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February 20, 1981 - Image 2

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Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-02-20

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2 Friday, February 20, 1981

,axwia

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Purely Commentary

Tale of Horror and Hate Depicted on '60 Minutes'
Program Invites the Recognition of the Positive
and Friendly Attitudes That Bind Arabs and Jews

By Philip
Slomovitz

`60 Minutes' Hate Tale and the Negating Examples Emphasizing Two Nations' Amity

"60 Minutes" story about Islam in Israel is distressing. It recapitulates hate. It defies
the Jewish right to nationhood.
It can inspire fear among Israelis and doubts in the ranks of Israel's friends and
supporters.
-
It does even more: it points to the difficulty of creating friendship and cooperation
and of solidifying kinship.
The story admits that Israel grants many benefits of citizenship to the Arabs. The
complaint is that they are not equalto the benefits enjoyed by the Israelis who neighbor
on their villages. These are matters that are correctible, if the counterargument truly is
that the Arab tax payments do not justify granting the services expected. There is much
more to the story.
When a young Arab is asked whether he aspires with his fellow Israeli-Arab citizens
to see the "Jewish Zionist state of Israel" disappear his answer is "Yes." That is the root of
the serious problem.
Will it be possible to reach any Arab group with an admission of Israel's right to a
national home and to the people's heritage? A kindred nation that has 22 states is
denying breathing space to the Jews who have acquired an end to homelessness. Can this
antagonism be deflated, if not totally overcome?
What the young Arab's "Yes" to Israel disappearance meant was to confirm the fear
that there is a Fifth Column in Israel.
Israel's former chief- of police, Shmuel Toledano, deflated such fears with figures,
stating that of the 500,000 Arabs in Israel only 1,200 were allied with the terrorists in the
33-year history of Israel. It is poor consolation. Even a single Arab terrorist is a menace —
an unacceptable threat to innocent lives, Jews, Christians and Arabs.
The chief problem is whether Arabs and Jews can live together, and the civilized
approach is to the positive. Why shouldn't people be able to live in peace? Why is Anwar
Sadat the only Arab leader whose amicable relations with Israel have elevated him to
glorious human position as an advocate and pursuer of peace? Why is he the only Arab
ruler who accepts the reality of Israel's existence? Aren't all the others bluffing when, as
in the instance of King Hussein of Jordan there is a half-hearted mention of Israel uttered
as a condition to Israel's submission to impossible Arab-PLO-dominated demands?
Yet, there is proof to the contrary. Don McEvoy, reporting for the National Confer-
ence of Christians and Jews, relates in the accompanying essay how Jews and Arabs live
together, in amity, cooperatively.
This is a piece worth reading, studying — accepting it as exemplary of what can and
should be encouraged.
Yet the sponsors of the 60 Minutes program have chosen to emphasize the destruct-
ive!
The McEvoy story is not the only one of its kind as proof of the available positive.
In its Feb. 12 issue, the New York Times published a report from Kfar Qara, Israel,
by David Shipler, its correspondent in Israel, who described, as the headline states, how
"Jews and Arabs Are Erasing Stereotypes in Israel." Here is a portion of Shipler's Qara
story:
For more than half-a-century, the Arab village of Kfar Qara, 22 miles
south southeast of Haifa, has existed four miles from the Jewish village of
Pardes Channa, but aside from some contact in the marketplace of goods
and jobs, the two communities have lived apart.
Two years ago a few idealistic young men and women, most of them
American Jews, learned to speak Arabic and took up residence in Kfar
Qara and another Arab village, Tamra, to try to break down some of the
barriers.
The Interns for Peace, as they call themselves, have been working
under a 35-year-old rabbi, Bruce Cohen, from New Haven, Conn., and Mr.
Igbaria, an Israeli Arab from Galilee, who is in the program's deputy direc-
tor.
They have organized social visits by Arab and Jewish couples to each
other's villages and have brought teen-age dropouts together for movies,
hikes, camping trips and home visits.
Gershon Baskin, a 25-year-old intern from Smithtown, L.I., said: "Both
Jews and Arabs are interested in creating better relations between the two
groups, but both sides have the perception that the other isn't.
"Jewish stereotypes of Arabs are generally that Arabs are closed, that
Arabs are dirty, that Arabs are stupid, that Arabs are all anti-Israel.
He said Arab stereotypes of Jews were that the Jews did not care at all
about Arabs and that they "would really prefer, if they had an opportunity,
to throw them out of Israel."
When Baskin talked to a group of ninth graders recently about a joint .
program with Arab youngsters, their reply was: "We're interested, and
we're willing to try. But you should know that we're scared."
Esther Lafontaine, the lone- Israeli Jew among the eight original
interns, recalled that when she accompanied her American-born husband,
David, into Tamra, she "felt Arabs were very dirty, very bad and very
dangerous."
"I was afraid that men would shoot me in the street, or rape me," she
went on. "The first day we came to the village I couldn't sleep. All night I
was shaking. Now I'm comfortable, with open doors."
Mrs. Lafontaine's parents came to Israel from Libya; their anti-Arab
attitudes were so strong that at first she did not tell them she was living in an
Arab village. But gradually her parents' attitudes have softened, her hus-
band said, so that now her mother comes to visit, to cook and sing songs
with the Arab women.
Arab reactions have been mixed.
"They say sometimes you are traitors," explained Nawaf Masaiha, a
prominent village resident who is on the executive board of the Israeli trade
union federation. "The atmosphere here, because of the Communist Party
and because of the extreme right of the Jews, creates a very difficult situa-
tion for us, people who believe in relations with Jews."
"People who pat themselves on the back and call themselves Zionists
are not giving enough thought to the future," said Michael Chyet if Los
Angeles, part of a new team of interns now in training. "By antagonizing the
Arabs they're endangering the future," he said. "If this country is going to
have a future the gap has to become smaller."
How different the Shipler and McEvoy stories from the 60 Minutes tale! Why was the
most damaging selected for television to prejudice the American people? Will the other
side be told by the responsible in the media?
What 60 Minutes portrayed must be taken seriously. Israel is not committing

