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May 20, 1983 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-05-20

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12 Friday, May 20, 1983


The Bitter Legacy of Murdered Polish Jewry


were a divisive facto r be- memorating the Jewish vic-
tween the two c om- tims. For years, there was Labor Committee de- Union of American Hebrew reminder that the murdered
National Jewish
Congregations, claimed Jews of Europe and their
munities. Too man y of no Jewish yizkor pavilion at clined the invitation. The
Resource Center
were kapos (p ris- Auschwitz although all the other Jewish organiza- that the government had ashes lie in permanent exile
I once met an American
tions, including the given assurances that this
soldier who had liberated oner officials) who for ded other national groups killed World Jewish Congress would not be allowed to — in a place where the suc-
cessors of their enemies and
there were given memo- and the Union of Ameri-
Bergen-Belsen concentra-
murderers decide the policy
tion camp. He had grown up mates who were on the rials. The Jews were sub- can Hebrew Congrega-
The assurances proved of preservation and memo-
on a farm in Alabama and lowest rung; Jews w ere sumed under Polish losses tions (which has estab-
to be as reliable as the
he told me that his most totally dispensable and — a false distortion of their lished an important cul- human rights words of rial.
vivid memory of the camp worked to nothingn ess actual fate.
tural exchange program
The worst is that the sur-
before they were dis-
Finally, the government with Poland) and the of- totalitarians usually are. viving Jews cannot break
was connected to that fact.
am- conceded and allowed a sig-
He and a group of soldiers bers.
ficial Israeli delegation lay the wreath when the off the connection either —
nificant memorial to be accepted.
found a field of cabbages.
official Jewish delega- because Poland is where the
thin built but continued to chisel
The cabbages were monstr-
The Polish government tions were not there. Jews are buried.
sion and harass by repeatedly
ous — the largest he had 0
n the Holocaust; I took the keeping the place closed for made a gesture — it re- Some Israelis went home
The whole incident is a
ever seen — but when they
moved General Micezlaw in protest. Other Israelis
to the moral
were cooked, they were so position that it was poss ible "repairs" or other pretexts.
Moczar, a notorious anti- and the bulk of the
necessity of Zionism. One
bitter that they could not be t to include in the U.S. na-
Jewish delegates were
ional memorial the c
eaten. It turned out that
om- sary of the Warsaw Ghetto head of the Polish Veterans embarrassed but stayed. cannot yet totally stop
memoration of non-Jewi
people from killing Jews but
they had been planted in a w
sh Uprising loomed, the situa- Association so that he
The truth is that the at least, in Israel, the dig-
ea — such as the Poles
field which was a mass
whole matter was a humili- nity of the dead — and of the
ho died in Auschwitz. My
grave, fertilized by the
credible Solidarity move- ceremonies.
ation and another bitter living— is in Jewish hands.
arugument was that — as
bodies of thousands of Jews. 1
ong as the distinctions ment had won the hearts of
The story came back to w ere made clear — such as the world. The military dic-
made a big mistake in not
mind in following the news t hat Jews were all con- tatorship which suppressed
by Solidarity. (Un-
Boris Smolar's
accounts of the experiences d emned to death indepen- Solidarity was seeking re-
fortunately, this is clear
of the Jewish delegations to d ent of their behavior and spectability. It determined
only with hindsight.) Sol-
Warsaw to mark the 40th p oles were not — it would be to restore the great Warsaw idarity was the first popular
anniversary of the Warsaw po ssible to share the grief synagogue and to .com- or reformist movement in
memorate the Uprising in
Ghetto Uprising. After an to gether.
an imposing way. Invita- Poland that was not tainted
