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July 23, 1982 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-07-23

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'Friday, July 23; 1982

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Purely Commentary

By Philip
Slomovitz

A Major Responsibility of Public Opinion and the Jewish
Community: To Avoid Confusion, to Deal With the Basics
Relating to Jewish Unity and to Expose the Arafat Fakes

Unity Is Not a Mirage of the Desert and Must Be Treated as the Aim of World Jewry

Confusion has become the order of the day out of the multiplicity of occurrences in
the Middle East. For many Jews it is an especially aggravating collection of occurrences
that contribute to tension and uncertainty.
Any conflict with Arab antagonists spells serious threat to Israel. Therefore Jews
who must stand by the Jewish state are affected and involved.
It had never failed that whenever there is a conflict or a controversy there is the
element that waves an accusatory finger at American Jewry, warning them not to
hesitate to criticize Israel. There is so much criticism of Israel, the ranks are always so
divided, that such charges don't always make sense. American Jewry, as an example in
judging the Diaspora, while in the main an admiring factor for Mena.hem Begin, has a
strong anti-Likud element.
Since more attention now is given to Jews who demonstrate protestingly against the
Begin government for what keeps being termed the "invasion" of Lebanon, the demonst-
rations can not be ignored. Neither can the critics of Israel who have added to confusions
with paid, high-priced advertisements in several leading American communities, with
false accusations so disruptive that they portray Israelis as barbarians.
That's why there is such vital need to prevent confusions which will poison not only
the American people but also Jews who are so deeply involved.
Is it true that Jews are so vastly divided that it justifies the emphasis in the media is
as if the battle against PLOism is an unjustified approach to illiberalism and a kind of
Jewish militarism aimed at territorial expansionism? Is this the standard rooted in
anti-Israelism?
It must, at the outset, be recorded to the credit of American Jewry that it has not
submitted to the disruptive tactics of enemies who are poisoning the minds of uninformed
readers of newspaper articles and media emphasis on the Peace Now movement. There
has never been a mere Peace Now approach because the aim for peace is permanent, for
all seasons. The attacks from negators are also never new. The response to Israel's needs
has been, hopefully will remain, a continuity.
It is all reflected in the unanimity expressed by all, and the emphasis remains on all.
There is certain to be an emergency fundraising to uplift Israel, in support of incoming
immigrants, the nation's social services and universities. The anticipation is that it will
not be undermined by disruptive elements, even if they are Jews who have figured
prominently as rabbis gz. as best-selling authors. If they are destructive, they must be
exposed and condemned — all in the interest of a unified people adhering to the obliga-
tion of defending the Jewish state that is constantly under threat of annihilation. Israel
wasn't built for another Tisha b'Av.
The accusers who have acquired a platform may call those in Israel's unity ranks
conservative. Some will be called reactionary. The accusers claim life-long association
with Zionism, as did Nat Hentoff and Richard Cohen. They are welcome to remain in the
ranks, and they must be constructive. Some, like Balfour Brickner, carry historic names,
of Balfour the author of the famous declaration and the Brickner who was a builder of
Zion. But they do not lend strength to a people in need at a time when so many
villifications are leveled at them.
It has become a dispute, and newspapers and media are filled with the story of "Jews
divided." Therefore, for "Jews united" there must be an effort to prevent continuing
confusion. A declaration by Lebanese Americans did more in that regard than much that
was done in Jewish ranks.
The pity is that other responsible Jewish intellectuals such as Leonard Fein should
have associated with the condemners of Israel.
Irving Howe's name on the list of protesters doesn't contribute to unity in Jewish
ranks.
They all made the headlines and the negative disputants were rebuked in a state-
ment by Norman Podhoretz, who is often a target of the referred-to liberals. It is therefore
proper, in order not to permit distortions and villifications constantly to be given cre-
dence under the charge of "reactionarism," to quote a statement attributed to Podhoretz
in an article in the New York Times by Paul L. Montgomery:
Norman Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary magazine and perhaps
the most unbending supporter of Israel among secular intellectuals, said he
had seen no surprises among those who had written against Israeli policy in
recent weeks or signed statements against it.
"Some people who associated Nat Glazer and Marty Lipset in .a lump
with me and Irving Kristol and the rest were surprised by them," he said,
"but it was less of a change for them than people thought."
Mr. Podhoretz said most of the dissidents were people who had shown
little concern for Israel in the past. "This is just a guess, but maybe 10
percent — even 15 percent — of American Jews have been unsympathetic
or indifferent to Israel," he said. "Those people tend to surface on certain
occasions. You're getting some who were converted to Israel in 1973, and
are being converted now, but they were never very strong supporters in the
first place."
The editor said he also objected to the style of dissent. "The way people
congratulate themselves in dissenting is offensive to me," he said. "They say
it takes courage, but if anything it takes courage to support Israel in certain
circles. They're conforming in those circles, in my opinion."
It is most unfortunate that the issue had to be thus confronted, but it is at the
invitation of the referred to critics who are not available in time of crisis, but are on hand
to criticize when unity is so urgently needed.
Rabbis have been drawn into the disputes and some, like an officer of the Central
Conference of American Rabbis, has been publicized as "an opponent of the Israel war in
Lebanon." Rabbi Brickner told Montgomery that the aim of his "peace" associates was to
make "the government' of Israel nervous." Therefore the need to quote a refutation, also
from the Montgomery NYTimes article:
"Don't get me wrong, nobody is celebrating, but I find American Jews
really quite unified on this question," said Rabbi Joseph B. Glaser, execu-
tive vice president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, a Reform
body with a membership of 1,400. "Those sounding off most shrilly are the
same old gang that has been criticizing Israel all the way down the line. The
sound volume is up, but not the numbers."

