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February 07, 1986 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-02-07

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

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2 Friday February 7 1986 — THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Shlichim In Dilemma,
Agency Responsibility,
`Week' In Prospect

Carl Albert

In one of his most illuminating col-
umns from Israel, which also becomes a
very challenging one to Diaspora'as well as
Israeli Jewries, Carl Alpert poses the ques-
tion of practicality in the services of the
shlichim, the emissaries from the Jewish
state to the Jewish communities.
Alpert, who is unquestionably among
the best informed correspondents to this
and many other American Jewish periodi-
cals, exposes the failures in the tackling of
the aliyah problem and, pointing bluntly to
the failures to encourage fulfillment of the
needs for increased settlement of Ameri-
can Jews ipilsrael,, assails the bureacracy
responsible for the shortcomings.
Carp Alpert reported on his efforts to
secure the factual data on Jewish Agency
responsibilities toward Aliyah and the role
of the shlichim with this indictment:
The Jewish Agency has of late
been subjected to considerable
criticism, ranging all the way from
"The Jewish Agency is just a build-
ing in Jerusalem with a bunch of
Volvos out in the front" to more
serious critiques of its financing
and actual operations.
No department of the agency is
more vulnerable to criticism be-
cause of its faulty administration
than the one which is supposed to
be devoted to encouragement of
aliyah to Israel.
Few people are more deserv-
ing of sympathy than many of the
devoted, competent and
hardworking shlichim (emissaries)
sent overseas by this department,
who fail to receive the cooperation
and backing from Jerusalem
which they require in order to do a
good job.
Ever since the flagrantly Polit-
ical a ointment of Haim Aharon
as c an of the aliyah depart-
ment 1 ere has been* steady deter-
ioraton bath in the operations and
moral* • tif the Vrtnient and in
the statistics of eh to Israel. In
the first half of 1985 immigration
from North America declined by 20
percent after a 30 percent drop in
the previous year. The decline
from Latin American was 25 per-
cent.
Yet bureaucracy reigns sup-
reme in the head office where no
less than 62 persons are engaged in
office and administrative work,
not counting those working in ul-

Two Notables Of The Last Generation

This is a "once upon a time" story
about a cherished friend and a great De-
troit personality. Recollections about him
are provided in a biography by one of his
eminent contemporaries.
The duals story of the two famous men
— Fred Butzel and Reinhold Niebuhr — is
told in a truly great story, surely among
the best biographies published in this de-
cade. Reinhold Niebuhr by Richard Fox
(Pantheon Books) is an appreciative disci-
ple's tribute to an admired teacher.
A noted historian, currently a history
professor at Reed College, Richard Fox
produced a set of revealing accounts about
Detroit and Detroiters in hisNiebuhr. But-
zel shares in them in relation to a tragic
event and the consequences. It was in the
post-World War I era when the black popu-
lation in Detroit increased from 5,700 n
1910 to 81,000 in 1925. With that growth
also developed a rising Ku Klux Klan
movement in the city. A racial incident in
1925 added to the emerging race issue
when a black physician, Dr. Osian Sweet,
bought a home in a predominantly white
district. On Sept. 9, a white mob assembled
and threatened to remove Dr. Sweet and
his family. In an exchange of gunshots one
of the crowd was killed. Clarence Darrow
and Arthur Garfield Hays were the suc-
cessful defending attorneys.
The Detroit mayoralty campaign fea-
tured at the time the ensuing debates over
the issues. The Ku Klux Klan was con-
demned by liberal preachers, notably
Reinhold Niebuhr, Lynn Harold Hough
and Joseph Vance. According to the Detroit
Times, the listeners to the sermons were
urged to "administer a body to that hooded
organization." John W. Smith, the sue,
cessful candidate for mayor who was op-
posed by Charles Bowles, had the support
of both the Detroit Times and the Detroit
Free Press. Niebuhr's sermon in his Beth
El Evangelical Church was featured on the
front pages of both newspapers and they
quoted Niebuhr:
"We fairminded Protestants can not
deny that it was Protestantism that gave
birth to the Ku Klux Klan, one of the worst

panim, absorption centers, chil-
dren's institutions, retirement and
nursing homes, social workers, etc.
It is also reported that the head
office provides 20 of these func-
tionaries with cars for the per-
formance of their duties which in
most cases is paper work in the
office.
The chairman of the depart-
ment is always available for televi-
sion interviews or for issuance of
statements to the press, or for his
feud with the ministry of absorp-
tion, but remarkably silent when it
comes down to the actual business
of promoting aliyah. A series ,let,
ters, not just one, dispatched to his
office by this writer, seeking litera-
ture, information and.promotional
material to enable the writing of a
series of articles to encourage
aliyah, all went unanswered, even
when sent by registered mail.
There is much more to the Alpert in-
dictment. To his credit it should be stated
that he comes to the defense of the shlichim,
who are to be viewed as victims of the
bureacracy. But the major guilt is evident.
Somewhere in Jewish Agency activities
there is a laxity that permits the function-
ing of a bureacracy.
Shlichim are an expensive item in
Jewish Agency, Israel and Zionist obliga-
tions. So also are messengers and emis-
saries in many other functions, including

