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January 13, 1984 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-01-13

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64 Friday, January 13, 1984


Tu b'Shevat: The New Year of the Trees


World Zionist Press Service

JERUSALEM — The tree
provides many practical
benefits like food, shelter,
wood and enrichment of the
soil in which it grows. The
tree has also captured man's
imagination and it is there-
fore ever-present as a sym-
bol; either religious, na-
tional, literary or artistic.
For example, the image of
the family tree represents
fertility and continuity, and
in the Jewish tradition
there is no need to look past
Genesis III, where the
tree of Knowledge dis-
pells innocence, to ap-
preciate the centrality of
the tree in mankind's sym-
bolical consciousness. So
revered is the tree in
Judaism, that it even had
its own new year, Tu
b'Shevat (the 15th of
Shevat), to be marked next
Vital though the tree un-
doubtedly is, it is often
taken for granted. What
Hollywood biblical epic
would be the same without
the classic backdrop of olive
groves? In fact, some olive
trees in Israel have been
around for nearly 3,000
years and their gnarled
barks and thunderstruck
appearance seem genuinely
to suggest that they have
borne witness to many a di-
vine event.
The early Zionist ar-
chitects faced the task of
afforesting a region that
had been denuded by
centuries of imperialism
by the Ottoman Turks,
who chopped down trees
for timber and neglected
to replant. The Jewish

National Fund, (Keren
Kayemet le Yisrael),
which became the prin-
cipal agency for the af-
forestation of the Jewish
homeland, was first
influenced by the Holy
Land image of the olive
tree. The first fund it es-
tablished in 1909 was
called "The Olive. Tree
However, it soon became
clear that the area already
had its fair share of olive
trees. Few of the 150 million
trees that the JNF have
since planted in Israel have
been olives. Pine trees were
the order of the day as a
green revolution trans-
formed the hills of Galilee,
the Carmel region.and the
Judean hills around
Jerusalem. All are natural
forests except the recently
completed Yatir Forest near
Beersheva where redirected
underground sewage has
added an extra bit of re-
quired moisture to the soil.
The JNF admits that it
overplanted the pine and
many are being chopped
down for timber. At the
same time, newly planted
saplings are taken from
more diverse species includ-
ing carobs, tamarisks, blue
acacias and cypresses. The
eucalyptus has been suc-
cessfully imported from Au-
stralia and is most con-
spicuous along highways,
where lines of them shade
traffic from the summer
sun. And the exotic palm is
prevalent along all of Is-
rael's golden beaches.

The JNF has often used
the tree as a symbol. The six
million trees in the
Holocaust and Martyrs'

While the Jews were yet
wanderers in the desert,
they were commanded:
"And when ye shall come
into the Land, ye shall plant
all manner of trees." The
Psalms tell us: "Happy is
the wise and righteous man.
He shall be like a tree
planted by the streams of
water, that brings forth its
fruit in its season, and
whose leaf shall not


With such an all-
abiding love and respect
for trees as part of God's
creation, it is not surpris-
ing that one day a year
has been set aside as
Rosh Hashana le-Ilanot
— New Year of the Trees,
when it is said the trees
are judged: which to
flourish and grow tall,
A fig tree begins getting its leaves around the time and which to wither and
of Tu b'Shevat.
shrink; which to suffer
from lightning, winds
Memorial Forest in the hills
The fruitfulness of trees is
and insects, and which to
below Jerusalem recall always emphasized each Tu
withstand all danger.
those Jewish lives that the b'Shevat as youngsters are
Eyen before the state of
Nazis took. Other projects, taken from their schools to
Israel was proclaimed, an
such as American Indepen- plant some 200,000 sapl-
arboretum was established
dence Park and Canada ings. This Tu b'Shevat will
at Ilanot, near Natanya.
Park are designed to be no different.
Photographs of Ilanot taken
strengthen ties between Is-
Three species of tree have - in 1947 show it as a sandy
rael and Diaspora com-
come to symbolize the suc- waste of land, arid and de-
cess of the Zionist solate, the only vegetation
For Israel's agricul- enterprise. The orange tree,
being sparse clumps of
tural settlements, the tree seen and smelled in count- grass. Today, this beautiful
is not only a symbol of less groves, demonstrates
tree-filled institution cover-
Jewish renaissance but a the unique and flourishing ing 500 dunams (125 acres)
crucial source of income. social phenomenon of the is like the Garden of Eden.
Israel supplies all its own kibutz and moshav move-
The head of the Forestry
fruit and exports some ments. The pine, which
Division, Dr. Karschon,
$350 million worth of dominates so many hill-
notes that afforestation in
fruit each year, mainly sides, represents the Jewish
pre-state Israel had always
citrus. Groves, orchards repopulation of its ancestral been of prime importance,
and plantations abound, homeland. And the olive
because of soil conservation
with oranges, grapefruit, tree harks back to the bibli- and reclamation work. Is-
apples and bananas cal era of the Israelites, un-
rael's independence accel-
being among the more derscoring Jewish con-
erated the work.
conspicuous fruits.
Tree crowns prevent

