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November 21, 1980 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1980-11-21

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2 Friday, November 21, 1980


Purely Commentary

Deplorable Negation of Justice
for Israel by Christians

National Jewish organizations are understandably
deploring the action of the National Council of Churches in
its endorsement of the PLO.
A statement favoring Israel's existence is a tongue-in-
cheek declaration when, at the same time, those who seek
Israel's destruction are elevated to a state of legitimacy.
In spite of the rejection of the PLO by all U.S. political
parties, the encouragement that is given the would-be de-
stroyers of Israel undermines every approach to peace in
the Middle East.
It is to be hoped that Christians will take the lead in
rejecting the PLO stance in Christian ranks.

Claims to U.S. as a Christian
Country Refuted by a Christian

This column was not alone as a challenger of the pro-
position that this is a Christian country. The NYTimes
Op-Ed article by Gary Potter setting claim to "A Christian
America" (rejected in JN Purely Commentary, Oct. 31)
found a disclaimer in Richard Armstrong of Old Tappan,
N.J., whose refutation, published in the NYTimes, Oct. 28,
"Who is more likely to secure their entitlement,"
he asks, "Than Christians, those who recognize
they are God's children?" I wish it were so. I hope
it would happen. But personal experience and
history lead me to conclude that Christians ha-
ven't done any better — and sometimes have done
far worse — in securing those rights proclaimed
in our Declaration of Independence. I have much
to be ashamed of as a Christian and as an Ameri-
Mr. Potter claims that good morals depend on
religion (only the Christian religion?). He says
that our laws, policies and public ceremonies
used to reflect the values, beliefs and principles of
Christianity — and they should again. This is nos-
talgia for a Golden Age that never existed . . .
My reading of the Bible shows Jesus and the
prophets harshest in their denunciations of "reli-
gious people" who said "Lord, Lord," and the
temple of the Lord" but oppressed their neighbor.
Triumphalism is not a virtue. Mr. Potter and his
"Christian political activists" had better set their
own house in order.
I for one do not want to add to our nation's
problems by polarizing out society between those
who hold religious beliefs and those who don't.
Why can't we work together on those things on
which we share agreement, most of which are the
stuff of politics?
Rather than a Christian nation or an atheistic
nation, I thought our experiment in liberty was an
attempt to establish a pluralistic nation. If reli-
gious and non-religious persons must compete,
let's make it a race to see who can do the best job
of "feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and
visiting those in prison." Whoever succeeds, we
all stand to gain.
It is important that such disclaimers should be made
by Christians, just as the rebuke to the sponsors of the
Jews for Jesus" corruption was by a Christian.
A refutation by a single dispassionate defender of the
basic principles inherent in a free society that recognizes
the rights of all peoples and their equality in attaining such
freedom does not end the unfortunate injection of divisive-
ness in the American society. There will always be a claim
to dominating privilege for the majority religion. This does
not eliminate loyalty to the great tradition for equality in
this country.
An Armstrong echoes the views of those who made
equality the root of American idealism. This root will
sufelY be protected by the rational who cherish the heritage
of justice and equality.


Shund: A Tantalizing Term
That Speaks Volumes Urging
Dignified Communal Programming

Six decades ago, the vexing problem for American
Jews was the ridicule to which Jews were subjected in the
form of the "Stage Jew." It was to combat it that the Bnai
Brith formed the Anti-Defamation League. ADL now tack-
les very serious problems affecting Jews in many spheres,
on many fronts. Anti-Semitism is combatted with vigor,
whether it is from neo-Nazis or the PLO. But the "Stage
Jew" was so irritating in the early part of this century that
ADL's role became a necessity.
In more recent years. on a high level in the culturally-
functioning Jewish communities in this country, a craving
has developed for dignified entertainment and high
standards in sponsoring cultural events. Jewish
entertainers who resorted to low-level humor irritated

An Appeal to Christians to Lead in Repudiation
of Inhumanities Aimed at Israel's Destruction . . .
Rejection of the 'Christian America' Canard

Jewish spokesmen, and organizations sponsoring
entertaining programs were urged not to sink to low levels.
They were urged not to burlesque Jewish life with undig-
nified entertainment.
The late Rabbi Morris Adler was among those who
often resented sponsorship of indignity.
This is the time of the year where organizations plan
their programs, and the appeals for high standards in
community planning must be renewed. The "Stage Jew"
has disappeared, yet the craving for a Yiddish word, for
Jewish "jokes," often provides a platform for the unaccept-
The many Jewish entertainers on the circuit should be
encouraged to be on the highest level, when telling jokes to
study up on the treasuries of Jewish humor — and there are
many of them.
Especially commendable are the collected tales from
all ages by Nathan Ausubel. His classic "A Treasury of
Jewish Folklore" has just been re-issued, after many print-
ings since 1948, in a paperback by Bantam Books.
It is urgent that "Shund" should be avoided.
After a recent publicly-sponsored entertainment, this
commentator had the impulse to call it "Shund." One Yid-
dish dictionary didn't even translate it. Another called it
"literary trash." But it is more than that and it required an
expert to define it.
Truly, there is , just a
handful of culturally-
inspired Yiddishists in the
community. Moshe and
Sarah Friedman are among
them. Perhaps the most
authoritative is Wolf
A former principal of a
Yiddish high school, a stu-
dent of the Talmud and the
Yiddish classics, he is cur-
rently attracting wide at-
tention with his serialized
biography of Moses Hess in
Unser Eigen Vort, a Yid-
dish quarterly. Snyder
ranks high as a Jewish
scholar with a knowledge of
languages and the literatures of the world. Here is how he
has defined Shund:
The word Shund is of German extraction mean-
ing trash, refuse, bad merchandise. In Yiddish
literature the word is used to denote or describe
any literary work (in whatever form) of lower
grade and designed to cater to people of lower
In Yiddish literature, one writer, Shomer
(Scheikewitch), was a very prolific writer of
stories, novels, playlets and plays of low grade
and taste. His "dramas" permeated the stage of
several Yiddish theaters, except the artistic
theaters like the one of Morris Schwartz and a
very few others.
The flooding of Shomer's so-called literary
products caused a lot of indignation and criti-
cism, lead by our great classicists. Sholom
Aleichem was a leading figure in_ this criticsm.
The names Shomer, "Shomerish,"