inner struggle, the great
I was shocked into a
with anti-Semitism. Indeed
majority of world Jewish re alization of how ambiva- tions were extended to
the government or its allies
organizations sent delega- le nt and hateful the matter major Jewish organizations tried . to fight Solidarity by
Emeritus, JTA
tions to the commemora- w as when one day a sur-
(Copyright 1983, JTA, Inc.)
Jewish groups were
tion, but the whole affair vi vor came up to me and ob-
udice by claiming that
was sour and even humiliat- j e cted vehemently against divided in their response
BUILDING BRIDGES: A- new approach in the rela-
individuals were
— even within them-
y position. "I know a
between American Jewry and Israel is now in the
selves — from the very
It is as if Poland con- p olish kapo who died in Au-
ing the movement.
making. It is an approach of "understanding one another."
tinues to bring forth fruit sc hwitz," he told me. "But
Solidarity resisted the
The matter had been thrashed out in a serious discus-
for which other Jews be fore he died, one day, in could one go to com-
age-old temptation of the sion held privately many years ago between then Israeli
stretch out their hand. m y presence, he stomped memorate the Warsaw "reformers" to outdo the
But when the fruit is m y brother to death, for a Ghetto Uprising — but to government's official anti- Premier David Ben-Gurion and Jacob Blaustein when the
latter was president of the American Jewish Committee.
picked, it is impossibly m inor infraction which Warsaw? In the words of
Semitism in order to gain As a result of this special heart-to-heart talk, Israeli emis-
bitter because it is grown ca ught his attention. Will one World Jewish Con-
in the soil of the Jewish yo ur memorial pay tribute gress official, it was "un- popular approval. As part of saries in the United States discontinued their propaganda
its integrity, the leadership that Jews in America should not be so sure of themselves;
bo th to my brother and the thinkable that in a place
of Solidarity challenged the that they should remember what happened to the Jews in
Three million Jews — m an who mercilessly tram-
anti-Semitic canards and
almost 90 percent of pre- pl ed him and crushed his blood, there should not expressed solidarity with Germany who also thought that "it cannot happen here."
The purpose of this propaganda was to stimulate American
be Jews to bear witness Jews.
war Polish Jewry — were h e ad — together?"
Jews to think of emigration to Israel.
and recite Kadish."
killed in the Holocaust. Po-
Of course, there were
In seeking to reopen the relationship between the
The unique integrity of
On the other hand, Jews
land lost almost as many Po les who hid Jews and who
did not want the dead to be Solidarity as a genui ne American Jewish community and the community in Israel,
Gentile dead in the course of ga ye or risked their lives to
exploited to legitimate an and universal liberati on an Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations was es-
the cruel occupation of Po- re
land to - hunger, persecution na scue Jews. Unfortu- unsavory military dictator- movement showed up in tablished by the American Jewish Committee. Its director
tely, their number was
ship which had utilized that most historicall 37- is Bertram Gold, the executive vice president emeritus of
and slave labor. But the no t enough to offset Jewish
anti-Semitic appeals in its sensitive litmus test— the the AJCommittee. It has two advisory boards — one in the
memory of suffering from res entment at the wide-
attitude toward the Jew s. United States and one in Israel. The American board is
fight with Solidarity.
the same oppressor which spread hateful behavior.
Under the circu m - . composed of some 50 nationally prominent Jews, some of
should bring the two com-
To make matter
whom are not members of the AJCommittee. Its chairman
munities together often di- worse, after the wa 5 invited to attend — espe- stances, Solidarity ha
earned the right th at is Stuart Eizenstat who served as assistant for domestic
vides them instead.

