2 Friday, March 12, 1982
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS S5
Mitterrand Comes to Knesset,
Reviving Cheerful Hopes
Francois Mitterrand proved to be a cheerful man. He
came to the Knesset, bringing with him memories of
friendly relations between Israel and France. He expressed
views about Palestinians that are hardly tolerable. They
are disputable. Yet, the friendly note remains. He did not
utter differing views with malice.
The conflicting eras of Charles DeGaulle come to mind.
The French patriot of the anti-Nazi era had been very
friendly to and with Jews. There came a change. It occurred
after the Six-Day War of 1967. His attitude changed. Per-
haps it was the beginning of the period of Arab threats of
embargos. Else, the New York Times would not have writ-
ten editorially, Dec. 28, 1967:
"General DeGaulle's new Middle East policy is being
decked with the mystification appropriate to a major Gaul-
list departure. Will Israel still get the 50 Mirages she
bought before the June war? Will France sell some Mirages
to Iraq in exchange for oil concessions?"
DeGaulle could not have been called an anti-Semite
prior to the June 1967 attack on the Jews. His remarks, at a
press conference, Nov. 27, 1967, were widely interpreted as
anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. He accused Jews of seeking
David Ben-Gurion wrote a reply, Dec. 6, 1967. Ex-
cerpts from that classic 7,000-word letter are applicable to
situations today. Therefore, the necessity to quote them
I would like to remind you, dear General, of our
conversation during my visit in June 1960 in the
garden of the Elysee Palace. Also present were
Premier Debre and my friend, Shimon Peres. You
asked me: "What are your dreams for the real
borders of Israel? Tell me, I will not repeat it to
anyone else." I answered: "If you had asked me
that question 25 years ago, I would have said that
the northern border is the Litani River and the
eastern the Jordan — and I conducted negotia-
tions on this with Arab leaders.
"But you ask me today. I'll tell you. We have two
main aims: peace with our neighbors, and a great
Jewish immigration. The area of the land of Israel
in our hands can absorb many more Jews than
the number of those likely to come, and therefore
the borders we have are sufficient and, please
God, the Arabs should sign a peace treaty with us
on the basis of the status quo."
Then you asked: "What is the relationship be-
tween the state of Israel and American Jewry?" I
replied: "The economic, political and cultural
situation of American Jews is good, but all the
same they have a profound relationship with the
state of Israel."
Even after the Sinai Campaign and the Six-Day
War, I can assure you that it was not because of
our wish to expand Israeli territory that the two
wars took place. If only Egypt had kept its under-
takings under the cease-fire agreements, and the
Security Council ,resolutions on freedom of ship-
ping in the Suez Canal and especially the Straits
of Eilat (or Aqaba) — and the rulers of Egypt and
Syria had not declared day after day that their
purpose was the annihilation of Israel — it would
never have occurred to us to deviate from the
borders set out by the cease-fire agreements.
I know that the government of the Fourth Re-
public and you, my dear General, have kept the
French Embassy, like other European countries
as well as the U.S. and Russia, in Tel Aviv. But all
the meetings with ambassadors took place in
Jerusalem. And I am unaware of a single protest
from the United Nations, or one of its members,
after the government of Jordan in 1948 conquered
the Old City of Jerusalem and expelled the Jews
therefrom and destroyed its synagogues and
blocked our access to the holy places — all in
contravention of the cease-fire agreements.
We have never harmed any Christian or Moslem
places of worship in our area, and we demand no
special credit for that. It was out of a human obli-
gation and a sense of honor for others' beliefs.
I know that my people, no less than others, is
devoutly loyal to the vision of world peace; that
the prophets of Israel were among the first in
human history to witness its coming. If the great
powers would influence the Arab peoples to keep
the peace in the Middle East— and they can do so,
because the Arab nations require arms from the
great powers and much time will elapse until they
can produce these weapons on their own — I am
convinced that Israel will never break the peace.
