'2 `Friday, F6lirtiary 10, 1984
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
An Aggravated Debate Over Anti-Zionism Judged
as Anti-Semitism, With the Late Charles de Gaulle
Brought to Witness Stand in Don Cook's Biography
Charles de Gaulle in Judgment
Dock . The Problem of
Long before the vicious incredulity of the United Na-
tions submissiveness to the libelous accusation that
Zionism was racism, many were judged as anti-Semites
when they attacked Israel and Zionism.
Jewish experience compels treating the subject as de-
batable — because there were and there still are Jews who
are antagonistic to Israel and are anti-Zionist. Their de-.
fense is their congregational interest, and they contend
that Jews are only a religious element, and they therefore
act as a force to oppose anything that relates to the political,
which also means the universal, the international, the
global effects on Jews and Jewry.
That is why Stephen S. Wise, in the mid-1920s and for
a time thereafter treated such antagonists as "Jewish
In the record of Dr. Wise's sermons in the Free Syna-
gogue he organized in New York, there are several titles
relating to his damnation of the "Jewish anti-Semites."
This does not eliminate from consideration the non-
Jews who stigmatize Zionism and Israel, in the United
Nations, in the press, wherever they acquire a platform.
Therefore the opportunity, and also the timeliness, to
welcome to the witness stand the historically famous
Charles de Gaulle.
De Gaulle is called to the witness stand in the
framework of the excellent biography of the French leader
by Don Cook, the currently issued volume entitled simply
"Charles de Gaulle" (Putnam).
Cook reports on the press conference De Gaulle con-
ducted on Nov. 27, 1967. Cook states that the remarks
which burned most deeply and lasted longer from that press
conference were the pronouncements that General de
Gaulle volunteered about the Jews. It was his first press
conference since the Six-Day War, and naturally he used
the occasion to defend his condemnation of Israel." Cook
then quotes de Gaulle's statement:
One might ask oneself, in fact, and even many
Jews do ask, whether the establishment of this
community on territories acquired by more or
less justifiable means, and in the midst of the Arab
peoples who were fundamentally hostile, would
not involve innumerable and interminable causes
of friction and conflict .. .
Some have even wondered whether the Jews,
who in the dispersion remained what they have
always been, an elite people, self-confident and
domineering (italics added), would not, when once
reunited, transform the vaulting ambition of a
conqueror into the hopes which they so movingly
cherished for 19 centuries: Next year in
Jerusalem .. .
Despite the wave, sometimes rising, some-
times falling, of provoked, or more exactly
inspired, by the Jews in certain countries and
certain periods, they accumulated a certain bal-
ance of interest, even of sympathy, in their favor,
especially, it goes without saying, in Chris-
Cook makes a personal comment on the de Gaulle
declaration, asking whether the French chief of state was
introducing antitSemitism with his comments. Cook posed
the question thus:
It is quite possible that coming from anyone
but President de Gaulle, the description of the
Jews as "an elite people, self-confident and
domineering" would be taken on the whole as
complimentary, if a little barbed. But from de
Gaulle, on top of his actions in the Six-Day War, it
suddenly posed a painful question: Was the
French president opening the floodgates of anti-
Semitism in France?
What Cook also does at this point is to revive an inter-
est in the sensational exchange of correspondence between
David Ben-Gurion and Charles de Gaulle. The Israel leader
United Nations it became so. In the main, most enemies o"
Israel emerged as anti-Semites in the international arena.
Not to be ignored is the truth that there are anti-
Israelis in Jewish ranks. Some of them also can be judged as
In the 1920s and 1930s when Jews were antagonistic to
Jewish hopes and Zionist aspirations, Dr. Stephen S. Wise
condemned them as anti-Semitic.
`Sermon on the Stump':
How Many Politicians
CHARLES DE GAULLE
appealed to the Frenchman — they had been friends until
that point — and de Gaulle's response was an additional
expression of bitterness.
Cook thus refers to that important incident in history:
David Ben-Gurion, full of anxiety and de-
spair, wrote a fourteen-page letter to de Gaulle.
He got a stiff reply, rebuking Israel once again for
"disregarding the warnings given at the proper
time by the French Republic" against going to
war, and declaring: "There was nothing offensive
in underlining the character, thanks to which this
strong people had been able to remain themselves
after 19 centuries spent in unheard of conditions."
If there. was any doubt that de Gaulle may have been
misinterpreted, Don Cook refers to a statement by a famous
Jewish historian definitively leveling the accusation of
anti-Semitism at de Gaulle. The reference is to Raymond
Aron who is thus listed in the Encyclopedia Judaica:
ARON, RAYMOND (1905- ), French
sociologist and writer. Aron, who was born in
Paris, taught at LeHavre, Toulouse, Cologne and
Berlin. In 1956 he was appointed professor of
sociology at the Sorbonne, and director of studies
at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris
During World War II he was editor of Free
France — La France Libre, published in London.