suicide, but she will not, must not, as her services for all citizens, including Arabs,
already prove, ever abandon a policy of humanism.
The supporters of Israel must be aware of the realities. Israel is a sovereign state and
has no intention of perishing. Her supporters must never succumb to the danger im-
planted in a story that was related by the popular television program. There is another
side to the problem. It is related here in two forms by Christians. These must be made the
guidelines for hopes and action, with Arabs hopefully joining Israelis and Jews
everywhere in the aspirations for peace, harmony and mutual cooperation

c

ARAB AND JEW TOGETHER

an Jews and Arabs live
together in peace and friend
ship? It is being done at Neve Shaldm
(Oasis of Peace), a small settlement
on the West Bank some twenty miles
northwest of Jerusalem.
The community, founded on a
barren rocky hillside in 1973, is com-
prised of four Jewish families, two
Arab families, and a Roman Catholic
citizen of Israel and his wife who is an
Israeli Jew. They have dedicated
their settlement as an educational
center to build a bridge between
Israel and her Arab neighbors. The
original settlers, acting on their own
with no governmental approval or
permit, put up makeshift housing on
the hill with no water nor trees for
shade. A huge packing case that had
brought the belongings of an
American immigrant to Israel was
the first_ iving space.
The initial reactions to this
unusual community were suspicion
and hostility, exhibited by both Arabs
and Jews. But gradually relationships
were developed and "days that began
in fear ended with the exchange of
addresses and mutual visits."
Today; fifteen Jewish and fifteen
Arab schools send classes to meet
together at Neve Shalom. The
schools are paired and each pair visits
the center five times each year. Those
days are spent learning to know one
another and breaking down the

stereotypes which create animosity
and mistrust.
The area provides sparse oppor-
tunity for financial development so
most of the commune members ,work
outside. The two Arab men, for ex-
ample, are teachers at a nearby
school in the West Bank town of
Ramle. The settlement owns about
100 sheep and also farms five acres of
garlic. They also receive some finan-
cial support from backers in Europe.
The families say that there is a dual
purpose in their determination to live
the way they have chosen under such
bleak conditions. The first is their
determination to operate the educa-
tional center and the other is to
witness with their lives to the fact that
peace and friendship is possible even
between enemies of such long-
standing.
Abdalla Morad is a teacher of
Hebrew in an Arab school in
Nazareth. He and his wife and child
are considering joining Neve
Shalom. "Do people think there is no
way for Jews and Arabs to live
together?" Morad asks. "It is our job
to show them that we Can."
David Cohen, an Israeli im-
migrant from England, who is also a
prospective settler adds, "I hope Ab-
dalla will not be proved wrong."
Let's all hope the same. Shalom
and Salaam.

When a Country Is In Danger:
Avoid Possible Grave Consequences

Threats to Israel, even when only implied, serve as warnings always to be on guard
lest the menacing materializes.
The chief rabbi of France, Rene Sirat, was interviewed on the "Cards on the Table"
television show in Paris on Jan. 12. One of the questions addressed to him was:
"Is it anti-Semitic to criticize Mr. Begin's policies in the occupied territories when
this policy is promoted by the religious party of Israel?" He replied:
Criticizing Mr. Begin's policy — he's still Prime Minister — is perfectly
legitimate since we criticize the policy of various other governments. But
you have to be careful, for when a country is in danger you should know just
how far you can go with your criticism because you can sometimes trigger -
process that might have very grave consequences. I think I can say th,
we're now engaged in a process in which this kind of question doesn't come
up. Four years ago it was unthinkable that we could go to Cairo but now
really believe that in a few years we will be traveling to Damascus and
Amman. Since Camp David and the agreements, there has been a peace
treaty between the most important state in the Middle East and Israel, and
now anything possible. It's a question of time.
Don't ask me, the Grand Rabbi, to talk to you about the political, side
because in the first place I'm not competent to do so. But I do know that in
the Camp David accords, there was also discussion of the status of the
Palestinians. Some talks are under way; I think it's something that will still
take much time but there are lots of international discussions, for instance
between the United States and Panama, that went on for years. One can't
expect everything all at once, but I do believe it is an important process . . .
The emphasis of Chief Rabbi Sirat is to avoid anything that could undermine Israel's
existence. The threats have not declined and the dangers are growing. Often well-
intentioned Jews aid the enemy with misinterpretations of existing conditions.
Unity in defense of Israel spells justice and militates for decency in the Middle East.
This becomes an obligation for the humanists and the civilized in mankind.

,

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