Friday, March 14, 1986
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
THE JEWISH NEWS
Serving Detroit's Metropolitan Jewish Community
with distinction for four decades.
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Grinch Who Stole Christmas
Or Protecting Our Rights?
© 1986 by The Detroit Jewish News (US PS 275-520)
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CANDLELIGHTING AT 6:19 P.M.
VOL. LXXXIX, NO. 3
Man In The Glass Booth
In 1962, Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death by an Israeli court.
As the world looked at Eichmann, a quite ordinary looking man
ensconced for the duration of the trial in a bulletproof glass booth in a
Jerusalem court room, it learned that the face of evil is insidiously and
Now, almost 41 years after the Second World War, another war
crimes trial is about to begin in Israel. This time, the accused is
66-year-old John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian native who has been living
with his wife and children in Cleveland since 1958. Demjanjuk, who was
extradited to Israel last week, has been charged with gassing hundreds of
thousands of Jews at Treblinka, the Polish concentration camp.
Despite suggestions, even from some Israelis, that this trial is
superfluous and divisive and much too late, Demjanjuk's trial is
warranted. The trial will assure those who suffered under the Nazis that
even four decades after the fact justice can still be served. The trial will
teach those who were born after the Nazis had been vanquished that man
is capable of things of which our civics texts never speak. It will hopefully
force those who perversely insist that the Holocaust never even occurred
to come to their senses and face the reality which Demjanjuk represents.
And all of us — young and old; Jew and gentile, Holocaust victim and
Holocaust by-stander — must again be reminded, as we were 24 years
ago when Eichmann was tried, that the face of evil is, indeed, deceptively
banal — and that it may even reside in a simple house in such a typically
American city as Cleveland.
Have the terrorists won?
Israel set a record for tourism, in 1985 with 1.4 million tourists adding
$1.4 billion to the economy. Israel would have achieved an even better record
if Leon Klinghoffer's murderers aboard the Achille Lauro and the terrorists
who attacked the Rome and Vienna airports had not wreaked their bloody
havoc towards the end of the year.
Americans reacted to those terrorism incidents, reducing their, travel to
Europe, to Africa, to most overseas destinations, including Israel. Israeli
last week that
Minister of Tourism Abraham Sharir told The Jewish News
tourism in 1986 is continuing at the 1985 pace, but tourism from America has
declined 10 percent. With Americans representing one-third of Israel's
visitors, our brethren will have to outstrip last year's record to overcome our
America and Western democracy have become the new targets of
terrorism. Is it prudent at this time to take a personal risk and travel to Israel,
or allow our children to spend the summer there in one of hundreds of
The answer is "yes."
Airport security in the U.S. and Israel is so strict that no direct flight
between the two countries has ever been interferred with. Residents of
Jerusalem safely walk alone at night, to shop or relax. It is a practice that
could not.be repeated in many of our own neighborhoods.
We must re-think our stay-at-home-in-safety mentality to include Israel.
For an American Jesh audience, the Ministry of .Tourism's slogan, "Come
to Israel. Stay with fends" should be changed to "Come to Israel. Stay with
Have the terrorists won? Only if we let them.
BY THEODORE R. MANN
Special to The Jewish New
Last November, the American
Jewish Congress filed a suit in the
Federal district court it Chicago to
stop the city and county govern-
ment§- 4from displaying a creche, or
nativity scene, and a menorah in
government buildings. The 1985
holiday season is over, of course; but
the suit is not.
We view the Chicago litigation
as a "test" case with national impli-
cations. We hope, indeed, we expect,
that unlike the .1984 Pawtucket
creche case, known as Lynch v.
Donnelly, the Chicago suit will lead
to the establishment of clear, unam-
biguous guidelines for government
display of religious symbols.
The American Jewish Congress
did not reach the decision to file the
suit lightly. We were well aware
that there may be unpleasant fallout
from such a suit, both within the
Jewish community and from our
Christian neighbors. Nevertheless,
the vindication of the principle that
government must remain neutral as
to religion is sufficiently important
to the long-term interests of the
Jewish community in the United
States to justify our risking short-
term discomfort. But because of the
possible repercussions of this litiga-
tion, we feel we owe the American
Jewish community an explanation of
why we decided as we did.
The fight against government
display of creches is hardly new. For
years, the Jewish community has as-
serted that government display of a
creche — a sacred symbol of Chris-
tianity, representing the birth of the
Christian messiah — "establishes"
religion not only in a technical con-
stitutional sense, but in a very prac-
tical sense as well.
Theodore R. Mann is president of the
American Jewish Congress and an
attorney in Philadelphia.
Government display of a Chris-
tian religious symbol (as differ-
entiated from the arguably secular
Christmas tree and reindeer) sends a
two-fold message to the community:
that government officially endorses
that Christian symbol, and, there-
fore, Christianity; and, conversely,
PUBLISHER: Charles A. Buerger
EDITOR EMERITUS: Philip Slomovitz
EDITOR: Gaty Rosenblatt
CONSULTANT: Carmi M. Slomovitz
ART DIRECTOR: Kim Muller-Thym
NEWS EDITOR: Alan Hitsky
LOCAL NEWS EDITOR: Heidi Press
LOCAL COLUMNIST: Danny Raskin
Part of the annual nativity scene in front
of Madison Heights City Hall.
that government views Jews and
other non-Christians as outsiders —
as somehow tolerated guests in our
Such government action is a
fundamental affront to the idea of
equality of membership in the
American political community, a
principle that is the bedrock of our
precious religious liberty.
We believe that if the Jewish
community continues to accept the
spread of government-sponsored
creches and their message of politi-
cal inequality without taking action,
we will, be conspiring in our own
political and psychological disaffec-