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April 20, 1984 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-04-20

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

Friday, April 20, 1984

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS



"If it weren't for Linda,
1 couldn't live at home.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Jews carried in their hearts Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
These words are not even
and minds the memory and
longing for their Land of Is- meant for you but for those
rael — for Judea, Samaria in the Senate and in Parli-
and Jerusalem. It is an ament who have disgraced
abomination that Jews our country, our flag and
should become participants Humankind.
When terrorists of the
in the Arab League cam-
paign to delegitimize the FLQ murdered your people,
Jewish claim to the Land of in Montreal, you invoked
Israel by saying the ancient the War Measures Act.
When terrorists have
name of the area was
"Palestine" or by using the murdered and maimed my
Arab name of "West Bank." people, and are still doing
The. Romans are long so, their crimes have been
gone and in spite of the legitimized by an invitation
foolish ones at the Jewish to this country from the
Community Council of Met- Blairs in our Senate and
ropolitan Detroit, Palestina Parliament.
I weep for our children
is still Israel and Aelia
still murdered in Jerusalem, in
is
CapitOlina
Damascus, in Rome and in
Jerusalem.
Hyrnie Cutler Paris.
I weep for my people
Metro Detroit Chapter
Americans for a Safe Israel
locked in the icy dungeons
of the Soviet Gulags.
I weep for mankind, be-
PLO Invitation
cause the lessons of history
Editor's note: The follow- are being ignored.
ing letter was sent to the
Dr. George I. Bernstein
Windsor
Prime Minister of Canada,

/I

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Not 'Palestine'

Our Jewish Community
Council prepared and mas-
sively distributed a "Sup-
plemental Haggadah
Readings" in which it
states: "It was customary in
ancient Palestine ..."
Ray Saidel, commentator
on Middle East affairs, re-
cently explained that the
name "Palestine" came
from the Romans who in a
futile attempt to erase the
then already ancient bonds
between the Jews and their
land, changed the name of
the area to "Palestina" (af-
ter the Philistines who once
occupied a shallow area
along the coast); and, in the
year 135, after razing
Jerusalem; Israel's capital,
seeking to finally erase its
Jewish connection forever,
they renamed it "Aelia
Capitolina."
For over 18 centuries —
during the mass slaughter
they suffered in Crusades,
pogroms, inquisitions, blood
libels and the Holocaust —

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OP-ED

The thirteenth tribe

BY CARL ALPERT
Special to The Jewish News

Haifa — The ever-
growing pace of conversions
to Judaism in Israel has in
recent months served to re-
call a major conversion un-
dertaking which had been
planned by David Ben-
Gurion about 30 years ago:
a voluntary mass adoption
of Judaism by all the Be-
douins in Israel. As we look
back upon it the very idea
seems incredible, but this
was no mere pipe dream; ac-
tual details were worked
out.
Ben-Gurion was one of
those who believed that
many of the 'Arabs in the
country were actually of
Jewish descent. After the
destruction of the Temple
not all the Jews were killed
or deported. Many simply
faded away into the coun-
tryside and took on protec-
tive coloration. Thriving
Jewish communities
existed in Palestine for
centuries thereafter. There
is little doubt that when. the
Arabs invaded the country
many were converted to Is-
lam.
When he first went to live
in the Negev, Ben-Gurion
became impressed with the
Bedouins, their dignity,
their powers of endurance,
their survival ability under
desert conditions, and he
began to develop his plan fol-
returning them to Judaism.
Amos Nevo, writing-in the
daily Yediot Ahronot, spoke
to some of the people in-
volved, -and recalls the
story.
According to one version,

David Ben-Gurion
some of the Bedouin
sheikhs, envious of the help
provided by the Israel gov-
ernment to the new Jewish
settlers, felt that if they be-
came Jews perhaps they
would receive similar bene-
fits, and they sent out feel-
ers in this direction.
Whether the initiative
came from them or not,
Ben-Gurion fastened on to
the idea. If the Jews would
not come to settle the
Negev, perhaps the answer
was to transform the native
inhabitants into Jews.
On one occasion, visiting
a group of new Jewish im-
migrants from Kurdistan,
he was struck by the extent
to which they looked like
Bedouins and dressed like
Bedouins. The Kurdish
Jews had to be re-
assimilated into the body of
modern Jewish life. Why
not do the same with the
nomads of the desert?
Ben-Gurion's associates

at first humored him along,
but when he was told that
the project was probably
impossible he became, in
typical B-G style, the more
stubborn about it.
Army intelligence units
were asked to sound out the
situation. A task force was
set up to gather information
and reactions. The local
military chaplain began to
lay out details of educa-
tional facilities, a house of
worship and other physical
requirements for a large
Jewish community. It was
suggested that education of
the children be entrusted to
Youth Aliyah. The Be-
douins were to be granted
all the privileges of new
immigrants.
There was one condition
on which all agreed: no
compulsion. It must be clear
to all they would. be assum-
ing Judaism of their own
volition.
At this stage, the Chief
Chaplain of the Israel De-
fense Forces, Rabbi Shlomo
Goren, was approached. He
found precedence in Jewish
history. The Edomites had
been traditional enemies of
the Jews, but after their
conquest in the Second Cen-
tury B.C.E., they accepted
mass conversion. The Edo-
mites became exponents of a
strict Judaism, being num-
bered later among the fol-
lowers of the School of
Shammai, who favored
more rigorous enforcement
of Jewish law. Many promi-

Continued on next page

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