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November 22, 1985 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-11-22

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

46

Friday, November 22, 1985 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

STERLING SILVER FLATWARE AT REAL SAVINGS

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BRAND NAME SALE

Sale Includes All
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-4p4sri



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o

Mormons In Israel:
Testing The Tolerance

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ells"

Sisterhood of Mat Shalom Synagogue

presents

GALA ART AUCTION

Sunday, Dec. 8, 1985
Preview 7-8 pm
Auction 8 pm

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29901 Middlebelt Road
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Tickets also available at the door

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Our Regular Hours: Mon. thru Sat. 10 to 6
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354-4650

BY CARL ALPERT
Special to The Jewish News

Haifa — On a recent visit to
Jerusalem there were two
events of some significance.
They were completely different
from each other in tone and at-
mospehre, yet there was a con-
necting 'ink. Both dealt, directly
or indirectly with the same vital
issues — yet neither was given
much attention in the local
press.
One event was the colorful
Christian celebration of the
Feast of Tabernacles, under the
auspices of the Christian Em-
bassy in Jerusalem. Some 5,000
Christians, from more than 40
countries, assembled in the capi-
tal for a week of religious fes-
tivities, the highlight of which
was an outdoor program at the
Sultan's Pool, an amphitheater
just outside the walls of the Old
City, and below the Tower of
David.
The spirit was one of complete
and utter identification with Is-
rael in all its problems,. in-
tertwined with an evangelical
Christian fervor. Hebrew songs,
patriotic Zionist banners and
slogans, speeches. endorsing na-
tional policies of Israel, all left
no doubt that these people are
loyal true friends of the country.
Yet, as the words of welcome
to the Israeli guests pointed out,
this was essentially a program
for Christians, and it therefore
had a Christian content. It is
this content in all the organiza-
tion's activities which had in-
vited the charge that it is a
front for missionary activity.
Hymns to Jesus and an
evangelistic atmosphere made it
quite clear that this was not a
Jewish organization, albeit
Zionist to the core.
Instructions issued to the
5,000 visitors from abroad were
quite explicit with regard to
their contacts with Israelis:
"Please do not leave tracts or at-
tempt to proselytize. This can
cause great offense."
The official attitude of the
government was perhaps indi-
cated by the fact that Prime
Minister Shimon Peres appeared
and addressed the gathering. He
was given a warm welcome.
With it all, we were left with
mixed feelings of gratification
for this international support,
and strangeness in the exalta-
tion of the evangelical atmos-
phere.
The
second
event in
Jerusalem was billed as a
"Great Debate" series, and it
dealt with the question: Is the
Mormon Center good or bad for
the Jews?" Brigham Young
University is now building a
branch on Mount Scopus
alongside the Hebrew Univer-
sity, and there have been
charges that it will become a
center of Mormon proselytizing
activity.

In the debate, Yosef Goell, of
the Jerusalem Post, gaVe a
low-key reasoned exposition of
the case that Jerusalem must be
an open city — open to all
faiths. Any attempt to deny a

presence there to any religious
group would adversely affect Is-
rael's reputation. So long as the
Mormons obeyed the laws, he
said, they should be welcomed
here. Jews should have suffi-
cient confidence in themselves
to be able to reject all mission-
ary efforts. He was supported by
the director of the Mormon Cen-
ter, speaking from the floor, who
noted that his church had given
its pledge, both oral and writ-
ten, that the school would be
only a center for education to its
own youth brought here from
abroad, and would not engage in
missionary work.
. The assault on the Mormons
came from the other member of
the panel, Yehuda Schwartz,
editor of the Jewish Press, in
New York, a religious-oriented
publication which has long had
an association with Rabbi Meir
Kahane. The case against mis-
sionary activity can be pre-

The case against
missionary activity
can be presented
effectively and
logically, but
Sch wartz's frenzied
and hysterical
onslaught departed
from all norms of
public debate.

sented effectively and logically,
but Schwartz's frenzied and hys-
terical onslaught departed from
all norms of public debate. Some
members of the audience who
opposed the Mormon Center
nevertheless took pains to dis-
sociate themselves from
Schwartz's ill-tempered ranting.
Whatever evidence he may have
had with regard to the true in-
tentions of the Mormons was
lost in the turbulent outpouring
of insult and invective.
A relatively large number of
impassioned and intolerant
young people however, noisily
identified with Schwartz. The
atmosphere took on the "lynch"
aspects of what has come to be
known as `Kahanism."
Two meetings in Jerusalem:
the shadow of the threat of mis-
sionary activity hung over each,
as well as question about Is-
rael's ability to accomodate to
the presence of non-Jews in the
holy city. The gathering of
thousands at the Sultan's Pool
was a demonstation of good will
support for Israel. The debate,
on the other hand, was turned
into an exhibition of intolerance
in the worst of taste.

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