,

specific social phenomena which the reli-
gious pride and prejudice of peoples has
ever developed . . . I do not deny that all
religions are periodically corrupted by
bigotry. But I hit Protestant bigotry the
hardest at this time because it happens to
be our sin and there is no use repenting for
other people's sins. Let us repent of our
own. We are admonished in Scripture to
jute men by their fruits, not by their
roots; and their fruits are their characters,
their deeds and accomplishments."
Re-elected, Mayor John W. Smith took
seriously the admonitions of Niebuhr and
appointed him chairman of the Inter-
R acial Committee. It is at this point that
Kebuhr began to share secular as well as
religious interests with his fellow citizens,
and this role also has a relationship to the
growing efforts against race prejudice in
thig country. That introductory move has a
reference to Detroit leadership at the time
and the Fox explanatory note is worth
quoting:
Unlike philanthropist Tracy

Fred M. Butzel

fundraising. Carl Alpert may have in-
spired a demand for a proving of proce-
dures that have caused continuity of er-
rors, and resort to squandering and mis-
management by officialdom.
This should be a major responsibility
of Jewish Agency and associated leader-
ships in the Diaspora and associated lead-
erships in the Diaspora and Israel and if
the Carl Alpeit charges are not treated
with respect it will be to the discredit of
leadership.
Yet, Jewish Agency spokespeople ap-
pear to be aiming at "pat on the back,"
inviting applause from Jewish com-
munities everywhere through the obser-
vence of a "Jewish Agency Week" toward
the end of February. The heads of the
Agency and its constituent Zionist organ-
izations, with an endorsement from the
Council of Jewish Federations, are all hon-
orable and highly respected personalities,
and what they say, whenever they invite
constituents' participation in their calls for
action, are always treated with acclaim,
respect, commitment. Therefore, they will
surely be highminded to permit a snicker
in consideration of the introduction of an-
other "week" on the calendar of Jewish
events.
There are many "days" and "weeks" on
the calendar of human events. When the
United Jewish Appeal in the process of
conducting fundraising, during that period
a UJA Sabbath to encourage geneoristy is
understandable. When Bar-Ilan Univer-
sity is in such a process, adherence to a

McGregor and Circuit Judge Ira
Jayne, the first two chairmen of
the committee. Niebuhr brought
energy and commitment to the job.
Charged by Smith to determine the
causes of the "dangerous civic
condition" and propose "such a
cure as seems best," the committee
used its $10,000 grant from the De-
troit Community Fund to sponsor a
four-month research project by
sociologist Robert Lansdale of the
University of Michigan and social
worker Forrester Washington,
former director of the Detroit
Urban League and author of a 1920
report, The Negro in Detroit. For all
his doubts about the ultimate
validity of "scientific reason,"
Niebuhr was an eager sponsor of
the plan to produce an empirical
study of black community organ-
ization and living conditions here
"We are going to employ experts to

Continued on Page 26

Reinhold Niebuhr

Bar-Ilan Sabbath to encourage support for
a great university is commendable.
Everybody observes Father's Day and
Mother's Day, and Grandparents's Day
may also take root soon. And it is consid-
ered a realism for manx often to comment,
why one day for Mother or Father, what
about the rest of the year — and that's
accompanied with a snicker.
Therefore, the snicker about Jewish
Agency Week.
The Jewish Agency was organized in
1929 by Louis Marshall and Chaim Weiz-
mann in Geneva. It became a symbol for
Jewish unity. It developed into an endless
effort, first in Israel's commencement, al-
ways in efforts to encourage aliyah, a con-
tinuing month by month, week by week,
day by day, hour by hour commitment to
I abor for the Jewish Renaissance, for the
uplifting of the Jewish spirit, and for the
never-ending battle for justice for Israel
and Jewry.
Where does a "week" come in if these
obligations are to be dutifully respected? Is
a special week's observance needed to
exonerate faults (see Carl Alpert's indict-
ment above) and to whitewash bureauc-
rats? Or is it to be another means of resort-
ing to fundraising?
The leaders who signed the call for a
Jewish Agency Week are honcirable
people. That doesn't mean they have not
erred, as charged, or misjudged in search-
ing for gimmicks. Let them explain
whether they think the new "gimmick"
really represents our people's vision.

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