Friday, May 11, 1984
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Leon Uris novel damages
An assumption that any novel by Leon Uris, who at-
tained so much success with hisExodus which had a record
distribution of millions of copies, now demands the warning
that the theme of his new book is not in the Jewish spirit of
goodwill. Reviewing the book in the Baltimore Jewish
Times, Robert St. John expressed shock over the- venom
that filled the novel.
What St. John wrote to call attention to the outrage-
ously venomous statements in Uris' Haj was a companion
endorsement of similar disgust expressed in a review in the
New York Times by Evan Hunter.
St. John recalls a comment by David Ben-Gurion about
Uris' Exodus: "Never did such a badly-written book do so
much good." Then St. John proceeded to indicate the harm
that can come from Haj:
Now, 26 years
and seven books la-
ter, Leon Uris has
come out with Haj,
566 pages of smut,
- ousness, vulgarities,
distorted history and
Haj is about the
Arabs in Tabah, a
small village near
Hebron. The .action
takes place between
1924 and 1956.
Uris' Arabs are
dirty, evil-smelling, evil-behaving, licentious, dis-
honest, superstitious and altogether repulsive.
The Islamic holy book, the Koran, is ridiculed
and Arab customs are treated without a whit of
The most sympathetic character in the book is
a young woman who in the last chapter confesses
to her father that she is a whore, whereupon he
has her throat cut.
Uris makes love between Arab men and
women so bestial that it takes a strong stomach to
read the explicit descriptions of love-making
which he sprinkles through the book, obviously
pandering to aficionados of pornography.
Evan Hunter in the NYTimes is similarly outraged.
He quotes Uris: "Strange, that we Jews are once again
stuck with a dirty job no one else wants. You and all your
snide friends in all the foreign offices know in your hearts
the cruelty, the evils that emanate from the Moslem
world." Added is the quotation, "We are a people living in
hate, despair and darkness," quoting a Jewish character in
Thereupon, Hunter comments:
On and on and on the bugles of Mr. Uris' ten-
dentiousness blare unmericifully. When a view is
so biased, it becomes impossible to accept even
what appears to be impeccable research on past
events. History lessons in brief are inserted into
the book at regular intervals lest we forget Mr.
Uris' overriding theme. The Arabs are a hateful
and hate-filled people and there is no chance they
will ever change. It is no wonder that by the end of
the novel, Haj Ebrahim explodes in an unspeaka-
ble act of violence that drives his son Ishmael
Vital to the attention given to a damaging book is this
comment by St. John in his review:
Likewise, this book by Uris, who will be iden-
tified as a spokesman for Israelis and perhaps for
all Jews, will also do much to poison the minds of
Arabs and cause bitterness toward a whole
The special attention thus given to Uris' Haj entails an
obligation to warn readers that what Uris wrote is not
Jewish policy or ethics. It is an outrageously despoiled
Surprisingly upsetting is the interest that is being
aroused in the book. Morris Amitay, former executive di-
rector of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
who writes a good column on politics, saw fit to refer to Haj
The fact is that the Jewish position is for amity with
Arabs, for good will, and the point is splendidly made by St.
John. That's the attitude to -be 'pursued; not Uris'.
Israel at 36: accomplishments immense, obstacles unlimited
Concerned Jewish communities are remembering Israel on her 36th anniversary. Last Monday was a
commemoration on a world scale. The knowledgeable who follow the events know that the accomplishments were
and continue to be immense. There was an enrichment on a vast historical basis. The dedicated pledge
continuity. The universities prove it. The builders of Zion attest" to it.
The great role Israel plays is shown in the aim of making the people's ethical code their democratic reality.
These aspirations are always tested — Israel always remaining under scrutiny. Therefore, the realism of an
historic experience is accompanied by a recognition of the obstacles that confront Israel and the Israelis on ITlf
fronts, the acknowledgement that the difficulties have not subsided, that they always mount, constan,
Therefore, the unending hope for a devoted unity that will continue to uphold the hands of the
builders of Zion, always adhering to the most ethical principles embodied in the Jewish legacies.
This appeals for the concerted Jewish action that is represented by unity. The unified Jewish
support for Israel is the basic means for celebrating an anniversary totaling 36 that is numerically
twice the Hebrew letter Chai and they are a pronouncement of Life. Unity for Life: that's a proper
Carl Alpert as 'Oracle,
Readers of Jewish periodical literature have a natural
interest in the authors of columns which have attained
popularity. Prominent in such ranks is the Israel Technion
leader Carl Alpert, the former vice president of the Israel
Institute of Technology in Haifa.
