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February 25, 1983 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-02-25

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2 Friday, February 25, 1983


Purely Commentary

Need for Identity as Major '
World Jewish Responsibility

Yehoshaphat Harkaby, a former Israel chief of army
intelligence, had a warning for world Jewry when he ad-
dressed the recent World Jewish Congress sessions in
He made the point that far more serious, for considera-
tion by Jews everywhere, than even the worst in terrorism,
is the lack of proper identification with their people by
young Jews.
These were not his exact words, but they represent the
basic sense of his urging that all-efforts be exerted for the
strengthening of educational objectives, for an aspiration
to high cultural values — for an identity by Jews as con-
cerned Jews.
Few are as well informed on the Arab-Jewish situation
as the former Israel army general. When this commentator
interviewed him, perhaps 20 years ago, in his dingy Tel
Aviv office, he was a hawk. He is now a leading Israeli
dove. He has held professorial positions in American uni-
versities, including Harvard. At the time of this reporter's
interview with him, he had read some 170 out of the then
available 250 Arab language books on the Middle East — in
the original Arabic.
Harkaby's concerns are not new to this generation. He
emphasized the urgency of placing priority on Jewish edu-
cational programs. He pleaded for identifications that are
becoming minimal. His views portray an important
member of Israel's military as even more vital in its ap-
proaches to the communal needs of Jews everywhere. His
role as an eminent educator lends significance to the man-
ner in which he has seen an emergence of weakening in
Diaspora ranks.
The seriousness with which the problem of a lessened
identity is viewed by responsible Jewish spokesmen is vital
at all times. Every holiday period adds significance to it.
Purim is no exception to the rule for applying every
occasion on the Jewish calendar for discussion of the ills
that affect Jewry and the urgency to confront them.
Perhaps it is an especially applicable time because the
problem as it emerges today is more than anti-Semitism.
Prof. (Gen.) Harkaby implied it. Much more important is
the ability to confront challenges.
With so much talk about giving priority to the educa-
tion of children, it is becoming apparent, more than ever,
that adult education is equally vital. Yet it is in a reduced
state of interest and therefore receives less and less atten-
tion as time proceeds. It was not so long ago, when every
congregation had adult courses. Now the difficulty to sec-
ure proper enrollments has compelled Conservative
synagogues to unite the hitherto well-attended, singly
functioning courses to combine into one program based on
hopes that there will be proper enrollments, the same pro-
cedure applying to the unification of Reform congregation
classes because singly there is a struggle for attendance.
- Every effort to make adult education a reality calls for
encouragement. The adult has as much to learn as his child,
extensive knowledge having suffered immensely. That's
where proper identification becomes a duty. People who
commendably respond with great generosity in the philan-
thropic sense must consider it obligatory to be knowledge-
It isn't a new lesson for Purim. Nor is need to em-
phasize it limited to any one occasion on the Jewish calen-
dar. It emerges as a daily realization that if the Jew is to be
able to control the ramparts in the battle for dignified
existence, it must be on the basis of being well-informed
Jewishly, treating knowledge as the basic weapon for the
dignified community of Jewry as a world entity. This
merits elevation to the highest ranks of the lessons taught
by a festival basically about the triumph over anti-
Semitism. If this lesson can be learned, even philanthropy
will benefit.
Such is the greeting for priority, while enjoying hilar-
ity, on Purim.

The Lesson of Resistance
to Orders to Perform Cruelly

Jewish ethical codes again emerged demonstrably as
predominant and as the guiding spirit without concession
or negation.
The conviction last week of members of Israel's milit-
ary officials on charges of cruelties practiced against Arabs
in the administered territory occupied after the 1967 Six-
Day War was a message of reaffirmation that the human
factor must never be sacrificed. The judicial declaration in
meting out justice, in the condemnation of cruelties that
were perpetrated by Israelis, with an emphasis that no one
can claim the submission to orders by ruling authorities
when such commands are illegal and inhuman, placed on
record a policy never to be ignored.
Those who claim compulsion to submit to military or-
ders under any circumstances have and are echoing the
defense of Adolf Eichmann and his ilk. They have been
reflected before, as they were again last week by the Israel
• military court.
Submission to orders as a patriotic and military duty