As a man who was prime minister during the
Fifth Republic, I know that the friendly relations
that obtained between our countries ever since
the renaissance of Israel also held during the days
of the Fifth Republic, and I did not expect a
Francois Mitterrand's Knesset Appearance as a Gesture
of Friendship ... Recollection of the Era When DeGaulle
Waxed Anti-Semitic and Was Challenged by Ben-Gurion
friendship more faithful or sincere than I found
with you. You wish for good and friendly relations
with the Arab states. I do not see this in opposition
to continued friendship with Israel. Even though
the Arab rulers continue to threaten us with de-
struction, as beforehand, I would not advise any
nation to break off ties with the Arab states.
But in so far as we will be obliged to defend
ourselves, I do not want the soldiers of other na-
tions to die in our defense, but that our sons
should defend our people. What I would ask of our
friends is that they should not withhold from us
the help necessary to keep our deterrent force
capable of stopping our neighbors from attacking
I must beg your pardon for being so lengthy. I
felt it my duty — if only out of gratitude for your
friendship and help for Israel, and for the per-
sonal friendship you showed me this year in our
recent meeting (at Konrad Adenauer's funeral) —
to explain to you our true position on interna-
tional issues. We believe that the Jew deserves
what is the due of every man, and the Jewish
people deserves what is due to every nation, small
or large. We consider ourselves equal in every-
thing, and duty-bound in all,.no less and no more.
As to the "elite" people you mentioned in your
speech, the Jewish people was the first people in
the world that recognized the one and only God,
and thereby it became a peculiar people, a chosen
people. It is clear, according to our faith, that the
Almighty did not choose Israel, but Israel chose
the Almighty — and that is an historic fact known
to every Christian and Moslem in the world. But
our people does not consider itself superior to
others. Naturally, we take pride that it was our
law that said for the first time: "Love thy neighbor
I hope that friendly relations _between Israel
and France — as part of the friendly relations
between all peoples — will continue with your
assistance and the help of every people and per-
son faithful to the ideals of the Book of Books.
The complete Ben-Gurion-to-DeGaulle letter is, as
stated, a classic. It is like a textbook for students of Zionism
and for friends of Israel, for people seeking justice. It re-
states the Zionist aims, the Jewish hope for national rede-
mption, the sufferings that were sustained, the experiences
among the nations.
The above quote's concluding paragraphs serve a spe ,
cial purpose at this time as a reaffirmation of the hope for
revival of the friendliest French-Israeli relations.
The Mitterrand record negates the DeGaulle incrimi-
nations. The current president of France visited Israel
numerous times. He is a friend of Israel's labor leaders.
There is a chance of renewing friendliest relations with
Israel, including the sale of military hardware and provid-
ing Israel with means of building a nuclear reactor.
The Palestinian issue? It is doubtful whether he would
ever condone fraternizing with the PLO. He is probably
more favorable to Israel than Zbigniew Brzezinski was on
television on 'Sunday.
Of course, there are conflicts, controversies, disputes,
over Palestinians and the PLO. There are some Jews who
have gone farther than Francois Mitterrand in their advo-
cacy of talking with the PLO. And there are some members
of the Israel government who could be more cautious in
tackling their national issues. Ariel Sharon certainly could
have offered a better image than he provided on TV on
Sunday with regard to arms for Jordan.
Most serious of all is the dynamite-filled date of April
25. In the interest of peace, Israel made great concessions.
The Sinai is to be abandoned, at a sacrifice of national and
historic dignity. Will the peace aims remain intact or will
they collapse? The interim period is marked by agonies;
Jews being ousted from settlements in the Sinai, sen-
sationalism being rampant under the headlines "Jews
Peace is worth sacrificing for as well as fighting for.
Since Anwar Sadat came to Jerusalem, there were no Is-
raeli and Egyptian casualties. Such relationships between
nations are worth adhering to. Will Egypt cooperate, or will
Hosni Mubarak seek reconciliation with his Arab enemy-
compatriots at the expense of Israel? Time is so much of the
Rebecca Gratz the Honoree
at Hands of Washington
Irving and Walter Scott
It was in the Autumn of 1817 that Sir Walter Scott was
welcoming an equally famous author from the United
States. Washington Irving was his guest and in their con-
versation the eminent American told him about a great
lady, a very devout Jewess, the beautiful Rebecca Gratz.
