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August 02, 1985 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-08-02

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

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A Children's Tale Stresses Amicability

A children's story often carries with it
greater lessons for friendship and kindness
among people than could ever be generated
by adults.
This is the lesson taught in The Secret
Grove, a Union of American Hebrew Con-
gregations tale, in which Barbara Cohen
tells a story that leaves a sad note about
adult failures where youth succeeds.
The Secret Grove is a story that can be
read in a matter of a few minutes. It is
beautifully illustrated by Michael J. De-
raney., The setting is on the border of the
Israeli settlement of Kfar Saba and its
neighboring village of Qalqilya. Beni is the
Jewish lad, Ahmed the Arab youth from
Beni has just participated in a discus-
sion in his Kfar Saba school on the Com-
mandment "Thou shalt not steal." The
children agreed that no one would steal
from his mother, but thought "maybe an
Arab would."
Because Beth had a good soccer ball,
he was allowed by his playmates, who were
superior players, to participate in a soccer
gathe. Then,in frustration, Beni walked off
the field and settled under a tree in the
Kfar Saba orange grove, immediately next
to the Arab village of Qalqilya. Suddenly,
he noticed Ahmed approaching. They
soon drew together and started a conver-
sation. Later, the two boys from contrast-
ing areas met again.
On the second visit, Ahmed brought a
textbook' which included a photo portray-
ing an Israeli threatening an Arab woman.
As Barbara Cohen relates the story at this
In half an hour we exchanged
25 or 30 words, rushing to get in as
many as we could. We had so little
time. I said it first. "You know, I
have to go."
He nodded, "But, before, I
must show you something." He
opened the book he'd brought with
him. "This is my history book," he
said. "From school." Of course, I
couldn't read the words, but I un-
derstood the picture he was point-
ing at. It was a cartoon of an Israeli
soldier. His face was uglier than
Frankenstein's, but you knew he
was supposed to be Jewish be-
cause of the big six-pointed star on
his helmet. He held a gun with a
bayonet, and he was pointing it at
an Arab woman clutching a baby
to her breast.
"That's not true," I said. "That
picture is not true. It's a terrible
He nodded slowly.
I didn't ask him if .he would
steal money from his mother. I
knew such a question would make
him as angry as the picture had
made me.
And he didn't ask me if I would
come again. He had to sneak under
a barbed-wire fence. I had to es-
cape my sharp-eyed mother. It was
too difficult. We both knew that.
It is clear from the story that Beni and
Ahmed understood that there was a cora-
binationof untruths that divided them and
their peoples. But the story ends there with
the mere explanation that they never met
again, that Beni later participated in the
Israeli wars with the Arabs.
Why such a long quotation :from a
children's tale? Why the editorializing?
Because such a great lesson is taught in
this simply related story.. Children often
get together, but their meetings, like Be-
ni's and Ahmed's, are "secret" as in The
Secret Grove. Because adults find it dif-
ficult to cross the path of hatred and un:-
truth to be able to meet amicably and to be
good neighbors.

Often a fable, a legend, can be more
unifying than diplomacy. That's what the
UAHC book The Secret Grove by Barbara
Cohen teaches. It is a lesson well narrated
and the publishers, the UMW, merit
commendation for producing and advocat- ,
ing amicability in a children's narrative.

An Addendum: Haifa U.
Students Also Search
FOr Arab-Jewish Amity

They are few and far between, the
seekers of amity and cooperation in both
the Jewish and the Arab communities.
They exist and they are in evidence and
should be emulated.
It is in a news release from. the Uni-
versity of Haifa that the functioning of
such a group was revealed. Interestingly,
if also distressingly, the story is intro-
duced as "A Ray of Hope." Perhaps,
based on the sad developments in the
Middle East, it is a mere "ray," but out
of minute undertakings there, often de-


velop great tidings. Here is the story
emenating from Haifa University:
Sixteen students, eight Arabs and
eight Jews, are banded together under
the auspices of the university's Arab-
Jewish Center and the Dean of Students
Office. They formed an experimental
workshop to promote mutual tolerance.
Their aim is to find a common basis for
understanding between Arabs and Jews
in Israel.
Prof. Arnon Soifer, who heads the
Arab-Jewish Center at the University of
Haifa, is credited with having provided
the background for the organization of
the workshop that is in the process of
seeking and encouraging cooperative
The University of Haifa is situated in
northern Israel, a region in which more
than 60 percent of Israel's Arabs live.
Out of a student body of 6,000, some
1,200 or 20 percent are Arabs, making
the university a "living laboratory" for
Arab-Jewish relations.
While other Israeli universities,
with considerably less Arab students,

can avoid dealing with the rising tide of
extremism (both Arab and Jewish), the
University of Haifa cannot and will not
The Arab-Jewish 'Center is the only cen-
ter of its kind in the Middle East which
deals both with research and with
Arab-Jewish student relations.
In .the light of Kahanism and grow-
ing polarization between Arabs and Jews
on campus, this group of students de-
cided to take the first small step towards
coexistence by setting up the workshop.
Is it safe to assuthe that the friend-
ship and search for peace undertaken by
16 students can become a policy on a
massive basig?
The least that can be done, introduc-
tory to a striving for expansion of such
tasks, is not' to keep them secret. Let
them be known in the interest of the
craving for emulation.
But even in a children's story, like
The Secret Grove, a friendship by chil-
dren is treated in secrecy. The more
widespread the knowledge that amity is
a possibility, the better the chance to at-
tain it.