Purim Has Its Lesson as Joyous Holiday Gesture,
Beckoning to Generations to Make Learning a Top
Priority . . . Lesson of Immorality of Order Taking

had become an established defense in the pro-Nazi era. It
was resorted to during the Vietnamese humiliating period
in the Calley My Lai Case. That's when, in this column
(Purely Commentary, April 1971), the views of an eminent
Catholic who served as a chaplain in the U.S. Armed Forces
were shared with the Jewish ethical commitments. To em-
phasize that order taking is immoral, that column drew
upon the following:
The Calley My Lai Case:
Immorality of Order-Taking
William L. Calley, Jr., may or may not emerge
a national hero. But his and the My Lai case revive
the basic issue affecting the rejection of Nazism
and the obligation never to forget the Holocaust
and to protect mankind against the repetition of
the crimes that stemmed from Hitlerism and re-
lated brutalities.
The Nuremburg trial was recalled in the dis-
cussions about My Lai and Lieutenant Calley.
Taking orders in the service of one's country is
being ruled an irrefutable obligation. Is it? Unless
we now negate the entire procedure that marked
mankind's condemnation of Nazism, we must re-
ject blind submission to rulers, army officers, or
whoever would destroy the basic human values.
Let us turn back the pages of time and recall
an admonition from a Catholic priest. In "A
Soldier Priest Talks to Youth," Maj. Gen. Patrick
J. Ryan, former chief of the army chaplains, offers
advice to our young men and women on the prob-
lems that face them in everyday life. As the title
denotes, the approach is that of a Catholic, but the
advice is applicable to all faiths. Because of his
distinguished army career, it is especially in-
teresting to note that Gen. Ryan disputes the
Eichmann theory of "following orders."
He declares in all seriousness that "a patriot
is not the man who says, as Stephen Decatur once
did, 'My country, right or wrong, but right or
wrong, my country.' If your country is wrong, you
must work to make her right, if only because you
love her so and it pains you to see her embarked
on a wicked course." Ryan continues:
"The men who followed Hitler and Mussolini
said, 'My country right or wrong,' and we all
know the beastliness that the Nazis turned loose
on the world. Look at Adolph Eichmann, the Nazi
official whom Israel hanged in June of 1962 for
having done most to organize the slaughter of six
million Jews during the Nazi persecution.
Eichmann's defense throughout his trial was that
he was 'following orders!' He pleaded that he was
serving his country!
"Could any man have done his country a
greater disservice than to have followed the
bloody path that led to the destruction of Ger-
many from the air and its division into two sepa-
rate, hostile camps?
"No one can place country above conscience,
any more than he can place loved ones above
conscience. The Church teaches us that the
Fourth Commandment, on which patriotism is
based, also commands: 'Obey your mother and
father in all that is not sin.' The same applies to the
fatherland. If you saw your father striking a crip-
ple, you. would be horrified and very quick to
plead with him to stop. The same should apply to
you if — God forbid — you should find your coun-
try bullying a little land or mistreating minorities
within its own community. You love the face of
your country too much to see it disfigured by
brutality or prejudice."
Unless we adhere to these principles, we will
be turning back the clock that indicated man-
kind's emergence from barbarianism to
How do Israeli soldiers respond to order-
taking? In an article entitled, "Gaza Report: Ter-
ror and the Frontier-Guards," in New Outlook, we
"A year ago, Israeli soldiers stationed in the
Gaza Strip were permitted to do what is still for-
bidden in other occupied territories—to shoot in
the direction of a grenade-thrower even if he
melts into a crowd. But most of the soldiers on
patrol told their commanders that they could not
do this: they refused on the grounds that such an
action risked injury to innocent bystanders. Re-
vealing this on Jan. 6, Gen. Dayan added, 'And I
must tell you that I am proud that our soldiers,
daily exposed to these killers, refused the permis-
sion.' "
It is true that Israeli soldiers have been given
the right to protect themselves in the horribly
dangerous Gaza area where life is endangered.
Terrorists have endangered the lives of all who
visit that area, and that is why Israelis who are
there must protect themselves.

