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August 17, 1984 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-08-17

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

PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

ZOA's honors for Fisher:
Brandeis-inspired award

Louis D. Brandeis left legacies treated as lessons,
rooted in the highest principles of legalistic wisdom based
on ethics and morality. The concerns he evidenced as a Jew,
in eras of pogroms in the years that preceded the first World
War and during the second were most calamitous. He found
comfort in Zionism and lent it great leadership.
Mr. Justice Brandeis provided guidance for the buil-
ders of Zion with his inspiration that gave American
encouragement to the eventual emergence of the reborn
state of Israel. He was among the philosophers of Zionism
and more than anyone else he deflated the fears that
Jewish loyalties could possibly conflict with American pa-
triotism. He gave credence to a realism of mutuality in
both.
Any honor involving an award bearing his name is,
therefore, something to be cherished. The Zionist Organ-
ization of America, havng gloried in the Brandeis leader-
ship, has selected through the years the most notable in
American ranks for its coveted Brandeis Award.
Max M. Fisher merits this notable acclaim, as this
year's selectee for the Brandeis Award, to be presented at
the national ZOA gathering to be held here this weekend.
His name will add glory to the roster of those already
possessing this honor.
As the world leader in
Jewish philanthropic tasks
in support of Israel, a post
he has dignified for some
two decades, he rose above
the mere charitable. He was
the creative leader whose
emphasis was on the con-
structive.
He was the man with a
vision for a creative Jewish
future, for the progressive
goals of a nation that rose
out of the horrors of mass
murders into a national
sovereignty receiving the
respect of mankind.
Max M. Fisher
His role was one of
statesmanship. That is how he continues to be welcomed in
Jewish as well as American circles.
He gave enouragement to the highest goals in Jewish
cultural endeavors. When the day school movement
pleaded for recognition, he was among the first to lend it
support and encouragement.
He knew and retains knowledge of the values of Jewish
dignity and creativity and thereby has earned the honor
now being accorded him. He is a proper selectee for the
continuity of the principles of Brandeisism, and as such has
the community's acclaim as the current recipient of the
ZOA Brandeis Award.
The function chosen to extend honors to Max Fisher
also is occasion to add to the support ZOA receives in this
community. The local Zionist movement is among the most
dynamic in the land. It carries on the traditions for Zionist
leadership established here by Rabbi A.M. Hershman,
D.W. Simons, Rabbi Morris Adler, Dora and Joseph
Ehrlich, Simon Shetzer, Rabbi Leon Fram and scores of
other notables. The continuity in such devotions is evi-
denced here this weekend and is surely an uninterrupted
identification with Zionism and Israel.

The kind of senatorial
campaign anticipated here

.

.

In the 93-degree heat of the Aug. 7 primary election, an
otherwise indifferent constituency — the proportionate
voting was so minimal — introduced what may be an even
more scorching political campaign than the weather indi-
cated in the dull atmosphere of party preferences for the
crucial November election. Michigan Republican voters
named ex-astronaut Jack Lousma to oppose Democrat Carl
Levin who is in the race for re-election. What sort of chal-
lenge and what kind of campaigning can be expected in an
already hotly-charged atmosphere.?
There were many diatribes in the weeks preceding the
primaries and both Lousma and his Republican opponent,
Jim Dunn, made it known, as was to be expected, that
beating Levin was the aim that united them. Lousma be-
came the political astronaut, flying high, far and wide,
embracing the sensationalism that is food for headline-
hunting.
In the May 20 issue of the Detroit News, he was quoted
chiding Senator Levin as being "for a strong Israel but a
weak America." The Detroit News headline read: "Lousma
says Levin is too pro-Israel." Since many people read the
headline first and often skip the story itself, the effect of the

comments can be damaging, even if the basic statement is
qualified in the story itself.
Lousma did make a personal additional assertion, that
he is for a strong Israel as well as a strong America.
It is the "more," earlier in the statement, that counts
immensely. Any labeling of a member of Congress as being
more foreign-oriented than American-spirited, can be very
damaging to a politician's career. Such an accusation is
seldom, if ever, true, and especially with regard to Israel
and the Middle East the American friendship for and with
the Jewish state is so all-embracing that an injection of
doubt is not a bit commendable.
There wasn't much fuss about Lousma's trip to Israel.
The documentation on the two nations' friendship is more
effective in Washington than in Jerusalem. Injecting
doubts is not a bit nice. Therefore the query: what sort of
U.S. Senate campaign is to be anticipated in Michigan?
Hopefully, candidates will stick to the issues affecting
American life: unemployment, the nation's schools, injec-
tion of religion into politics, the needs of the elderly, obliga-
tions to the handicapped, the scores of issues involving the
nation's military needs and its defensive programming,
building good will for America throughout the world.
The nation's needs must be treated on a high level,
with dignity, never resorting to character assassination.
Then there will be an assurance that Michigan will con-
tinue to be properly represented in the U.S. Senate.

Rowan puts journalistic
platform to serious test

Freedom of speech, the First Amendment, the ethical
codes of the journalistic media, have always been, will
always remain, either under dispute or continuous con-
demnation, and certainly everlastingly tested.
The most serious current testing was the platform that
was piovided for the sensational Louis Farrakhan by the
National Press Club. The few dissenting voices place the
matter on the agenda and the journalistic tactic involved
may be rendering a great service to the aim for highest
standards in public affairs. Farrakhan felt free to inject the
Hitler name in his anti-Semitic attacks. The president of
the National Press Club, Don R. Fogarty, defending the
invitation to Farrakhan, was quoted as saying that in the
interest of a free journalistic platform he would even grant
the right to speak to Hitler.
Then came the two protests that invited national at-
tention. Theodore H. White, the eminent authority on the
U.S. Presidency, who has written more on U.S. Presidents
than most of his contemporaries, submitted his resignation
to the National Press Club. He returned the Fourth Estate
Award he received from the club four years ago.

