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October 09, 1981 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-10-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

28 Friday, October 9, 1981

Israel, America Jewry

Nazi Sentenced
in E. Germany

Mack Pitt

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By VICTOR M.
BIENSTOCK

When President Reagan
warned Israel during the
storm in Washington-over
the Saudi Arabian arms
deal that "it is not the busi-
ness of other nations to
make American foreign pol-
icy," he was, intentionally
or not, aligning himself
with the belief of many Is-
raelis and most anti-
Semites that the first loy-
alty of the American Jew is
to the state of Israel, not to
the country of his birth or
acquired citizenship.
We accept this concept of
dual loyalty from the anti-
Semites as a manifestation
of their malevolence. We
recognize it among some
American politicians as
their failure to recognize
the Americanism of the
American Jew.
We recognize it among
the Israelis as a confirma-
tion of their continuing ig-
norance of America and of
the American Jew and of
their failure to have created
for themselves as
philosophical, psychological
and historical association
with the Diaspora in an era
in which there is once again
a Jewish state in the ancest-
ral homeland.
The fact is, as President
Reagan well knows, as
most American political
leaders understand and
as few Israelis do, that
while Israel has a certain
amount of sympathy in
Washington and the
country generally, be-
cause of its religious con-
notations as the land of
the People of the Book,
an appreciation of Is-
rael's potential strategic
value to the United States
in a critical quarter of the
globe, a limited moral
hold based on a feeling of
responsibility because of
America's role in the es-
tablishment of the
Jewish state and a feeling
of relationship between
two democracies, Israel's
strength in the United
States resides in the ar-
ticulate element of its six
million Jews — a tiny
element, indeed.

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But without that tiny ar-
ticulate element, Israel
would probably be regarded
in the capital as just
another supplicant state.
There are no dependable
figures— I doubt that there
are even fairly accurate pro-
jections — as to the propor-
tion of American Jews who
belong to the organized
Jewish community in one
way or another. Possibly
one-third of the American
Jewish population has a re-
ligious affiliation ranging
in intensity from regular at-
tendance at a house of wor-
ship and participation in
congregational activities to
the Yom Kippur Jew reluc-
tantly responsive to the an-
cestral call.
There are no mass mem-
bership organizations other
than Hadassah and Bnai
Brith which can claim
membership in the hun-
dreds of thousands and
probably no more than 10
percent of American Jews
belong to Jewish organiza-
tions other than the
synagogue or temple.
The strongest cohesive
force for the Jews — and
this must be faced, un-
palatable as it may be —
is the prejudice and dis-
crimination that sur-
rounds them in varying
degree and keeps them
Jewish.
Whenever and wherever
these forces weaken, there
is a drifting away, as wit-
ness the startling rising
rate of intermarriages. It is
not religion, although we
are told there is a discerni-
ble trend among American
Jews towards a return to the
synagogue, and it is not
Zionism that binds the Jews
together; it is the pressure
from without that holds
them together.
David Ben-Gurion, that
intensely pragmatic realist
who sparked the proclama-
tion of statehood in 1948,
strongly believed that the
place of the Zionist was in
the land of Israel —
nowhere else — and no one
was a Zionist who was not
personally committed to re-
turn to the Jewish state.
Jews abroad were, in his
estimation, non-Zionists.
They were, he said,
privileged to help Israel but
they were not Zionists if
they did not have the moral
compulsion to live there. He
was convinced that a Jewish
state in Palestine was the
last hope and refuge for the
Jews of the world.
I called on the old lion
once in 1943 in his Tel
Aviv apartment the day
after the Hebrew press
reported a "pogrom" in
Boston (which, on check-
ing with my New York of-
fice, I learned was one of
the then frequent racial
gang clashes over "turf"
in Scollay Square.) He
was still excited by the
news and exclaimed to
me: "You mark my
words! The day will come
when you American
Jews will get down on
your knees and thank
God there's a Jewish na-
tional home here to give
you refuge!"