To avoid confusion, there is the added need to refer to a major item, labeled Arafat,
who figures so prominently in the tense matters that cause confusion. Now the PLO chief
is being labeled moderate. Suddenly, some claim he would recognize Israel's existance.
Thus, Uri Avneri, editor and publisher of Haolam Hazeh, went to interview Arafat,
thereby creating resentment in his native land but retaining the right so readily granted
by Israel to speak and write as he chooses. Avneri wrote a NYTimes Op-Ed article

entitled "Arafat and Peace." In interviews televised thereafter he wished it to be assumed
that Arafat is the peace-seeker. Here is a portion of the NYTimes article:
AVNERI: I think this war happened because the great majority of
Israelis, who I think are basically peace-loving people, have become con-
vinced by our official propaganda that the PLO does not really want peace.
ARAFAT: The PLO? You know it is not so. We have declared our
approval for the American-Soviet communique in October 1977. (This
communique proposed a reconvened Geneva conference to safeguard the
existence of Israel and the rights of the Palestinians. It brought strong
Israeli objections and was overtaken by events when President Anwar
el-Sadat visited Jerusalem the next month.) We have declared our approval
and appreciation for President Brezhnev's initiative (of last year).
AVNERI: Which says that the security of all state in the area, including
Israel, which it explicitly mentions, will be safeguarded.
ARAFAT: You see, when we have said OK to this initiative, this mean'
that we accepted all its items. We said that it is a good platform for
peaceful settlement, for a just solution in the Middle East. And you re-
member that I myself have declared that the Fand proposals are a very
good platform for a solution in the Middle East. So we gave many signals
that we are looking for peace.

BALFOUR BRICKNER

IRVING HOWE

NORMAN PODHORETZ

AVNERI: You see, I believe that in the end, after everything is finished,
there should be an Israeli state and a Palestinian state, with its capital in
East Jerusalem, and there should be a general regional organization unify-
ing all the Arab states and Israel together in one economic and political
union.
ARAFAT: Abba Eban proposes a Benelux. Yes.
AVNERI: When you say Palestine, what do you mean by Palestine?
ARAFAT: For all of us? All Palestine. For you and for us.
AVNERI: Together, you mean?
ARAFAT: Together, why not?
AVNERI: You don't mean a separate state for the Palestinians?
ARAFAT: You know our famous slogan: a democratic secular state. If
this is not the solution, then two separate states.
AVNERI: About what part of Palestine are you talking for the Palesti-
nian state?
ARAFAT: We are ready to live in any part of Palestine from which the
Israelis withdraw or which will be liberated. Any part.
AVNERI: In practice, this means the West Bank and the Gaza Strip?
ARAFAT: Any part.
AVNERI: Does that mean peace, real peace?
ARAFAT, Yes, it does. It's not the Palestinians, it's the Israelis who
don't want it. And yet, the Jews should know better than anyone else that
even if they succeed in annihilating half a million Palestinians in Lebanon,
four million will remain elsewhere and carry on. Can Israel fight forever?
Where will it be in 10, 20, 50 years?
Everything said and done, prior to this time, in the interim, by Arafat and his
cohorts, points to the aim: get into Palestine, meaning Israel of course, get a foothold
anywhere, in Gaza or Judea-Samaria, and then the demand of a quest for all of Israel.
That would mean the annihilation of a people and a state.
This is one of the confusing elements to be dealt with.
There has to be a sense of responsibility in dealing with Israel and her problems.
The duty of those speaking for unity in Jewish ranks is to strive for elimination of
confusion.
It exists and must be abandoned.
They who speak in terms of peace while ignoring that this is Israel's and Jewry's
basic aim and hope must adhere to the facts. There are villifications and distortions of
truth and they must be confronted honorably, and courageously.
In the long run, there is little to disprove the reality of the basic trends in Jewish
ranks, that there will be unity.

The Craving for Clarification of Muddied Issues

The longer the warfare continues in Lebanon, the more tragic the spread of
animosities.
There is so much misunderstanding about many of the factors in the conflict that t1 -1
chief hope is for facts and truth to establish a sense of normalcy.
It's muddied in Washington, and the attitudes of some Congressmen, as evidenced in
Michigan ranks as well, is deplorable.
Criticism of Israel must never be stifled, but condemnation should be based on
realities. The attitude of some of the youthful critics is regrettable in the sense that the
attackers tend to accept the distortions rather than look at the facts and the record of
Middle East experiences.
More than ever, there is the great need for a sound public relations program to clarify
the issues. In a sense it exists, but the misfortune is that much of the factual either does
not reach the public, or the already prejudiced refuse to read or to listen.
The hope, therefore, is for attainment of the ears and eyes of the prejudiced, that they
will not deny an ear to the appeals to reason or an eye to read the facts that refute the
anti-Israel bias.

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