Jewish ancestry. He fled in the late
30's through Siberia and his family and he were
quite a while in the JDC camp in Shanghai. He knew
the late Charles Jordan who ran the camp for the
Blumenthal who, until a few months ago, was a
neighbor of mine in Barton Hills remembers the
JDC 'period well and Jordan personally. He came to
San Francisco quite penniless and eventually ended
up with a PhD at Princeton, a top job as Economic
Advisor to the State Department and also an as-
signment to the European economic community.
Whose Business Is It That Politicians Have Religious
Preferences? . . . The Jewish Meeting With PLO 'Moderates'
and the Approach to the Issue of an Impending Peace
George W. Ball, the former Undersecretary for
Economic Affairs, is a very close friend.
Quite recently I met Ball at Blumenthal's home
where the discussion was on the latest Kissinger
agreement. Ball is opposed to it because he is not
certain as to where the Step by Step is leading. In
addition, he fears that taking Egypt out of the dis-
cussion for the next year or two immobilizes the
moderates and gives the floor to the extremists.
I quizzed him- rather strongly and wished to
know whether he thought a Geneva conference
would do any good at this stage. His reply was that it
would do a lot of good providing that we and the
Soviets worked it out in advance together. It was
quite a show and I was not persuaded.
Perhaps the entire .discussion over the religiosity
of political figures would have proved a mere tempest
in a teapot had one basic fact been recorded at the
outset. Blumenthal wanted to be recorded as a Pre-
sbyterian. In an announcement about three months
ago about a speech he was to deliver to the Rotary Club
here he was listed as a Presbyterian. A Jewish member
called to inquire about the notice, "Isn't Blumenthal a
Jew?", the secretary was asked, and the latter
explained that Dr. Blumenthal asked to be listed as a
Presbyterian. When a Southfield high school reporter
interviewed the next Secretary of the Treasury about
two years ago and the story was headlined something
about "a Jew succeeds . . .", Blumenthal called to pro-
test and then said he understood the impression
gained by the interviewer. The implication is that - you
can't deny your Jewishness but you can have the
choice of an a preference for a religious affiliation.
Step by Step Proposals
in. Plot on Israel's Life
Lots of naive people seem to be lulled into a sense
of complacency and over-confidence by pretty clever
They have stopped talking about Israel's destruc-
tion, except when a platform is given to the extremest
of them all, Dr. George Habash. But Yasir Arafat is
shrewd: he says he will abandon demands for a secular
Palestinian state. Lebanon has taught him a lesson.
Instead he now asks for a mini-Palestinian state on
the Jordanian border, the West Bank of Israel.
But the cat is out of the bag in the Associated
Press article from Damascus. Quoting him on the sub-
ject, the AP report states:
' Arafat's softening line stems from dramatic rever-
sal in the Lebanese war, where Syrian forces pum-
meled his guerrillas and brought them under Assad's
The Syrian moves were endorsed by most Arab
regimes at an October summit, leaving Arafat with
little choice but to go along.
His aides have been hinting that they are pre-
pared to accept the ministate idea as at least a tem-
porary solution to the Middle East conflict.
This is a key concession from earlier insistence —
in public, at least — that only a lay state is what is now
Israel could solve the 28-year-old crisis.
Arafat himself told a recent interviewer that such
a solution would be possible. But he added that he still
has a right to dream of creating a Palestinian lay state
in place of Israel.
One would have to be awfully dense not to recog-
nize in the admittedly "temporary" scheme a way of
getting a foot into Israeli territory. It would then be
easy for Arafat, Habash and their ilk —with Sadat and
Assad conceding under pressure — to pursue the real
aim of the new display of a Dove of Peace by the
enemies of Israel.
- Hasn't Arafat said that if he is not welcomed at
Geneva he will renew his "guerrilla warfare" against
True: the U.S. must play a leading role in the pres-
sures for peace. Not all the talk about the nearness -of a
peace agreement, even if it is emphasized by Kurt
Waldheim, Yitzhak Rabin, others in official circles and
by news commentators, is sheer bunk. Unless the
Arabs— and those participating must be the official
spokesmen for Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, and others
will concede later — are prepared to meet Israelis face
to face in a quest for amity, there will be trouble galore
for a long time to come.
