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April 19, 1985 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-04-19

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

12

Friday, April 19, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

PURELY COMMENTARY

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111

Reagan Addendum

• Continued from Page 2

added, "I was informed by David
Niles, F.D.R.'s chief secretary and
a Jew, that Roosevelt would not
make a speech or issue a statement
denouncing the Hitler extermina-
tion of the Jews."
It has taken forty years to un-
ravel and uncover the truth that
President Roosevelt deliberately
ignored making any statement
against the brutal murder of the
European Jews — six million men,
women and children and the two
million slaughtered by Stalin in the
Soviet Union and in the Captive
Nations. I admit the failure of
Roosevelt and his foreign office to
support my resolution, which
would have exposed to the whole
world, including Germany, Au-
stria, Italy and Hungary, the exist-
ence of the terrible Extermination
death of the Jews in Europe as the
final and definite policy of Hitler.
It is about time the American
people and the rest of the civilized
world knew the truth that
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
refused to lift his finger to stop this
savage bloodthirsty extermination
of over half the Jews in the world.
It seems very strange to me as its
been on my conscience for all these
years, that our New York State
Governor Cuomo should attack
President Reagan on the
Holocaust issue who is doing ev-
erything in his power at the pre-
sent time to bring about peace in
the world and to provide against a
holocaust of nuclear weapons
from the godless Communists. It
seems very stange that a Demo-
cratic Governor from the state of
New York should make an unfair
and partisan attack on a President
who has often referred to the hor-
rors of the Jewish Holocaust 40
years ago. But (Governor Cuomo)
remains silent in ignoring the fact
that his great idol, F.D.R., refused
to open his mouth or to utter one
word to prevent the death of six
million Jews under Hitler's final
Extermination Policy.

Hamilton Fish merits being heard.
With Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot
Lodge, he co-authored the Palestine Reso-
lution supporting Zionism, which was
signed by President Warren Gamliel Hard-
ing.
Nevertheless, it must be emphasized
that what is involved in the Reagan-
Dachau matter is a basic principle. Adher-
ence to the obligation to keep remembering
and therefore constantly emphasizing un-
interrupted of condemnation of what had
occurred as represented in the Holocaust is
in evidence in Germany. Officially, at
least, the West German government keeps
adhering to the Never Forget and Keep
Remembering attitudes.
Even if President Reagan does now
alter his original decision on Dachau, the
criticism of it can not be ignored and some
of the explanatory statements must be
judged seriously. Among them is an edito-
rial in the Christian Century (April 10)
editorial, signed by James M. Wall, which
reviewed the President's March 21 press
conference and which contained the follow-
ing:

In response to a question
about why he had turned down an
invitation to visit a Nazi concentra-
tion camp site when he visits Ger-
many in May, a trip designed to
commemorate V-E Day, Reagan
initially gave what was probably

his planned answer, albeit in gar-
bled form.
Instead of reawakening the
memories and passions of the time,
he said he wanted to observe "this
day as the day when, 40 years ago
peace began and friendship, be-
cause we now find ourselves allied
and friends of the countries that
we once fought against, and that
we — it'd be almost a celebration of
the end of an era and the coming
into what has now been some 40
years of peace for us."
This was the White House posi-
tion, developed no doubt after dip-
lomatic discussions with West
German officials. As far as it went,
the response ignored the harsh
criticism Reagan has received
from Jewish leaders,_ along with
many others, who feel strongly
that one way to avoid a future
Holocaust is publicly to remember
what happened at places like
Dachau. The Anti-Defamation
League is one of the organizations
that have urged the president to
transcend diplomatic niceties and
focus world attention on the
Holocaust.
But as his rehearsed response
indicated, Mr. Reagan had decided
against the visit. So far, so good, his
advisers must have felt. But the
President didn't stop with his skill-
ful evasion. He added this histori-
cal review:
"And I felt that, since the Ger-
man people have very few alive
that remember even the war, and
certainly none of them who were
adults and participating in any
way, ... they have a feeling and a
guilt feeling that's been imposed
upon them. And I just think it's un-
necessary."
When I read that quotation to a
friend who works with a Jewish
agency in New York, she was agh-
ast. "I'm going to vomit," she said.
"Very few alive" adults who re-
member the war? Is there no one
alive in Germany today over the
age of 45? Unnecessary guilt im-
posed? I spent ten days in West Be-
rlin recently. Berliners were
attending a film retrospective ti-
tled "Forty Years Later," and
many of the films explored the
burden of guilt felt — not exter-
nally imposed on them — by Ger-
mans of both East and West.
Did the press question
Reagan's revised version of his-
tory? The follow-up query won-
dered if the West German govern-
ment had influenced his decision.
That softball was followed by a
question about Republican poli-
tics.
One shudders to consider how
such an observation on the post-
war situation and the "imposition"
of guilt about the Holocaust would
have been handled in the parlia-
ments of Great Britain, Canada or
Israel. But under the glare of tele-
vision cameras, media questioners
eager for their brief moment in the
spotlight allowed the distortion to
go unchallenged. And the next
day? Reagan's comments on West
Germany were buried in stories in
both the New York Times and
Chicago Tribune. The lead item for
those distinguished publications?
Why, the President's "high time"
remark, of course.