By Philip

But orders are not followed blindly by Is-
raelis! They do not tolerate murder! In this spirit
we adhere to the idea expressed by Father Ryan;
pursued by Israeli soldiers, that blind submission
to orders from above is wrong!
Let this be the lesson in the Calley My Lai
Israel's military court reaffirmed these principles
by sentencing guilty army officials last week. An Israel
court of inquiry declared it in the Lebanese case. Whoever
may attempt to deny or denigrate them, the Jewish code of
ethics and high moral principles remain supreme.

Reminding Ronald Reagan:
Jerusalem Campaign Pledge

When President Ronald Reagan issued his policy
statement on Israel, on Sept. 1, 1982, this newspaper im-
mediately called attention to a drastic change in diplomatic
attitudes by a spokesman for this nation, in the President's
submission of Jerusalem to "negotiations." By making the
capital of Israel "negotiable," although the President com-
mitted himself to retaining it as an "undivided city," he
underlined his own proposals for peace.
Since that date of policy-changing, there have been
many reports of "Presidential anger," of disaffections with
Israel's elected officials, although on the part of many
American spokesmen there has been tongue-in-cheek ad-
mission that selection of duly-elected governments is Is-
rael's business, not to be tampered with. Nevertheless,
government and press continue to tamper with such basic
rights of a free nation.
It is therefore time to resort to an Alfred Smith
acclaim, "Let's look at the record."
William Safire, in his New York Times Op-Ed Page
essay, Feb. 21, leads all concerned to the record. He recalls
what Ronald Reagan said, and emphasized it, as a cam-
paigner for the major office in this land. Therefore the
justification of Safire entitling his essay "Mideast Cam-
paign Oratory." Therein he presents the record to show how
President Reagan advocated without restraint recognition
of Jerusalem as Israel's capital by this nation.
Here are the facts offered as the record by Safire:
In 1980, I slipped into a meeting between
Ronald Reagan and a group of American suppor-
ters of Israel. Candidate Reagan excoriated
President Carter for permitting our ambassador
to vote in the UN to condemn Israel's settlements
in the West Bank: "The West Bank," he declared
firmly, "should be a decision worked out by Jor-
dan and Israel."
Asked about the status of Jerusalem, he re-
plied that the city should be undivided, and
pressed further, added unequivocally "the sover-
eignty is Israel's." After the meeting, I asked him
to repeat it slowly so I could check my notes. He
looked toward Ed Meese, who nodded his okay at
reaffirmation. "An undivided city of Jerusalem,"
said Mr. Reagan, "means sovereignty for Israel
over that city."
When that appeared in my column the next
day, I received a call from Mr. Reagan, campaign-
ing in the Midwest: "That's exactly what I said
and what I mean." Soon after, his foreign policy
adviser, Richard Allen, confirmed the clear pro-
Israel stands in the Washington Post. A year later,
Ed Meese recalled the Reagan commitment on
Jerusalem and said to me, "Maybe when they
write a history of that city, that day will rate an
What happened? Ed Meese was moved out of
foreign policy and Richard Allen was ousted. Re-
agan Mideast policy is decided by George Shultz
and Caspar Weinberger, who do not want to re-
member what the candidate said before he came
under their influence.
As a result, the "Reagan Middle East Peace
Plan" forgets all about letting the West Bank "be a
decision worked out by Jordan and Israel" — as
called for in the Camp David accords — and
awards sovereignty to the Arabs. One might
think, since evenhandedness was the new
watchword and the U.S. was making unilateral
decisions on sovereignty, the State Department
would at least confirm the Reagan commitment to
an undivided Israeli Jerusalem. No; that was left
as a matter to be negotiated.
There is a natural hesitancy in resorting to criti-
cism of the President. The respect for that high office is also
the self-respect of citizens. To retain and to assure the
respect that is due it, the Presidency must be on the highest
level. Campaign oratory is never total sanctity. But there is
the record relating to the sanctity of a major international
issue, and it demands that Jerusalem be honored and re-
spected as the inerasable center of historic significance for
Jews everywhere, and therefore now again as the capital of
Israel. This is the record. It was stated as such by the man
who sought the Presidency. The justice inherent in the
record is that it be reaffirmed by the President.

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