Separate Entities

For him, the Jewish state
was 'all in all and he could
not conceive of Jews living
outside it: Chaim Weiz-
mann, without whom Israel
would never have seen the
light, saw it otherwise. To
him, Zionism was "a force
for life and creativity resid-
ing in the Jewish masses. It
was not simply the blind
need of an exiled-people for a
home of its own," he wrote
in his autobiography.
He envisaged the reborn
Jewish state as a center of
religion, culture and
creativity and the spiritual
home for Jews all over the
world. I spoke with him for
the last time when he re-
turned to Israel to assume
his role as head of the new
state. He talked then of the
centrality of the Jewish
homeland for all Jews and
his vision of the Jewish
state as a center of know-
ledge and culture for the
world.
Nahum Goldmann, the
most cosmopolitan of all the
Zionist leaders, believes
that the majority of the
Jews will continue to live
outside Israel throughout
the world. The challenge to
Israel, he wrote in his au-
tobiography, was "creating
a new awareness of unity
that would bring together in
one great community the
Jews who lived 'normally' in
their own country and the
scattered minorities in the
Diaspora." That,the state of
Israel has not yet ac-
complished.
The Zionist belief that
the Jews must have a na-
tional home of their own
never penetrated deeply
into the American Jewish
masses nor even into the
leadership, very proba-
bly because the Ameri-
can Jew never thought he
had to find another home.

Our interest has been
religious-inspired ("next
year in Jerusalem") and
philanthropically moti-
vated. We have seen man-
dated Palestine and then
the state of Israel as a home
for the persecuted and the
homeless survivors of the
Holocaust, a refugee for
Jews unwanted elsewhere
and a place where the
Jewish genius could
flourish to our pride and
satisfaction. But it was not
for us. We had the satisfac-
tion of knowing that we had
done good for others who
needed our help.
We were able to take
pride in Israel's achieve-
ments — the amazing skill
of the Israeli pilots, the
courage and daring of En-
tebbe, the cultural and sci-
entific accomplishments of
the great institutions we
built there.
We have to admit it: our
interests are fraternal, so-
cial and philanthropic; they
are not based on a complete
identity with the land. If
they were, we would be in
Israel today, not here in the -
United States.
For the American Jew,
the United States is his
home and his country,
the object of his primary
allegiance. That does not

inhibit his love and sup-
port of Israel which does
not diminish in any way
his loyalty to America.
The anti - Semite doesn't
want to understand this;
some of our politicians
don't see it and too many
Israelis simply cannot
comprehend it.
I happen to hold with
Ben-Gtirion that the place
for a Zionist is in the Jewish
state. One can love and as-
sist Israel without subsrib-
ing to a concept that the Jew
can be at home only in his
own homeland.
Truly there is a need for
the Israel government to
reassess its relations with
the Diaspora; it should rec-
ognize obligations to them
as well as to expect them, as
a matter of course, to pro-
vide financial and political
assistance. But American
Jews cannot leap to atten-
tion, salute and carry out
orders the prime minister of
Israel may see fit to issue.
The American Jewish
community is not an Israeli
colony. At the same time,
our political leaders in
Washington should recog-
nize that Israel and Ameri-
can Jewry are not
synonymous terms and
cease attempts to browbeat
American Jews into silence
on issues on which they feel
strongly and have every
right to speak.

Czech Jews Get
New Prayerbook

NEW YORK (JTA) —
Rabbi Arthur Schneier,
head of the Appeal of Con-
science Foundation, dis-
closed he had received a let-
ter of thanks from officials
of the Council ofJewish Re-
ligious Communities in the
Czech Socialist Republic for
2,000 copies of a rare
Hebrew-Czech prayerbook.
He said he had discovered
the rare prayerbook in 1979
when he headed a founda-
tion delegation to Prague.
He said he negotiated with
Dr. Karl Hruza, president of
the State Council for Religi-
ous Affairs, and received
permission to take the rare
prayerbook back to New
York and to send copies to
Czech Jews.
He said the 2,000 copies
were made by facsimile and
sent to the Council of
Jewish Religious Com-
munities in time for use
during the current High
Holy Days.
He said the negotiations
for permission to print and
to arrange for distribution
of the facsimile copies lasted
two years. The facsimile
edition was financed by the
foundation.

Moscow Invites
French Rabbi

PARIS (JTA) — France's
Chief Rabbi Rene Sirat has
received an official invita-
tion to visit Moscow next
year at the head of a French
rabbinical delegation.
A member of the Soviet
Embassy in Paris called on
Sirat on Rosh Hashana eve,
to deliver the invitation
from Moscow's Chief Rabbi
Joseph Fiahmann.

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