Arafat has another antagonist: the Jordanian
king and his government who will not permit the in-
trusion of the sort of neighbor (Arafat and his planned
mini-state on the West Bank) whose very presence
would be a threat to Jordanian sovereignty.
Therefore, any attempt to entice Israel into a suic-
idal state with the "change in attitude" reports from
Arafat represent talk that no sensible person will take
Waskow's Concessions to Arabs,
the Speculation with Extremists
Arthur I. Waskow is known as a leftist in Jewish
ranks and as such he is ready to make concessions to
Arabs. As such he is a natural in the ranks of the
"Breira" movement which is being accused of being
appeasing. He hopes for peace and he merits respect
for views- with which there have been differences but
which are nevertheless unquestionably sincere in the
quest for better conditions for Jews and Israelis in
relation to the problems that have mounted in recent
It might have been expected that a meeting with
the PLO would include Waskow. When five Jews met
with PLO "moderates" in Washington, unofficially al-
though several were from leading Jewish organiza-
tions, it was inevitable that Waskow should be one of
the Jewish quintet.
That meeting was described in a New York Tir.
Op-Ed Page article by Waskow and its conclusions
vite consideration. After his brief report on the dis-
cussions between Jews and Arabs, with a resultant
admission that there were "enemies" among the dis-
cussants, Waskow concluded:
But some of the Jews present pressed him further
about Palestinian attacks on Zionism. Then he raised
his voice to say: "Yes, the UN resolution against
Zionism was our resolution. We are against. Zionism.
We believe Zionism is our enemy. But you make peace
only with your enemy, not with your friend."
And he paused, looked around the room, and with
great intensity said again, "We are ready to make
peace with our enemy."
I thought to myself: But since they are enemies,
what could Israel do without risking its survival? Is-
rael could make a clear public offer that it is willing to
conclude a peace treaty, including guarantees of Is-
raeli security, with an independent Palestinian state
on the West Bank and Gaza, and is ready to begin
negotiations for such a peace treaty with the PLO
Such a statement would strengthen Palestinian doves
like Mr. Jiryis and Mr. Sartawi. It would force the
PLO as a whole to choose: Accept a decent peace or
lose the sympathy it has won in much of the world.
I thought to myself: Israel too could say, "We are
ready to make peace with our worst enemy."
Then we would see.
The speculation is admissible. Even in the bit-
terest of wars enemies soon met in an accord. Some
eventually became good friends. But the enemies had
first to meet face to face before they could wipe put
Perhaps the extremism of a Qaddafi or an Idi
Amin can be overlooked in the long-run process of
seeking peace. But the emphasis on the temporariness
of a solution, the constant refrain about limitations of
Israeli territory to Tel Aviv, the transformation of
UNESCO into a war camp — is it too much to expect
that some gesture will come forth giving an assurance
that an olive branch need not be placed in a pistol
holster, must not be accompanied by a gun?
The PLO_and their supporters in all Arab coun-
tries have much moderating to do before there can be a
possible acceptance of peace offerings as well-mean-
ing and trustworthy.
Barbara Jordan's Repudiation
of Anti-Semitic Trends
Texas Congresswoman ,Barbara Jordan adds im-
mensely to her logical interpretation_of political and
social developments in the attitude she has shown on
Israel, the Middle East and Zionism.
Because some black Americans have shown
antagonism to Israel and to Zionism, in their desire to
be Third World advocates, Mrs. Jordan's rejection of
prejudice in dealing with Israel gives comfort to the
hope that the fair-minded black Americans, in whose
ranks Rep. Jordan is both a leader and among the most _
highly respected, will not go all out on a crusade of
destruction, and perhaps some succor for justice will
emanate from their ranks.
In a recent speech in Houston Mrs. Jordan sa_
"As a black American, who understands racism, I
know that- it makes no sense to equate it with Zionism.
"The dream of Zionism and the existence of the
state of Israel will °not be swept into the dustbin of
history because a (UN) resolution was passed in an
ill-considered way," she declared, adding: "If the
United Nations is a place where the birthright of a
fledgling democracy will not be protected, where in
this world will that birthright be protected?"
Lashing out against last year's General Assembly
resolution equating Zionism with racism, she said:
"The only thing missing about that day in that 30th
General Assembly of the United Nations was the band
playing "The World Turned Upside Down.' " She
called that resolution "blasphemous."
Hope for fairness from Americans must never be
abandoned. Mrs. Jordan is among the hope providers.