He said that for nearly 25 years he carried
"my membership card in the National Press Club
with pride" but was resigning over the Farrakhan
invitation.
"I resign not only because Farrakhan is so
violently anti-Semitic; nor because he recruits
armed thugs as bodyguards, as did fascists in
countries I reported abroad," Mr. White wrote. "I
do so chiefly because he has threatened with
death an honest and decent newsman, doing his
most responsible best to report accurately the
most sensitive subject that divides our nation."

White was referring to Milton Coleman, the black
Washington Post reporter who disclosed Rev. Jesse
Jackson's reference to Jews as "Bymies" and New York as
"Hymietown."

White wrote: "To dignify so vicious a man as
Farrakhan, chosen by no one, elected by no one, a
boastful man threatening a newsman with death,
is to confuse history with hype."
A most important role in the dispute is the one played

by the eminent columnist, Carl Rowan. His view on this
serious matter was expressed in13,isWashington Post-based
nationally syndicated column Aug. 6, featured under the
title "Why Give a Forum to Farrakhan?"
The Rowan essay is most impor-
tant because there have been dif-
ferences of opinion with him on the the
subject of Israel and the Jewish state's
relationships with the U.S. and the
Arabs. In his article on Farrakhan,
Rowan refers to it. It is quoted here
first as an introduction to Rowan, so
that any misunderstandings about the
noted columnist and TV commentator
should not be treated with venom.
Carl Rowan
Furthermore, Carl Rowan defines his
policy for decency and the honorable relations between
blacks and Jews. Serious attention should be given as
means of emulating his sense of justice, which elevates Carl
Rowan to high levels of journalistic decency:

I have had my share of abusive letters for

criticizing Israel's actions in Lebanon, Beirut in
particular. Such criticism has not intimidated me.
But I want no association by skin color or any-
thing else with a man who calls Israel an "unlaw-
ful" state based on "injustice, lying, thieving and
deceit." I am embarrassed to be included by im-
plication in a Farrakhan argument that the Is-
raelis are not God's chosen people because God
really has put his hand on "the black people of
America."
Sure, the people who sat in that National
Press Club luncheon snickering, groaning, jeer-
ing will say, "But we weren't blaming all blacks or
anyone but Farrakhan for his remarks."
I know better. That speech pumped new
venom into a foolish black-Jewish rift that is
costly to both groups, and pleasing to some politi-
cians who are candidates for high offices.
I have often said that the best test of a minori-
ty's progress toward equality is to see what the
majority does about the minority's fools and
scoundrels.
Every time I open a bag of mail from my syn-
dicate I am reminded of the distance black people
have to go to reach an equality beyond automatic
scapegoating. I always find several letters con-
taining torn-out newspaper stories •about some
black looters, or a rapist, or a murderer, with a
notation, usually in red ink, that I should "stop
bleating about equality until you can stop this."
I cannot wipe out crime, by blacks or anyone
else. I cannot silence Farrakhan. I cannot stop the
media from exploiting him. I can, I hope, make
some of my media colleagues understand the
damage they do in chasing down black de-
magogues and making them national figures.

Carl Rowan's "Why Give a Forum to Farrakhan?" is a:
explanatory, statement, responding to rebukes that wen
directed at him for refusing to sit at the speakers' table
when Farrakhan deliVered anc Cher of his venomou
speeches. Rowan's essay is deeply moving, fearless, a de
fiance even of his fellow-blacks, who are cheering till
hatemonger he repudiates. Writes Rowan:

When someone from the National Press Club
telephoned to ask me to sit at the head table dur-
ing Louis Farrakhan's speech last Monday, my
answer was quick and simple: "You people must
have lost your minds."
When I read items in the Washington Post and
Washington Times asserting that Jesse Jackson
would be at the head table, I shook my head in
dismay. "Where does the press dream up this
stuff'?" Jackson had asked me in stating emphati-
cally that he had never heard of this press club
function and would not attend --- as he did not.
But the "working" press was there to report
the utterances of the leader of the Nation of Islam,
and a lot of JewS attended that luncheon as if
driven by some masochistic need to hear what-
ever new insults Farrakhan could hurl at them
and Israel.
Observing all this from a 10-foot-pole dis-
tance, I was reminded how furious the late, great
Urban League leader Whitney Young used to get
over the zeal with which the American media
would publicize and exploit black fools and
scoundrels.
"Ralph Bunche (winner of the Nobel Peace
Prize) can show up in town to give an important
speech and the press will treat it like a top-secret
briefing," Young complained to me. "But if
Stokely Carmichael shows up to say something
stupid or inflammatory, you can't beat off the TV
cameramen with a stick."
So it always has been, and apparently always
will be. I asked a member of the National Press
Club what motivated the organization to give
Farrakhan a forum. "Because he's a draw. People
want to hear him. We had a sellout."
"If that's your test, why didn't you put on a
live sex show? It wouldn't have been any more
obscene than Farrakhan's bigoted remarks."
"What kind of newsman are you, Rowan?" I
was asked. "Farrakhan is news, and we're in the
news business."
Farrakhan is news? I concede that the first
time he called Judaism "a dirty religion" it was
news. But how many microphones and cameras
must be used how many times to'provoke him into
saying it again and again before his hateful sort of
bilge ceases to be news?
. I resent the media's fascination with Far-

Continued on Page 8

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