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November 18, 1977 - Image 69

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1977-11-18

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, November 18, 1977 69

Anti-Semitism, Jewish Identification and Israel and the Diaspora

A Review by
Dr. MILTON STEINHARDT

(The thesis of this section

"World Jewry and the
State of Israel" was edited
by Moshe Davis (Arno
Press) in 1977 and published
as a part of a continuing
seminar under the aus-
pieces of the president of
Israel.
The volume includes 18
contributors and 15 dis-
cussants. It is divided into
three sections: the first
with the current mani-
ations of anti-Jew-
ishness; the second
describes the patterns of
Jewish identification; and
the third relates the central-
ity of Israel to World Jewry.

DR. MILTON STEINHARDT

It appears that the topic
sequence is not coinciden-
tal. It rather presumes that
the primary factor is the
historical anti-Semitism.
The second issue is the con-
tinuing process of Jewish
identity. The third subject,
the state of Israel, is the
response to the two preced-
ing problems.
As may be surmised with
33 persons expressing opin-'
ions, there are as many
points of view.
All contributors were - in
agreement that anti-Jew-
ishness is still very much
with us, in— such diverse
places at Latin America
(Peru, Argentina, Chile), all
the Arab countries, the
Soviets and satellites,.
As may be noted, the _
emphasis is on Anti-Jew:
ishness—because of the dif-
ferent setting of our times.
As Fackenheim states:
"Jews are hated for their
virtues as well as their
-vices," and the same feel-
ings of rivalry, envy, and
jealousy directed at the Jew
as the anti-Christ are now
expressed in anti-Zionism,
anti-Israelism, Univer-
salism, a in d
Humanitarianism.
Even self-hating Jews
may rationalize and dimin-
ish their guilt feelings by
proclaiming Universalism
*heir goal. The Jewish
ittgent of the New Left
and their antagonism to
Israel is an illustration in
point.

Israeli Confirm s
Soldiers' Beefs

JERUSALEM (JTA)—
Some 63 percent of com-
plaints filed by soldiers to
the army ombudsman were
found to be at least partially
justifiable, ornbusdman
Haim Laskov stated in his
annual report published
here recently. This is double
the rates of justified com-
plaints as compared with
last year.

-

is strikingly similar to a
paper "Masks of Anti - Semi-
tism" which emphasizes the
socio-psychologic aspects—
presented in 1972 at the Con-
gress of Social Psychiatry
in Jerusalem, and later pub-
lished in the Sinai Hospital
Bulletin and the Michigan
Psychiatry Newsletter. The
reviewer will make avail-
able a limited number of
reprints upon request
directly or at the libraries
of the main Jewish Commu-
nity Center and the
IVfidrasha.)
The section on Jewish
Identity is more complex
and theoretical. Peter Med-
ding, of Australia, points out
six pertinent elements of
Jewish distinctiveness, as
follows: 1) Non-belief- in
Christianity. (What _Jew-
ishness is not? ); 2) Rites of
passage : ceremonies relat-
-ing to a) birth, circumcision
b) maturity—Bar Mitzvah
c) marriage d) burial; 3)
Holiday participation : Pass-
over and holy days; 4)
Sense of belonging to inter-
national pebple; 5) Concern
for Jewish survival; 6) His-
torical concern—memory,
personal and collective.
The pattern of identity is
described as tribal and not
intellectual, ethnic and not
theologic. This is another
way of saying that being
Jewish is essentially an
emotional experience and
not derived from a rational
process.
American Jewry supports
the ideology that recognizes
the richness of cultural vari-
ety. This reviewer is con-
vinced that this is possible
only in the U.S. because of
the multiple ethnic groups
seeking similar justification
for the benefits of diversity,
and this may well account
for an attenuated and muted
anti - Semitism in the U.S
Other aspects of identity
which relate w the content
and not feeling tone are:
Compartmentalization and
Synthesis. The first implies
being a Jew at home and a
citizen outside—a sort of
two-value system.
The second approach, that
of synthesis and integration,
is more difficult to achieve.
But some success has been
recorded in social, political
and philosophic movements
(as Existentialism) iri syn-
thesis with the Jewish
tradition.
The problem for secular
Jews has been made easier
because of greater align-
ment with current culture
and science, yet at the same
time more difficult because
of inadequate explanations
for ethnic and national
claims to distinctiveness.
Zionists must raise the
question whether synthesis
is possible between the iden-
tity of -citizenship and iden-
tity of Jewish peoplehood.
The dilemma of the Soviet
Jew becomes clear as he is
denied the possibility of
integration. He is not
accepted as a Russian and
not permitted to live as a

religious or cultural Jew.