heavy rains from washing
away the soil, and fallen
leaves form a topsoil which
absorbs the water. The roots
hold the loose soil and pre-
vent it from being swept
away. Trees also help to
create soil . . . the thicken-
ing roots crack rocks and
the side shoots grind the
stone into rock meal. Land
which has no soil for plow-
ing often becomes arable
after • a few generations of
trees have grown there.
During the month of
Shevat, nature in Israel
begins to don its spring
garb. Blood red poppies
and anemones sprout in
meadows and on hill-
sides. Cyclamens peep
shyly from rock crevices.
The almond tree —
"Shaked" — is the first
tree to open its buds and
bedeck itself with rose-
white blossoms. Birds
begin to arrive — some to
stay in Israel, others on
their way to more north-
ern countries.
The Jews were once an
agricultural people living
close to nature, and — with
the state of Israel — this is
again true. On Tu b'Shevat
we are told that the sap be-
gins to rise in the trees of
Israel. It is not a meaning-
less or archaic holiday.
The trees are living ob-
jects re-planted by pioneers
who returned to a country
that had been tragically
neglected and denuded of its
trees and shrubs. The
Jewish National Fund
encourages the visitors to
plant a tree with their own
hands in Israel, uniting
themselves lastingly with
the soil from which it grows.

Journalistic Ethics Questioned in PLO Story


National Institute
on the Holocaust

ical of the propaganda that
the New York Times passes
on as "news" "fit to print" is
a long, signed, special story
with dateline Dec. 5. The
story cites anonymous "U.S.
officials" to the effect that
the destruction of the PLO
has substantially weakened
American intelligence -
gathering. in the Middle
This purported pitiable
situation is painted in such
grossly-slanted assertions
as these: "United States dip-
lomatic and military opera-
tions in the Middle East
have suffered . . . The CIA
was unable to replace the
intelligence network . . . a
major intelligence loss .. .
the combination of losses

. . . everything from policy
development to specific
military actions has suf-
fered . . . communications
became more difficult when
the PLO was broken up .. .
the safety of Americans was
most directly affected .. .
The United States felt the
absence of PLO sources,
which might have helped
gauge the strength and ac-
curacy of Syrian antiair-
craft batteries . . ."

The statement is made
that the PLO fighters "pro-
vided the real security for
the American Embassy in
Beirut . . . by restraining
other groups from attacking
Americans . ." And so
forth. And so on. The cen-
terpiece is the regret that
"PLO guerillas left Beirut
in August 1982 after the Is-
raeli invasion of Lebanon.
"Guerillas" they were

not: guerillas are one
specie of freedom-
fighters. They were ter-
rorists, finally trapped
into dealing with an op-
ponent better equipped
than school children,
women shoppers and un-
armed athletes.
The IDF action in Leba-
non was not an invasion: it
was a police action, in a
jungle which had had no
Lebanese government
authority for seven years.
But a newspaper which
cannot distinguish between
terrorists and freedom-
fighters can hardly be ex-
pected to comprehend issues
as subtle as national sover-
eignty and its qualities!

In all of this propaganda
piece there is not one pri-
mary source. As for factual
value, it has the same value
as "Alice in Wonderland."

Yet the New York Times
makes it a major feature,
beginning on Page 1. If
there is any truth in the
story at all, it reveals CIA
actions which are 180-
degrees opposite to the
stated policy of the U.S.
government. Legally, no
government agency is free
to deal with the PLO ter-
There is the possibility, of
course, - that this prop-
aganda piece is a "black"
item — planted to further
discredit Arafat in the eyes
of his Russian and Arab
League sponsors.
If we assume the story
contains some grains of
fact along with a large
volume of propaganda
chaff, then let this be
said: let the CIA work
with the Israeli Mossad.
The Mossad, with much
less money and far
greater professional
competence than the
CIA, has forgotten more
about combatting ter-
rorism than the CIA has
ever known.
And while negotiations
are going on, let the agree-
ment be reached too that in
case of need American sol-
iders will be rushed to excel-

lent Israeli hospitals, rather
than sent over a great dis-
tance, at grave risk and
foolish waste, as was done
after the bombing of the Be-
irut Marine base.
about the politics back of
the feature story might be
fascinating, almost as in-
teresting as trying to
fathom why a supposedly
responsible newspaper
would print it in the first
place. But the key question
is the state of journalistic
ethics, so we turn to the sec-
ond issue.
One of the major lessons
of the Holocaust is the fact
that the coming to power of
a criminal regime like the
Nazi Third Reich depends
upon a deterioration of ethi-
cal standards in many pro-
fessional and vocational
groups. And in every field
that deterioration is meas-
ured by the triumph of
technology over wisdom and
moral commitment.
It is quite wrong to- dis-
cuss the Third Reich and
its crimes solely in terms
of its internal dynamic —
the demonic thrust of an
ideology with a terrorist
movement implementing
it. We must look also to

the conditions in the
society that made the
prostitution of the sci-
ences possible.
How were the schools and
professions infiltrated and
subverted? What was the
moral condition of the uni-
versity, that persons com-
mitted to racism and mur-
der were able to become full
professors and pass their in-
tellectual perversions on
the generations of students?
What was the ethical condi-
tion of the medical profes-
sion, that persons commit-
ted to the justification of
murder, and finally to its
execution wholesale, were
able to remain members of
medical societies in good
What was the situation in
the legal profession, which
supplied hundreds of
bureaucrats who served the
Weimar Republic and Third
Reich which the same at-
tention to precedents and
carbon copies? What was
the ,education of the
teachers, who poured forth
upon the tender minds and
spirits given them in cus-
tody the poisonous dogmas
of the Nazi ideology?
Where was the discipline
of the Christian churches?

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