Although not involved in Jewish affairs, Aron
remained a conscious Jew. Ina series of essays
published as "De Gaulle, Israel and the Jews"
(1969), he concluded that even if the French
president was not himself an anti-Semite, his
notorious press conference after the Six-Day War
certainly encouraged the anti-Jewish elements in
Turning again to Don Cook in the text of his "Charles
de Gaulle" biography, here is his quotation from Raymond
Raymond Aron, France's most noted political
commentator of the postwar era, next responded
(to the Ben-Gurion - de Gaulle dispute) with a slim
little book entitled "The General and the Jews."
"I defy any man of good faith (Aron wrote) to
contradict me when I say that General de Gaulle
could not possibly have not foreseen the emo-
tional reactions which he provoked. The Jews of
France (or rather of the entire world) immediately
realized the historic significance of the words
pronounced by the President of the French Re-
public. The anti-Semites received from the head
of the state the official authority to speak again in
the same language as before the great massacre.
State-approved anti-Semitism at one blow be-
came salonfahig, as the Germans say. What has
been said cannot be unsaid. But tomorrow either
explanation or silence will establish the ultimate
meaning of the few words which, in part at least,
will define the last stage of Gaullism."
Don Cook concludes his analyses of the de Gaulle posi-
tion on Jews by defending the French leader against the
charge of anti-Semitism. He nevertheless accuses him of
To accuse General de Gaulle of deliberate
anti-Semitism would be far-fetched, totally out of
keeping with his own integrity, intelligence and
honor, and his sense of honor of the French na-
tion. His own father set this example for him by
defending Dreyfus when the whole nation was
aroused at the turn of the century. De Gaulle was
not anti-Semitic — but he certainly was insensi-
tive in this as in so many other matters.
It is safe to assert that insensitivity can contribute to
guilt, and in this instance to anti-Semitism. David Ben-
Gurion did not go that far. Subsequent events lend them-
selves to such assignations.
The entire subject lends itself to extensive study and
testing. Not every anti-Israeli is an anti-Semite. In the
When the President likened opening prayers at the
U.S. Senate to the school room and proposed a lesson in
sanctity, there must have been puzzlement: will any of the
candidates for political positions have the guts to discuss
the "Separation Principle," and will someone perhaps pro-
pose, in accord with the Reagan policies, to reduce a small
part of the deficit by abandoning the expense of financing
chaplains for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Repre-
Then the President made further approaches tc,-
Church, apparently as a platform plank on his stumping for
re-election to the Presidency, and the New York Times had
the guts to comment under the heading "Sermon on the
Stump" (leading editorial, Feb. 3, 1984):
Who recently spoke these comforting words:
"If the Lord is our light, our strength and our
salvation, whom shall we fear, of whom shall we be
afraid? No matter where we live, we have a promise
that can make all the difference — a promise from
Jesus to soothe our sorrows, heal our hearts and drive
away our fears. He promised there will never be a dark
night that does not end. Our weeping may endure for a
night, but joy cometh in the morning. He promised if
our hearts are true, His love will be sure as sunlight.
And by dying for us, Jesus showed how far our love
should be ready to go: all the way."
An eloquent preacher like the Rev. Billy
Graham? The Rev. Jerry Falwell? No. Ronald Re-
agan, the President of a nation whose Bill of
Rights enjoins government from establishing
religion, aiding one religion, even aiding all reli-
gions. He gave that televised sermon not while
worshiping in his church but in a Washington
hotel his first Campaign stop, to a convention of
You don't have to be a secular humanist to
take offense at the display of what, in America,
should be private piety. The devoutest Christians,
who warmly respond to those words, have a
higher stake in not having them used for partisan
gain. That stake is the separation of church from
Americans ask piety in Presidents, not dis-
plays of religious preference. Mr. Reagan uttered
not just an ecumenical summons to the spirit. He
was pandering to the Christian right that helped
to propel his national political career.
The President went astray in the substance of
his remarks as well. He compared the fight
against abortion to the struggle against slavery.
But the bondage in the modern instance was the
law's refusal to let women decide whether or not
to bear a child — until the Supreme Court read
this basic liberty into the Constitution.
And no Presidential preachments can turn
prayer in the public schools into a "voluntary
act." Mr. Reagan asked, in his State of the Union
address, why kids couldn't pray in school when
Congress hires chaplains to lead a prayer to start
each session. The answer, also given by the Sup-
reme Court, is the obvious one that children are
required to attend school and are vulnerable to
the pressure of peers and teachers.
It's small consolation that President Reagan
has given his evangelical supporters more talk
than action. Actually, he has spent little capital to
move the abortion and prayer measures he es-
pouses. His recent streak of religiosity may also
have been intended to console some Protestants
who heatedly objected to formal diplomatic ties
with the Vatican.
But as preaching proves, words matter. It's an
offense to Americans of every denomination, or
no denomination, when a President speaks that
The report on the Presidential approach to the pulpit,
which could, as it should, be judged as an assault on the
"Separation" ideal in the American tradition, called atten- -
tion to the newest large-scale political development. Per-
haps the NYTimes "Sermon on the Stump" will be a nail in
the coffin where the measures proposed by the President
should be buried.