Different types of Identity

are noted by Simon Her-
man, as intellectual, emo-
tional, and behavioral. He
adds that identity may be
"objective public"—as the
person really appears to
others; "subjective pub-
lic"—the person's per-
ception of how other regard
hime; "self-identity"--the
person's own version of his
identity.
Real identity implies in
alignment a need to belong.
and a mutual responsibility,
and the identity is more
intense if the person per-
ceives himself as belonging
to both a national and reli-
gious entity. One acid test of
Jewishness, in what the
author calls valence; is
illustrated by the reply to
the question: "If you were
to be born all over again,
would you wish to be born a
Jew?"
Aharon Lichtenstein. of
Israel, regards Jewish iden-
tity as adherence to Jewish
history and Jewish values,
and to the existential shar-
ing of past experiences, pre-
sent anxieties, and hopes for
the future. Types of identity
include religious, secular,
historical, socio-political.
Even self-hatred reflects a
sense of one's roots.
Lichtenstein distinguishes
between Identification and
Identity in that the "latter
relates to essence and exist-
ence while the former
relates to experience and
expression."
This reviewer considers
the above definition rather
value and inadequate, but
instead regards _identi-
fication as specific. con-
crete, and particular, while
identity is general,
abstract, and universal.
The Holocaust experience
and the Zionist impact
enhanced the scope of Jew-
ish identity. This reviewer
would add the Six-Day War
as positive force in Jewish
identity since is awakened
Russian Jewry to the new
reality of their untenable
status.
Fackenheim underscores
the firm unconscious
resolve of Jewish survival
to the concept of the extra
614th command or mitzva:
"Do' not give Hitler a post-
humous victory."
While the section on
Israel and the Diaspora
shows a general agreement
as to the central and pri-
mary role of Israel, there
are however, shades of
emphasis and priorities.
Irving Greenberg, of the
U.S. emphasizes the cen-
trality of Israel for the Dia-
spora and notes the effects
of the Holocaust on Jewish
identity, and a feeling that
there is one refuge in the
event of a catastrophe.
He emphasizes the impor-
tance of religion, and feels
that the centrality of Israel
should not weaken Jewish
life in the Diaspora. He
deplores the gap in lan-
guage and culture between
Israel and the Diaspora,

and wishes to improve both
the level of education and of
communication.
The primacy of religion in
Israel and in the Diaspora is
noted by Chief Rabbi
Jakobovits of England. He
believes that the only justifi-
cation for Jewish survival
lies in our special role for
Israel and Jewry "as a light
unto nations", and reminds
us that the phrase "let my
people go" is followed by
"so that they shall serve

rre."

A sad picture of the
future. of Jewry is painted
by Zev Katz of Jerusalem
who shows that at the pre-
sent rate of attrition and
emigration there will be no
Jews in the USSR by the
year 2120. The Socialist and
liberation ideologies furnish
cover for attempted gen-

ocide in the isolation of
Israel.
That it was Zionism itself

that inspired the Arabs to

imitate and seek their
national identity is the inter-
esting observation of
Nathan Rostenreich of
Jerusalem.
Thr§ reviewer notes that
typical phrases used by
Jewry were taken over,
such as "homeland", "cul-
tural home", "refugees",
"racism". They even
applied such terms as "gen-
ocide", "Nazi methods",
"colonial imperialists", to
describe Israel's struggle
for survival.
Referring to the current
American scene, the author
writes: "With the recent
empasis on ethnic minor-
ities, Jews, who because of
the color of their skin and

their social achievements
are counted with the major-
ity' and have become more
sharply aware of their exile,
are not necessarily related
to direct persecution."
He feels that the relation
between Israel and the Dia-
spora is one of inter-
dependence and mutual sup-
port. To paraphrase—Israel
gives spiritual and emo-
tional sustenace, while Dia-
spora supplies physical, eco-
nomic, and political
support.
Dr. Davis has an inter-
script in which he summa-
rizes the issues of the book.
If the conference helped
to sharpen the focus on the
many unsolved problesm of
Jewry, the contributors
probably attained the pur-
pose of the continuing
seminar.

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