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November 29, 1985 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-11-29

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

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16

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Friday, November 29, 1985 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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CLOSE-UP

The Hentoffian Way

Continued from preceding page

be right. So it followed that
Israel must be right. An emo-
tional mania had sprung up
that Israel would come tum-
bling down if you criticized it."
Hentoff attributed this to
the desperate need for many
American Jews to identify
with Israel. "A good many
Jews," he said, "don't know
why they're Jewish other than
the fact that they are Jewish.
So they express their Jewish-
ness through their support for
Israel. The thought that there
might be something wrong
with a decision of the Israeli
government that might make
it' a moral leper makes this per-
son who has all this invest-
ment in Israel scared that he,
also, will be a moral leper."
A few months after the
Israeli invasion of Lebanon,
Hentoff worte that the "most
significant result of the inva-
sion was the revelation of the
`human reality' of Lebanon. If
you bomb Palestinian camps,
it is human beings who fly
apart."
Now says Hentoff, this
aspect of the invasion was
"sadly ephemeral. The TV
shots of the invasion were
devastating, as were the books
about the kids who are now
without arms or legs. But all
that is forgotten. The most
significant thing is what Israel
did to itself. Sharon has done
more harm to Israel than even
Arafat has done. I wonder,"
smiled Hentoff, "whether he is
the most effective 'mole' that
the Arabs have. I wonder who
his master is."
Hentoff appeared to have
slightly more respect for
another Israeli who usually
makes left-wingers livid —
Meir Kahane. He seemed to
consider Kahane "provoca-
tive" in the best senese of that
word: Kahane's ideas challenge
basic assumptions. They ques-
tion several generations' worth
of political theories and legal
doctrine and Zionist human-
ism and humane Zionism.
"If you accept his basic
premise," said Hentoff, "then
the man makes sense. The
reason he drives moderate and
dovish Jewish crazy is that '
he's really putting it to them.
He's saying, 'Look, if you want
the kind of democracy you're
talking about, then given the
demographics of the Arabs in
Israel, Israel will be a bina-
tional state in time. But
change the demographics —
kick the Arabs out — and
Israel will be a more 'decent'
place."
"I sense that the racism he
espouses is not anything he
deeply feels. It's his way of
attracting attention. If he were
just talking about a Zionist
state, he wouldn't get any at-
tention. But he talks about
throwing Arabs into the sea.
Now that gets news coverage."
Hentoff ranks Kahane as a
"performer" along with an-

other racist who is touring the
country these days, Black
Muslim Minister Louis Far-
rakhan. But as a civil liber-
tarian, Hentoff is appalled at
a suggestion that the two men
be squelched. "Try that and
you are playing into their
hands."
And he is further dismayed
at moves by Jewish leaders in
"city after city where Far-
rakhan has been speaking to
get together with responsible
black leaders and daven a little
and hope the black leaders will
say some terrible things about
Farrakhan. What's it worth if

"A good many Jews

express their
Jewishness through
Israel. They fear that
if Israel becomes a
moral leper, so will
they."

you have to cajole them? And
anyway, if Jews cajole blacks
to say bad things about Far-
rakhan, he can say they do it
because of Jewish pressure."
To Hentoff, Farrakhan is
"shrewd" and Kahane is
"clever." But as a die-hard
civil libertarian, he heaps some
of his most scathing scorn
upon That Man In The White
House and his cronies. At
least, Hentoff has some re-
spect for the intelligence — if
not the morality — of someone
like Meir Kahane. He has little
respect for the folks who are
running the country. "Reagan"
he said, "hasn't the brains to
understand the briefs that his
Administration submits to the
Supreme Court. So Ed Meese
is really running that part of
the government. And Meese,"
said Hentoff, referring to
Meese's recent statement
equating being arrested with
being guilty, "is the first at-
torney general in American
history, I think, who is so
fundamentally ignorant of the
Constitution."
With Meese in the Justice
Department and Reagan in the
Oval Office, Hentoff fears for
the Bill of Rights.
He generally does, that's
true, but these days he worries
more than usual. He'splacing
his faith in the schools to
guarantee that the first ten
amendments are not crippled.
"I don't mean to slight the
basics of reading, writing and
arithmetic" he said, "but we
must remember the fourth
basic: How to think. When
kids hear about our history,
when they hear about what
makes our nation different,
they come alive. The only prob-
lem is that most teachers don't
know about it themselves."



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