there were pogroms i
The reason is obvious. Po- Poland — the mos n tested. The desire to honor Jews should stand by t he affairs to President Jimmy Carter.
The institute's advisory board in Israel is composed of a
land was seething with notorious being in Kielc t the dead and the prestige of movement in its mome nt
cross section of important Israelis. Its chairman is S. Zal-
anti-Semitism before the on July 4, 1946, when 4 e the government invitation of travail — and not go •
man Abramov, a former Knesset member. Serving as spe-
However, the Jewis
war. Too many of its of the 200 surviving Jew 2 vied with revulsion at the
citizenry were indifferent or in the town were mas 5 Jaruszelski regime. Indi- organizations' hearts we re cial consultant to the Israeli board is Mordecai Gazit, who
even pleased at the Nazi sacred. That episode sen
vidual decisions to go re- hardened by their memori es served consecutively as director general of the Prime
Minister's Office, as Israel's ambassador to France, and as
murder of the Jews. Jews the main part of the rem t flected a conclusion of "a of past "liberal" Polsi
who sought to hide were un- nants of Polish Jewr
plague on both your anti-Semitism as well as director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry.
3' houses," i.e., that "liberal" their overriding concern to
covered by the local popula- fleeing westward. And in
MAJOR ISSUES: The institute will seek ways and
tion. There are many ac- 1956 and 1967, there wer
Poles historically were not commemorate the Uprisin g. means to improve understanding between American Jews
Dr. Marek Edelman,
counts of the shmaltzovniks widespread anti-Semiti e much better than the gov-
e and Israelis in a manner in which the American Jewish
of th e community might appropriately interact with Israel not
who hung around the walls purges of the last pathe c ernment when it came to sole surviving leader of
of the Ghetto to trap fleeing tic, overwhelmingly as - Jews — so why pass up hon- Ghetto Uprising still livin g only in times of crisis but day by day. The institute plans to
Jews and/or to blackmail similated Communis - oring the Jewish fighters for in Poland, issued a stat e- consider the following areas — among others — for-study:
them before turning them Jews from Polish public t the sake of the Polish oppo- ment opposing participa -
• The question of dissent within Israel; within Ameri-
tion. "To celebrate our an - can Jewry — how and when may it be manifested.
life — testimony to the
(Schmaltz — a term for ongoing power of anti-
The dividing line came niversary here, where . . -
• Do American Jews have a right, an obligation, to
the fat of an animal — Semitism in the popula-
over the relative weight words and gestures have be - speak out on Israel's foreign policy? Does the Israeli gov-
suggests how the extor- tion
given to solidarity with Sol- come lies . . . would betra y ernment have an obligation to invite counsel — in addition
tionists would squeeze out
idarity and the democratic the spirit of our struggl e to support — from American Jews?
espite its fierce resent- struggle versus treating the
." he said. However, th e
the goods and money — the
• Religious pluralism in Israel; its significance for Is-
fat — from the Jews at- men t at the Nazi oppression commemorative issue as an Jewish organizations mad e rael and for American Jewry.
a judgment call — puttin g
end unto itself.
tempting to escape before
• Implications for American Jewry and Israel of grow-
and its determination that
they betrayed them.)
The Workmen's Circle, the commemoration and th e ing antagonism between "religious" and "secular" ele-
thos e dead not be forgotten,
Polish government invita
Even the Poles who the Polish government continuer of the pre-war tion above Solidarity — - ments in Israel.
• Which of Israel's domestic issues impact upon
were sent to Auschwitz drag ged its feet on com-
tradition, and the Jewish they stayed.
American Jews? How can the decision-making process re-
The Jewish representa - garding those issues which concern both communities be
tives took a chance — and improved?
lost. The PLO in Warsaw
• How should the American Jewish community relate
seeking to exploit the
to the estimated 500,000 Israelis living in the U.S.?
Holocaust to stigmatize Is-
• Given the demographic and cultural trends in
rael and Zionism as the op- America and Israel, what common bonds of community can
pressors, announced that its we expect to see a generation hence?
representatives would place
Other studies of current issues of mutual concern to
a wreath at the Ghetto Israel and American Jews are part of the institute's
memorial. The Jewish dele-
agenda, with a view to formulating recommendations for
gations objected. Alexander action. The institute will recommend appropriate courses
Schindler, head of the of action for American Jewish organizations.

`Between You
. . . and Me

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