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February 22, 1980 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1980-02-22

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2 Friday, February 22, 1980


Purely Commentary

Leonard Bernstein: Adherence
to Principle of Retaining Name

Name changing is not a crime. There are occasions,
however, when such practices depict cowardice. Leonard
Bernstein provided a counterpart in an interesting experi-
ence in his life which he has just revealed in relating his
life's experiences.
Serg Koussevitzky, who
was Bernstein's idol, had ad-
vised him to change his name
in order to attain success. In
the "60 Minutes" TV inter-
view last week, Bernstein re-
ported that Koussevitzky,
who was then conductor of
the Boston Symphony, ex-
pressed worry that the Berns-
tein name would be a hand-
icap for the young genius in
the musical world. He
suggested that his name
should be changed to
"Leonard S. Burns. Berns-
_ tein said: "I lost a night's
LEONARD BERNSTEIN sleep over it, and came back
and told him I had decided to make it as Leonard Bernstein
or not at all."
Leonard Bernstein may not know it, but he had fol-
lowed a tradition of self-respect, and of adherence to tradi-
In his commentaries on the Passover Hagada, the very,
eminent Bible and Talmud scholar, Rabbi Menahem M.
Kasher, included this interesting statement:
When God liberated Israel from Egypt, He pro-
claimed, "Whosoever loves My children, let him
come and take part in their joy." At that moment
the righteous among the Egyptians came and
celebrated the Passover with Israel; later they
joined them in leaving the land, as it is written,
"And a mixed multitude also went up with them."
Beloved, indeed, are the strangers who join the
Congregation of Israel.
"And he became a nation there." From this we
learn that the Israelites retained their uniqueness
in Egypt, they did not change their names, their
'faith, or their language during all the years that
they dwelt there, and they were always a nation
When the Israelites entered Egypt, they entered
as Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah. When they de-
parted from Egypt, they went forth as Reuben,
Simeon, and so on. They did not call Reuben —
"Rufus," and Judah — Luliani, and Joseph — Lis-
tis. As it is said: their genealogy was as follows:
"These are the families of Reuben."
Nor did the Israelites change their language;
they remained ever faithful to the holy tongue —
Because of all these merits, Israel was re-
deemed from Egypt.
Is it any wonder that Cohen and Levi afe surnames,
and the many names recorded in Holy Scriptures were
adopted by the Pilgrims, by the lovers of the Bible, by
people of faith?
There is something uniquely proud in Rabbi Kasher's
emphasis on loyalty to family nomenclature as well as
language. Leonard Bernstein helped to give it added em-

On the Political Scene: When
There Is Talk Out of Turn

Here is a brief excerpt from a statement by Israel
Prime Minister Menahem Begin that has reference to a
political dispute of uninterrupted interest:
The government of Israel does not and will not inter-
fere in the Democratic process of electing the
President of the United States.
The citizens of the United States should elect their
We have always enjoyed, and will enjoy, the friend-
ship of both parties, the Democrats and the Republi-
Without mentioning his name, it is clear that the
reference was to Ezer Weizman, who went far afield to
endorse the candidacy of Jimmy Carter for re-electiori as
President of the United States.
In a sense, the dispute is an old story. It will be recalled
that when Richard Nixon ran for re-election in 1972 there
were accusations that Israel, semi-officially, of course, was
"backing" him and that some mistrusted George
McGovern. (See Purely Commentary, Jewish News, Feb. 1,
As Israel ambassador to the U.S. Yitzhak Rabin
created a stir with his compliments for Nixon, he was
accused of injecting his nation, Israel, into American poli-
tics, and he defended himself in his autobiography, "The

Name-Changing: Leonard Bernstein's Refusal to Abandon
His Family Nomenclature and the Success in Adhering to
. Israeli Temptations to Play American Politics

Rabin Memoirs" (Little, Brown & Co.)
Perhaps the real heat over Israelis as foreigners inject-
ing themselves in American politics will escalate a bit later
in the campaign. Meanwhile, there is speculation that Ezer
Weizman's intrusion into the American political schemes
are harming Israel. He had come to the U.S. to ask for a
$400 million increase in American allocations of aid to
Israel and failed. Here is how Eliahu Salpeter, the re-
prespected Israel correspondent, described it in an article
in the New Leader:
At the White House ... Weizman emerged from
a meeting with President Carter feeling optimis-
tic. He even, rather undiplomatically, voiced the
hope that Carter would be returned to the Oval
Office for another four years. But no sooner did he
arrive back in Jerusalem than the State Depart-
ment informed the Israeli embassy that the aid
figure for 1981-would increase by only $200 mil-
lion in military credits.
Weizman's critics and political opponents
hurried to accuse him of having failed in his mis-
sion, and of having made a fool of himself to boot.
His friends, on the other hand, hinted that he had
fallen into a trap laid by Begin, who is said to
dislike the widespread speculation that he will
sooner or later be succeeded by his defense minis-
ter. According to this view, Begin knew be-
forehand that there was no hope of increasing the
aid figure and only wanted to damage Weizman's
image as the successful optimist.