Sir Walter, who was then in the process of writing his
"Ivanhoe," drew upon that report to include the daughter of
the Jew in his novel, Isaac of York, naming her Rebecca.
Rebecca Gratz's charm, her many philanthropic activi-
ties, her devotion to her faith as a Jewess, her beauty,
fascinated the author of "Ivanhoe."
In 1819, having completed the novel, Sir Walter sent a
copy of it to Washington Irving: "How do you like your
Rebecca? Does the Rebecca I have pictured compare well
with your pattern?"
The three-hour televised
story of "Ivanhoe" produced
by CBS would have gained
increased attention had this
fact been recorded — that
Rebecca of York was the
Rebecca Gratz who, on the
200th anniversary of her
birth, in February of 19
was elected to the Je
American Hall of Fam
Her name now appears on
that honor roll together
with Albert Einstein, Hen-
rietta Szold, Louis D. Bran-
deis, Judah Magnes, George
Gershwin, Hayim Salomon,
Herbert H. Lehman, Ger-
shom Seixas, Golda Meir
and Jonas Salk.
To the credit of Rebecca Gratz was her secretaryship of
,the Female Association for the Relief of Women and Chil-
dren in Reduced Circumstances, founder of the Philadel-
phia Orphan Society and the Hebrew Sunday School
A human factor qualitatively elected Rebecca Gratz to
a high level of devotion to family and fellow humans. Her
parents and grandparents were industrially and commun-
ally well-fixed. They made notable contributions to the
advancement of Philadelphia's art, education, culture and
business life. Rebecca never married. Yet, she made a home
for unmarried brothers and reared the nine orphaned chil-
dren of her sister Rachel Moses.
This eminent Philadelphia Jewess died in 1869 at the
age of 88, having recorded her name among the most dis-
tinguished Jews in early American history.
While she is especially noted as the founder of the
Jewish Sunday School movement in America, the manner
in which she was portrayed in the CBS "Ivanhoe" lent new
credence to a noble personality who enriched Jewish life
and left a mark of fame in American feminism.
Pro-PLO Fact-Tracing of
Jewish Rights in Jerusalem
Jerusalem continues on the agenda of disputes, in the
attempt to deny its historic value for Israel and world
Jewry. The debate over Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak's proposed visit to Israel which, at Israel's de-
mand, must include Jerusalem, adds to the controversy.
Those who would deny Israel's rights to Jerusalem,
world Jewry's inerasable role in the historic link of the
Holy City with Jewish history, would do well to look at the
record. Near East Report has just made known a report in
the pro-PLO newspaper published in East Jerusalem, the
Al Fajr, presenting new information confirming age-old
Jewish ownership, in the Old City of Jerusalem, Hebron
and the adjoining areas now occupied by Arabs.
Some of the houses, Al-Fajr notes, "were built
on lands purchased more than 300 years ago and
registered in the Ottoman perisld 'tabu' (land re-
gistry)." These revelations flow from what the
paper calls a whole range of operations intended
to uncover such connections. "So far," according
to the Arab weekly, "officials have announced
thousands of dunams of lands have been dis-
covered, in Arab villages, which were purchased
by Jews in the last century and in the 1920s." In
many places, the lands were not put to any use,
but in other villages the lands have been tilled,
houses were built that are now occupied by Pales-
tinian Arabs. "The occurants," Al-Fajr com-
ments, "have not denied the fact that the land is
not theirs and many have stated they are pre-
pared to pay rent."
The investigation based itself on old books, an
cient personal diaries and old property registers —
and has led to the discovery of houses "that no one
would have suspected once .belonged to Jews."
While it is described as "ironic," such revelations by
pro-PLO-Arabs are not necessary for proof of Jerusalem's
Jewish heritage. The deplorable aspect of the controversial
factor in the debate over Jerusalem is the misrepresenta-
tion in the statements by King Hussein and his supporters
with regard to freedom for all religions in the administra-
tion of Jerusalem. This has been achieved by Israel after
the abuses of it by Jordan.
Just as the Hebrew name of Jerusalem has not and will
not be changed, so also will the Holy City continue insepar-
ably from the state of Israel. And in that capacity religious
freedom will always be guaranteed.