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March 01, 1985 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-03-01

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ri Huppert looks like a col-
lege professor, and that is one of his
titles. But Huppert, a Holocaust sur-
vivor and Jerusalem attorney, prefers
the title of "liberal."
From that perspective, Huppert is
renewing his battle with Israel's Or-
thodox religious establishment. He is
chairman of the Israeli Association
Against Religious Coercion, and dur-
ing a recent visit to Detroit he spoke to
several non-Orthodox rabbis about
democracy, Zionism, religious
pluralism and the continuing at-
tempts by the Orthodox to change the
Israeli Law of Return's definition of
"Who is a Jew."
"The Orthodox Jewish establish-
ment is causing a rift between Israel
and the West," Huppert insists, "in-
cluding Western Jewry. We are turn-
ing back from Zionism into a Jewish(-
only) community: Judenstat to Juden-
rat. (Jewish state to Jewish councils in
the Nazi ghettos.) "We are turning
into a ghetto-like Jewish community,
which will not be able to exist as a
democratic entity in the future."
During an impassioned "inter-
view" with The Jewish News in which
he lectured for an hour, Huppert in-
sisted that a democratic system is the
only one in which a Jewish state can
survive in the Middle East. He corn-
pared any future Jewish theocracy to
present-day Iran and the Crusader
kingdoms of the past.
"Religion is not the national atti-
tude of Israel," he explained. "Israel
can not survive as a strictly religious
entity. But it can survive as a Jewish
state which includes the various
Jewish elements which have de-
veloped over the centuries. The Jewish
heritage, if narrowed only to the Or-
thodox one, will exclude from Jewish
culture the richest elements which
Jewish civilization developed during
the last 300 years."
Without this pluralism, Huppert
believes, Israel will become just one
more backward state in the Middle
East. "Israel is the only nation in the
Middle East which is not only as-
similating Western culture, but is part
of it. The Arabs, on the other side, are
very fundamentalist in their theology
and xenophobic toward the West. Even
though they buy Western technology,
they can not develop it. They are am-
bivalent toward the West they need on
the one side, and undoubtedly hate on
the other side."
Israel's political system, in which
the small religious parties have held
the balance of power, may push the
country to the same kind of fundamen-
talist approach as the Arabs, Huppert



News Editor

Bob McKeown


Friday, March 1, 1985

The 'Who Is A Jew' issue has
forced Israeli civil rights advocate
Uri Huppert to renew his battles
with the religious establishment.

believes. He calls such an approach
"the failure" of the Arab nations."
In his estimation, "The Orthodox
feel that Westernization means Hel-
lenization. So the Orthodox want us to
isolate ourselves and insulate us from
Western influence . . . you understand
why Rabbi Levinger's wife said,
`Democracy is not a Jewish value.' "
Rabbi Moshe Levinger heads the
militant Gush Emunim settlement
movement in Judea and Samaria.
Huppert, an Independent Liberal
Party member of the Jerusalem city
council in the 1970s, has a private
Jerusalem law practice specializing in
civil rights. He was the head of the
League Against Religious Coercion in
Israel from 1964 to 1977, and emi-
grated to Israel from Poland in 1950.


He lectured last year at Hebrew
Union College in Cincinnati, Kent
State University and Miami (Ohio)
University. His recent visit to Detroit
was sponsored by the American Re-
form Zionist Association and he met
with Rabbis Harold Loss, Ernst Con-
rad, Lane Steinger, Robert Abramson,
David Nelson and Norman Roman. He
hopes to return in June to lecture at
area congregations.
"I am not anti-Orthodox," Hup-
pert tells his listeners. "I believe in
co-existence of all segments of Jewish
culture and religion. There must be a
balance, with the one exception that
you cannot remove a single Jew.
"We cannot narrow our biology.
We must enlarge it."
This led him into a discussion of


Orthodox and Nazi ideologies in defin-
ing who is a Jew. "It is ironic that this
segment of our Jewish brothers, who
are against abortion, are trying to
make a great abortion by putting out-
side the Jewish community the non-
Orthodox," Huppert charges. The
non-Orthodox "is the greatest segment
of Jews in the Western world . . . The
Holocaust was, historically, the most
cruel example in human history,
showing how much people suffering as
Jews need a shelter.
"If we had Israel in 1939, we
would have saved the majority of our
victims (of the Holocaust). But if we
had Israel before the Holocaust, and
the Law of Return based on the Or-
thodox view, many human beings suf-

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