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4 Friday, August 3, 1984
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
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© 1984 by The Detroit Jewish News (US PS 275-520)
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CANDLELIGHTING AT 8:33 P.M.
VOL. LXXXV, NO. 23
Change the system
Like the weather, the subject of political reform in Israel is one that
people constantly complain about but never do anything to change. Last
week's election, though, brought about a chill wind that could lead to change.
For years political scientists have been warning that the electoral system
of proportional representation would lead to a fragmented legislature and a
paralyzed government. Now, as the two major parties have lost votes and the
small parties have gained, that has come to pass. Some 15 parties are
represented in all.
Israel's proportional system grants a seat in the Knesset to a party
winning as few as 20,000 votes, or one percent of the total cast. This was
designed to ensure that each of the many Jewish communities immigrating to
the new state would be represented. But these noble aspirations have
resulted in a worrisome reality. The fact is that fringe candidates can get one
percent support almost anywhere. Lyndon LaRouche does in the United
States. Rabbi Meir Kahane did it last week in Israel. The difference is that by
winning one percent, Kahane is now a member of the Knesset, since the
Israeli system virtually ensures extremists gaining a parliamentary seat.
Many experts feel the system is now outdated. "We have a primitive
political system," said Prof. Shlomo Aronson, a political scientist at Hebrew
University in Jerusalem. "Structurally and socially this society was bound to
produce a stalemate. We are at a crossroads." .
He and others favor the West German system, ironically enough, as a
model. It was designed to keep neo-Nazi extremists out of parliament and
requires a five percent minimum of the vote to gain a seat. In addition,
members of parliament are accountable to local constituents; in Israel's
party-list system a politician's first loyalty is to his party rather than to
Prime Minister Shamir has gone on record as favoring an increase in the
one percent minimum, but changing the law requires a majority vote in the
Knesset and that's where a Catch-22 comes in. The small parties, motivated
by self-preservation, could topple any government that attempted to change
No one said it would be easy, but last week's election results are a clear
indication that electoral reform is desperately needed.
How many Jewish mothers
needed to change a light bulb?
BY BEVERLY DAVIS
Special to The Jewish News
How many Jewish mothers does
it take to change a light bulb?
(Said with a "Jewish" inflection):
Don't worry about it; I'll sit here in the
How many JAPs does it take to
change a light bulb?
Two. One to call Daddy and one
to open a can of Tab.
A young Jewish woman
may be caring, serious
and conscientious, but if
she is even minimally
well-groomed . . . she will
be labeled as a JAP.
Chances are you've already
heard at least one of these jokes; per-
haps you've even laughed at them.
Whether or not they are funny is not
the issue. What is important is what
they imply about Jewish women. The
Jewish mother is seen as a manipula-
tive individual who gets people to do
what she wants by stimulating guilt.
The Jewish American Princess (JAP)
is depicted as lazy and self-indulgent,
a girl/woman who relies on Daddy for
everything, while reserving her .
deepest concerns for such matters as
keeping a trim waist.
It is not surprising that Jewish
women are the subject of the current
(long) wave of ethnic jokes — all
groups have been subjected to this at
one time or another. What is amazing
is the response to these of the Jewish
community. Long active in vigor-
ously opposing stereotyping of
minorities, and with an honorable
Beverly Davis is president of B'nai B'rith
Women, which will be launching a program
on this theme in mid-September.
Commitment of the Detroit Round Table of the National Conference of
Christians and Jews to a "Hate Literature .Project" emphasizes a serious
American obligation for total indictment of the evils performed by the
The very title of the projected task to expose and prevent the spread of the
banalities that undermine decencies in American society indicates the
obligation to make the crimes known and to mobilize public opinion in the
condemnation of the poisonous tactics of the insane minds.
No one is immune from the menacing developments. Even if they are as
minute as they are believed to be, it is necessary to take into account the fact
that a few can cause much damage, and many may be misled by falsehoods
spread by hand by poison painters or through the mails.
The Detroit Round Table, already havingstudied the spreading menace,
is aware that all religious elements suffer from
political views occasionally inspire venom: The tactics may commence as
anti;Catholic.or anti.Semitic or anti-black;and in;the long run all suffer.
Therefore; the entire community must give Support to the'Detroit Round
Table fide titer/Aire ProjeCt In the deterniiiistion, to eradicate stile , evil.,
and productive record of working to
reduce prejudice of all kinds in this
country, the community is strangely
silent about the jokes being made at
the expense ofJewish women. Worse,
many seem to embrace these stereot-
pyes — witness the "I am a JAP" tee-
shirts or, more painful, children
sporting the legend "JAP in train-
Like all stereotypes, those of
Jewish women are caricatures of cer-
tain traits = some good and some
negative — which, for whatever rea-
sons, are attributed to Jewish
women. Most American Jews today
trace their origins to European
shtetls, a harsh world much unlike
the singing environment of Fiddler
on the Roof. It was a world where a
man was expected to steep himself in
religious law. The woman had to be
strong, capable, loving and hard-
working; often she was the main sup-
port of the family economically as
well as spiritually. It was she who
dealt with the outside world of com-
merce and maintained a home in
which she passed down to her chil-
dren the cultural and religious prac-
tices — a turn-of-the-century
When these women came to
America -- the golden land — their
roles changed gradually. With mate-
rial success they were relieved of the
need to work outside the home and
were able to turn their considerable
energies to matters of family. The re-
sulting .image of these women was
the Yiddishe Momma, the revered
old lady of the kitchen, famous for
using food as an indication of her
love. But somewhere along the time
line something went awry. Like Dr.
Jekyll turning into Mr. Hyde, the
Yiddishe Momma became the Jewish
Mother. So, for example, the loving
concern for her children, pride in
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