Alpert will be here to
confer with Technion lead-
ers on his 71st birthday
(May 12). He will surely be
applauded not only for his
labors for Israel's major
technical facility but also
for the columns he has been
writing for nearly half-a-
century. That's where he
now merits special mention.
He was very young,
under 20, when he started
writing a column of ques-
tions and answers entitled
"The Oracle," for English-
Jewish newspapers — the
few then in existence. A col-
lection of these Q-A's was
published in a small book entitled The Oracle in 1935 by the
then-functioning G.C. Manthorne Co. in Alpert's birth-
His is a record to look to with pride, as it is for this
columnist who reviewed that book nearly 50 years ago.
Carl had occasion to do lots of correcting in the answers
he then provided. There has been lots to learn, as, for
example, in the misleading answer regarding the Balfour
Question in which Jacob deHaas was given credit for hav-
ing helped write the famous and historic statement.
(Purely Commentary, The Jewish Netts, Feb. 3, 1984, pro-
vides facts regarding the role of Lord Walter Rothschild, to
whom the Balfour Declaration was addressed as "Dear
Lord Rothschild," in the framing of the Balfour Declara-
Thus, Carl Alpert, practically as a teenager, pioneered
as a columnist for the Jewish press. (That's when the
English-Jewish newspapers were referred to as Anglo-
Jewish, and this columnist aimed to correct it because
Anglo definitely implied a British locale. Now the knowl-
edgeable speak only of the English-Jewish designation for
the weekly newspapers.)
Therefore Alpert has not only gained an honorable
place in Jewish journalism but retains it through these
family functions. Her Mozartian interest won for her atten-
tion extending to musical associations in several countries,
winning for her a gold medal from the International Asso-
ciation of Mozartium.
The Jewish angle in Mozartium was traced in an arti-
cle published several years ago in World Over, one of the
most interesting children's magazines which is now, re-
According to a story written by F.R. Kraus in World
Over, Mozart had a great respect and love for Jews and
Judaism. One of his librettists, Lorenzo Da Ponte, was
Jewish. It was a casual walk with Da Ponte that was to be
mainly responsible for Mozart's interest in Jewish culture.
"Don Giovanni" was to premiere in Prague Oct. 29,
1787, and Mozart, Da Ponte and their friend Casanova
decided to stroll in the Jewish section of Prague to ease
Da Ponte, a native of Prague, sought out the Altneu
Synagogue in the section — the same synagogue where
Rabbi Low, who created the Golem, once sat. While Da
Ponte was absorbed in prayer, Mozart was absorbed in the
people and their rituals.
When services ended and the three began to leave, a
group of worshipers inquired into the men's identities.
When they were introduced to the famous Mozart, they
were awed and flattered, and unbelieving.
Mozart himself was awed, and turning to Da Ponte
said, "I am going to write a new opera, `Golem Above the
Vltava,' and you, Da Ponte, must write the libretto."
Mozart's enthusiasm did not come to fruition. His
Jewish interest nevertheless remains a matter of record
and the admiration for his creative labors is a perpetuated
mark of recognition thanks in great measure to the devo-
tions of the talented Marguerite.
The Truman legacy
It is much more than a national tribute to take into
account the centenary of the birth of Harry S. Truman.
There is an international aspect to the late President of
the United States.
In a time of crisis, when
the wounds inflicted upon
the Jewish people had not
yet even begun to heal,
Harry Truman rose to new
heights to become the first
head of a state to recognize
the rebirth of Israel.
He had the
unanimous support of the
U.S. Congress in an act that
Mozart image in Jewish
called for recognition of his-
toric justice. Yet he made
records, his advocate
his decision, and lived up to
honored on world scale
it, in spite of opposition from
his official family. His Sec-
Many of the world's famous musical geniuses had gone
retary of State, General
on record as having imbided hatreds against Jews. In a few
George Marshall, advised
instances they were vengeful when they failed to get Harry Truman
him against it. True,
Wolfgang Mozart left a different, a positive legacy. Clark Clifford directed him toward that decision. Only a
Therefore, the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the handful of his advisers approved of it.
The Truman anniversary will always be judged by the
founding of the Pro-Mozart Society of Greater Detroit
merits special attention, and tributes accorded the founder decisive actions of a man already judged among the great
of this society and its sponsor for 25 years, Marguerite United States Presidents. The recognition of Israel's state-
hood will be among the great acts of a great President, and
Kozenn Chajes, similarly earn special consideration.
It is noteworthy that Marguerite Chajes' advocacy of in this sense the 100th anniversary of his birth — May 8,
interest in Mozart extended to Vienna, where she lives half 1884 — is occasion to inspire honors for him, perpetuation
of each year, returning here for Jewish festivals and of his name, by world Jewry.