By Philip

"Shomerism" became synonymous with trash lit
erature, drama, etc.
Generally, there is a craving for the Yiddish word, for
Yiddish stories. Those making them available should st-
rive to provide the most dignified, cultural programs with
high standards. Let the warning against "Shund" be their

— Advice — for Israelis
and That Nation's
Right to Map Own Destiny

When Dr. Chaim Weizmann trekked from meetin
meeting, from chicken dinner to chicken dinner, to plead
for help for the Zionist cause in the years preceding Israel's
rebirth thanks to the Zionist idealism, he was bombarded
with advice. He often replied: "With `Eitzes' ("advice") I
can't build Palestine."
This is what is recurring today: the swivel-chair
philosophers have lots of advice. Like the advertisement in
the last issue of this paper, there are the advisers who
would have Israel make concessions on Jerusalem, aban-
don settlements, yield, yield, yield! As if not enough was
yielded until now in the agreement with Sadat and Carter
at Camp David!
To be remembered is Israel's right to be master of her
own destiny.
True: Diaspora Jewry should be listened to, practical
and constructive advice is often valuable. But there should
be caution to avoid the destructive that gives weapons to
Israel's enemies.
Like the local chap who pleaded the PLO cause
through the media. One doesn't have to be a non-Jew ap-
parently to be destructive to Israel's needs.
All the negations stem from panic. Those who are
frightened every time Israel expresses a sentiment em-
phasizing the people's right to master their destiny are the
guilty in the negations. The courageous do not frighten.

Technion's Role, Planned
Dormitory Meriting Cooper a tion

Emphasis given by the media to the problems and
crises in Israel cause concern among Israel's supporters. If
the creative in the Jewish state were observed-they would
outmatch by far the negatives.
Ranking as a -leader in Israel's creative accom-
plishments is the Israel Institute of Technology, known
worldwide as the Haifa Technion. It is the acknowledged
leader in scientific ranks in the entire Middle East and it
shares in the high standards of the leading technological
institutions in the world. It is generally referred to as "the
MP' of the Middle East."
The campaign for a dormitory for students at the
Technion to be established in the name of Michigan Jewry
should be welcomed even amidst the larger drives for funds.
It should not be judged as competitive. It must be given the
support it earns, even as a mere gesture to Technion that its
great role in Jewish ranks merits unhesitant support.
The Technion dinner on Nov. 30 will be the occasion for
concerned Detroiters to participate in the important project
being introduced for the dormitory at the great technologi-
cal institution. Support for Technion and its latest project
merits most generous support and impressive participation
in the functions of the-great Israeli scientific university.

New British Leader Was Mandate Critic

Michael Foot, the new head
of the British Labor Party,
has a long tradition of
friendship for Israel.
Foot is the keeper of the
party's Socialist conscience
and its finest orator. As a
minister, he has had very
little to do with foreign pol-
icy and he is therefore some-
thing of an enigma for other
He is one of a group of
very gifted brothers, who
include Lord Caradon, Brit-
ain's former United Nations
Ambassador and who was
an official in Palestine dur-
ing the British Mandate.

Foot, himself, was an
outstanding pro-Zionist
and a bitter critic of Er-
nest Bevin during the fi-
nal, bloody years of the
Mandate. When Bevin

ordered the arrest of
Moshe Sharett and other
leaders of the Jewish
Agency in 1946, in an at-
tempt to smash- the
Hagana, Foot electrified
the House of Commons
by declaring: "If I were in
Palestine today I would
be a member of the
At that time Foot sup-
ported the Zionist fight
against Britain in the leftw-
ing weekly, "Tribune," of
which he was the editor.
One of his closest Par-
liamentary colleagues since
those days is the Jewish
member of Parliament, Ian
Mikardo, still one of Labor's
most valiant supporters of
Since those early days,
Foot has been reticent about
Middle East issues, espe-
cially since the 1956 Suez
affair, which may have

influenced his views on Is-
rael. Even so, his underly-
ing sympathy is probably
intact. When he unsuc-
cessfully tried to succeed
Wilson as Labor leader four
years ago, he told some of
his potential Zionist sup-
porters that they could rely
on his continued friendship
for Israel.

Foot's win, however,
could enhance the prospects
of a third MP of eventually
becoming Labor's leader
and a possible future
British Prime Minister. If
the trade unions and the
party's local branches gain
a major say, this would give
Labor's crown to Tony
Benn, the darling of the left.

Benn's links with
Zionism are even deeper.
An avid student of the
works of Jewish
Buber, Benn - has visited

Israel many times. His
closest links there are
with Mapam. He is a
sponsor of Mapam's
"New Outlook" magazine
and is associated with
study center at Gi
Benn's pro-Zionism is in-
spired by the love of the Old
Testament and land and
people of Israel taught him
by his parents. Both were
outstanding friends of
Zionism-during the Man-
date years.

His father, the late Lord
Stansgate, espoused the
Zionist cause while he was
the member of Parliament
for Whitechapel, the old
Jewish district in London's
East End.

Benn's mother, Lady
Stansgate, who is still alive,
has taught herself modern
Hebrew and has long sup-
ported Israeli causes.

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