Twain's 'Concerning The Jews' Revives Serious Self

Mark Twain as an observer of the
more serious in life and as a student of
religious and social amenities left a memo
that has often been discussed in relation to
He had written an essay for Harper's
Magazine of March 1898. The continuing
interest in that article is indicated in its
having just been reprinted as a paperback
by the Running Press of Philadelphia.
Why was the 1898 article written?
What induced Mark Twain to write
the 1898 article for Harper's New Maga-
zine, as it was called then? At the outset he
stated that it was inspired by a letter ad-
dressed to him regarding an earlier article
he had written in which he gave an
eyewitness account "of the outlandish par-
liamentary fracas that nearly spelled the
end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire," as
the introduction to the new paperback ex-
plains. That essay dealt with the language
question and other issues and had a
specific reference to Jews and their plight
at.the time the article was written.
The issue was over the aim to replace
German with the Czech language as the
offical tongue of Bohemia.
The storm that 'arose resulted in a
riotous situation. The populace was in-
furiated and there were street scenes
whiCh drew this description in the Mark
TWain article: .
"Some of the results of this
wild freak followed instantly,"
Twain concluded "... There was a
popular outbreak or, two in Vie-
nna. There were three or four days
of furious rioting in Prague, fol-
lowed by the establishing there of
martial law. The Jews and Ger-
mans were harried and plundered,
and their houses destroyed. ; In
other Bohemian towns there Was
rioting — in some cases..the Ger-
mane being, the rioter's in :Others
the Czechs •-•-- and in
Jew had to roast, no mattiO411ich,
side he was on."
This background historital data tlarids..
. importance, to the reprinting e the Mark
Twain atisay as a new paperback! It pro-
videi.emPhasis to Twain's revideien to the
anti-Semitism that was ramp_ant in his
7 ;5.
time. ,
It wag on the question of anti-
. Semitis0 that he wrote in Odh#raing the




Is it presumable that the eye of

. Mark Twain:
Pinpointing an attitude.

Egypt was upon Joseph, the
foreign Jew, all this time? I think it
likely. Was it friendly? We must
doubt it. Was Joseph establishing a
character for his race which would
survive long in Egypt? And in time,
would his name come to be famil-
iarlyused to express that char-
acter — like Shylock's? It is hardly
to be doubted. Let us remember
that this was centuries before the'


I wish to come down eighteen
hundred years later and refer to a
remark made by one of the Latin
historians. I read it in a translation
many years ago, and it comes back
to me now with force: It was allud-
•ing to a time when people were still
living who could have seen the
Savior in the flesh. Christianity
was so new that the people of Rome
had hardly heard of it, and had but
confused notions of what it was.
The substance• of the remark was
this: Some'Christians were perse-
cuted in Rome through error; they
being " mistaken for Jews."
•The meaning seems plain.
These pagans had nothing against
Christians, but they were quite •
ready to persecute Jews. For some

reason or other, they hated a Jew
before they even knew what a
Christian was. May I not assume,
then, that the persecution of Jews
is a thing which antedates Chris-
tianity and not born of Chris-
tianity? I think so. What was the
origin of that feeling?
When I was a boy in the back
settlements of the Mississippi Val-
ley where a gracious and beautiful
Sunday-school simplicity and un-
practicality prevailed, the "Yan-
kee" (citizen of the New England
states) was hated with a splendid
energy. But religion had nothing to
do with it. In a trade, the Yankee
was held to be about five times the
match of the Westerner. His
shrewdness, his insight, his judg-
ment, his knowledge, his
enterprise, and his formidable
cleverness in applying these forces
were frankly confessed, and most
competently cursed.
In the Cotton States, after the
war, the simple and ignorant Neg-
roes made the crops for the white
planter on shares. The Jew came
down in force, set up shop on the
plantation, supplied all the Negro's
wants on credit, and at the end of
the season Was proprietor of the
Negro's share of the present crop
and of part of the share of his next
one. Before long, the whites de-
tested the Jew, and it is doubtful if
the Negro loved him.
The Jew is being legislated out
of Russia. The reason is not con-
cealed. The movement was insti-
tuted because the Christian peas-
ant and villager stood no chance
against his commercial abilities.
He was always ready to lend
money on a crop and sell vodka
and other•ecessities of life on cre-
dit while the crop was growing.
When settlement day came, he
owned the crop; and next year or
year after, he owned Old farm, like
In the ' dull and ignorant
England of John's time, everybody
got into debt to the Jew. He
gathered all lucrative enterprises
into his hands; he was the king of
commerce; he was ready to be


Continued on Page 63

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