There is a rebuke here of Reagan's

tendency to "rewrite history." Christian
Century editorial writer James M. Wall
maintained in his comments on the
President's press conference that: "The re-
porting of that press conference was a low
point in recent American journalism. I feel
a sense of guilt for my own profession. It is
a guilt that is earned, not imposed from
outside."
Will there be a followup admission of
sinning on the Dachau question?
Such judgments, and especially
Menachem Rosensaft's, will not be read
lightly. Whether Reagan now visits a con-
centration camp or not, the error of his
judgment remains inerasable.

Augury About Women
As Cultural Giants .. .
Rejecting Mediocrity

Prof. Harry Orlinsky, the admired
Bible scholar, author, meritorious lec-
turer, had an interesting comment on the
emergence of brilliant Jewish students
from the ranks of the younger generation.
Asked by this commentator whether there
was hope for true scholarship from the in-
coming generation, he replied with an em-
phatic 'Yes." But he was _especially con-
vincing with an additional augury: he pre-
dicted that before the end of another de-
cade noteworthy leadership in Jewish
scholarly ranks will be among women. He
said they are already showing marked de-
votion, with a promise of becoming the
leaders in Jewish cultural endeavors.
Orlinsky's was an assurance that
mediocrity will not be tolerated.
What he said applied especially to the
exposing of anyone who dares pose as an
authority on the Talmud without proof of
his genuineness. This has been in evidence
by the rejection of mediocrity by the late
Prof. Saul Lieberman, and currently by
Prof. Morton Smith of Columbia Univer-
sity, and by others who insist on truth in
research, etcetera.
This leads to a consideration of the
current debate over women occupying
Jewish pulpits, and incidentally to women
in journalism. Anne Hammerman, who
until recently edited the Dayton Jewish
Chronicle, in a column she conducts under
the title "Hammered Out," discussed the
"women-as-rabbis" issue, and she entitled
it - "My Daughter, the Rabbi." Her corn-
ments are interesting, and the special
point to be viewed seriously is her warning
of the menace of mediocrity. Here briefly is
a portion of her comments:

Although the vote was in af-
firmation of women, not only are
there some professors who are
against it, but male rabbinic stu-
dents as well. One such student
who is 36 years old, father of two
and married to a lawyer, says he
stands against female ordination
in part because he values the tradi-
tional distinctions between male
and female tasks in Judaism, espe-
cially embodied in the central
place given to home and family He
further said, "We desperately need
to work out the role of women in
religious Jewish life, but women as
women, not women as men."
This same student said about
his female colleagues: "On the left
and right sides of their brains, they
are powerful people," some of the
"brightest students in the rabbini-
cal programs. I question what they
are doing, but I love studying with
them."
Admittedly, women are good
students; those committed to their
choice of profession will undoub-
tedly try a little harder than their
male counterparts — they will not
accept mediocrity and therefore it
may possibly be that the Jewish
people may find new inspiration
from the new breed of women rab -
Ms.
So, Dad, what would you say?

Harry Orlinsky surely would consider
Anne Hammerman as evidence of women's
accomplishments in Jewish cultural
ranks. She has earned a respected place in
Jewish journalism. She has always re-
jected mediocrity. That's the essence of the
quotation from her column. Blessings to all
who conduct the battle against mediocrity
in Jewish identifications.

The "Reprint Collection" and the "Guide to America-Holy Land Studies, 1620-1948" were
presented to the White House last month. At the presentation were, from left, Bernard Wax,
American Jewish Historical Society; Daniel Ross, Institute of Contemporary Jewry; Moshe
Davis, project director; Presidential assistant Marshal Breger; Tom. Moore, U.S.
Department of Education; and John Agresto, National Endowment for the Humanities.

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