There is a political campaign coming up in Israel as
well and to link the two, as Salpeter did, is a veritable
calamity. It is uncalled for and perhaps unwise. Neverthe-
less, there are the human factors that cause an interest by
Israelis in the American political campaign as Israelis are
concerned with the outcome of events come next November
in this country.
The latter is much more vital. There has emerged a
suspicion, which is growing, that the policies of President
Carter are geared towards a delineation of American com-
mitment to Israel. It is said and it is widely broadcast that a
re-elected Jimmy Carter will be tough on Israel.
This is where the American people come in. The neces-
sity for a better public relations program in Zionist and
Jewish ranks is all-too-evident. The American people must
be advised of the realities of the Middle East — that only
Israel, and to a large degree not also Egypt, are the only
friends the U.S. has in the Middle East. Fair play for which
Americans are famous cannot permit abandonment of Is-
rael to the political dogs of prey.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Fandis among foreigners
who expressed a preference for President Carter. Such
endorsements only add heat to the international interest in
the current American campaign. They do not even heat it
up and in no sense provide a kasher label for the President's
re-election bid. But Saudi Prince Fand's declaration evi-
dences a general interest and eliminates any suspicion that
Israelis are alone among the intruders into the American
political feuds.

Keep Reminding: The PLO's
Record of Mass Murders

Yasir Arafat keeps gaining entrance into accreditation
from the fomenters of trouble in many parts of the world.
The report that he has been supplied with Russian tanks to
conduct the war against Israel and Lebanon must not be
treated lightly. His meeting with President Abolhassan
Bani-Sadr of Iran, after he had cemented a pact with
Ayall.ah Khomeini is another cause for concern.
It is in the process of such "diplomatic" pact-making
that the PLO often gains credibility, even in the high quar-
ters of the most democratic nations.
That is why it is so vital that the PLO record should not
be hidden, that it should be recalled every time Arafat and
his cohorts raise their ugly voices.
Here is the expose which the Conference of Presidents
of Major American Jewish Organizations was compelled to

By Philip

issue in order that the facts should remain on the tragically
inerasable record: -
Is it possible to fix a date when lawlessness and
terror became the accepted norm in international
relations? With American hostages still being
held in captivity in Teheran, the question is worth
pursuing. For if our country can do nothing to
free the prisoners except wait for the Iranians to
let them go, there may be some value in examining
just how we got into the predicament — and how
our nation's leaders might prevent future attacks.
It is more than five years since the nations of the
world publicly declared their willingness to ac-
cept international terror as a way of life and the
taking of hostages as an acceptable method of
international conduct. The date was Nov. 13,1974.
The place: New York. The site: the United Nations
General Assembly- The event: an address by Yasir
Arafat, the chief of Al Fatah, largest terrorist
gang in the federation of terrorists known as the
The delegates rose to give Arafat (a holster on
his hip) a rousing welcome when he entered the
hall and a standing ovation when he ended his
speech. A grinning Arafat accepted the applause
of the nations of the world and returned home in
triumph. A week later PLO terrorists attacked the
Israeli town of Beit Shean, killing and wounding
eight persons.
Indeed, every public manifestation of support
for the PLO encourages more attacks. Two days
after Arafat's meeting in Moscow with Leonid
Brezhnev in March of 1978,34 Israeli men, women
and children were massacred in an attack by PLO
terrorists on a busload of vacationers returning
home along Israel's coastal highway. While the
Kreisky-Brandt-Arafat talks were taking place in
Vienna last year, a PLO terror-squad was inter-
cepted on its way to committing still another
murder mission in Israel. Last September, five
days after Arafat had been received by Spanish
Premier Suarez in Madrid, a PLO'bomb exploded
in downtown Jerusalem killing two and wound-
ing 49.
There is a direct line between Arafat's speech at
the UN to the Zionism-is-racism resolution a year
later to the seizure of Israel's — and then Ameri-
embassy in Teheran. In inviting Arafat to
address them and in hailing his words, the nations
of the world signaled the decriminalization of ter-
rorism, including the seizure of embassies and the
taking of hostages.
It should have been no surprise that the PLO of
Yasir Arafat provided training and weapons to
the insurgents of the Ayatollah Khomeini as they
prepared to take over Iran. It was equally to be
expected that the PLO should seize Israel's em-
bassy in Teheran immediately after Khomeini
came to power. (Israel had prudently evacuated
its personnel before the PLO invaded the build-
That assault went unremarked; neither the
United States nor any other country protested
this attack on international law and the conven-
tions of diplomacy. Now, alas, did our country see
the capture of the Israel embassy as an omen of
what might happen to our own building the same
What a pity that the facts must be recalled for the
benefit of humanity's forgetfulness, that when a menacing
horde of terrorists pose as peace-makers they must be ex-
posed! But in the search for truth and decency this must be

George F. Pierrot: A Tribute

George F. Pierrot symbolized the most dynamic in
journalism, the skill to observe and to enchant audiences in
travelogues, the skill of storytelling, as possessor of a
genuine sense of humor.
As editor of American Boy he appealed to youth; as
director of the World Adventure lecture series at the Art
Institute he brought to this community the most knowl-
edgeable interpreters of world-wide events by means of
introducing them to the most progressive countries as well
as the backward.
He had an interesting role in the Christian Zionist
movement. He was among the pioneers in the formation of
the Michigan Chapter of the American Christian Palestine
Committee and he presided at some of the chapter's func-
He was unmatched as a storyteller, and was especially
skilled in the writing of limericks. If they are not published
it will be a loss to those who relish humor.
From all ranks come deserving tributes to the memory
of George F. Pierrot.

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