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September 09, 1983 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-09-09

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

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

12 Friday, September 9, 1983

The World Council of Churches Israel and Holocaust

,

.

from Near East Report

The World Council of
Churches believes that the
memory of the Holocaust
produces an inordinate

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amount of support for the
state of Israel.
In a resolution issued at
the World Council's Sixth
Assembly meeting in Van-
couver, British Columbia,
the council asserted that
guilt over the murder of six
million Jews has "often led
to uncritical support of the
state of Israel . . . ignoring
the Palestinian people and
their rights."
The council's statement
raises a number of interest-
ing — and troubling —
questions. Least significant
is the question of where all
this "uncritical support"
has been manifested.

In Israel's 35-year his-
tory it has been much
criticized, much at-
tacked, • and much
maligned. There has been
fair criticism and unfair
criticism. And there has
also been much praise.
_

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"Uncritical support" of Is-
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much of a factor — and cer-
tainly not in the various
churches that make up the
World Council. Anyone who
argues that. Israel gets a
free ride in Western opinion
has not looked at a news-
paper or at television in
some time.
But that is a small point.
The larger point is whether
or not the Holocaust should
affect one's attitude toward
Israel today. The fact is that
the Holocaust and Israel are
inextricably linked. The
Jewish tragedy in Europe
was produced by Nazi bar-
barism and by Jewish
homelessness.
Had Israel existed in
1942, had Jews been able to
find refuge in their ancest-
ral homeland, many hun-
dreds of thousands of
Jewish lives would have
been saved.

It is true that the
Zionist dream predated
the Holocaust by 1,900
years and that modern
political Zionism pre-
dated it by almost a cen-
tury. But it was the
Holocaust that con-
vinced the surviving
two-thirds of the Jewish
people that there was no
alternative to statehood,
no alternative to a place
where Jews could issue
passports and control
ports of entry and exit on
their own.

Those who had been skep-
tical were convinced by Au-
- schwitz, Bergen Belsen,
Dachau and Treblinka.
But Jews were not the
only ones who were con-
vinced. Leading Christians
in America and throughout
the world joined in the call
for a Jewish state. (Today,
fundamentalist' Christian
churches are strongholds of
pro-Israel feeling.)
Eleanor Roosevelt was
one of the leaders in the
pro-statehood struggle. She
spoke out after visiting a
Jewish "displaced persons"
camp in Germany in 1946.
She recalled how the sur-
vivors called out to her; how
they fell to their knees and
with outstretched arms
cried "Israel, Israel." They

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would consider no other des-
tination.

there is a finite amount of
caring and concern to go
around. To feel for one
group means somehow to
harden toward another.
Accordingly it has little
sympathy for Israel in its
struggle for survival.

Those former DPs and
hundreds of thousands of
others like them live in
Israel today. They sal-
vaged what was left of
their lives to make a
The council carries this
home in the one place
where anti-Semitic terror axiom to amazing lengths.
would be an impossibil- Its general secretary, Phil-
ity. Their children and lip Potter, is quoted as say-
grandchildren serve in ing that the council had not
the Israeli army and they, _passed a resolution express-
themselves, are able to ing sympathy for Soviet
Jews because "the Jews
live "ordinary" lives.

It is only natural. It it
only fair that awareness of
the Holocaust should
engender sympathy for the
nation that was established
as a refuge for its survivors
and which serves as a living
guarantee that it will have
no repetition.
The World Council of
Churches seems to believe
that enough is enough.
They have had it with the
Holocaust and the guilt it
inspires. If they could only
break the nexus between
the Holocaust and Israel,
then Western abandonment
of the Jewish state could
proceed at a faster rate —
and without guilt. For
them, the statute of limita-
tions on sympathy is 40
years.
But that is only a part of
the World Council's com-
plaint. It also argues that
sympathy for Israel leads to
a concurrent denial of
Palestinian rights. It as-
sumes that Jewish rights
and Palestinian rights are
mutually exclusive, that
there can be no sharing.

But it also suggests that

Soviet Role
in Mideast

Zbigniew Brzezinski,
former President Jimmy
Carter's national security
affairs adviser, made the
following comments on the
Soviet policies in the Middle
East in the current issue of
American Arab Affairs.
"The fundamental point
is that the Soviets are not
interested in a peaceful set-
tlement. The Soviets are not
genuinely interested in
promoting Arab interests
against the Israelis.
"The Soviets are in-
terested in a protracted
stalemate and the absence
of peace between the Is-
raelis and the Arabs be-
cause that radicalizes the
Arabs, it turns them toward
the Soviets.

"I think it is important
for the Arabs to realize
that the Soviet Union is
using them, but it has no
interest in advancing
Arab interests. The
Soviet Union in the Mid-
dle East has always
played the role of a
spoiler .. .

"It is therefore really up
to the Arabs, the Israelis
and the Americans if the
Arab-Israeli issue is to be
resolved. The Soviets have
never shown any capacity
— diplomatically or militar-
ily — to give the Arabs the
means for promoting their
- objectives."

have been able to look after
themselves. We have to help
those who do not have
people to look after them."
Talk may be cheap — and
sympathy may be a com-
modity that is worth very
little. But it is a commodity

that, in at least one case, the
World Council parcels out ,
with a teaspoon.

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