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June 27, 1986 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-06-27

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

WARNING`

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28

Friday, June 27, 1986

PONTIAC

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

leveled at the illustrations ac-
companying the articles by free-
lance cartoonist Giora Carmi,
whose work has been published
widely in Israel and America, in-
cluding the New York Times and
Business Week, and who was
commissioned by the Baltimore
Jewish Times. His cartoons ac-
companying the Hoffman articles
were attacked as "anti-Zionist
and anti-Israel" by Arye Dulzin,
the Israeli executive chairman of
the World Zionist Organization,
and other Israeli leaders. The Is-
raeli media treated the issue as a
major story and even Prime
Minister Shimon Peres became
involved when he asked for copies
of the booklet to study. The
Jerusalem Post reported on Mon-
day that the Prime Minister was
considering stepping in as a
peacemaker to solve the crisis,
which -threatened to overshadow
the agenda of the annual Assem-
bly.
The 30,000-word series by
Charles Hoffman, a veteran re-
porter for the Jerusalem Post,
sought to examine whether the
Jewish Agency/WZO is meeting
the needs of Israel and the Jewish
World. It also explored the rela-
tionship between Diaspora lead-
ership in America and the Zionist
leadership in Israel, and called
into question the historic lack of
accountability on the part of some
Israeli administrators for mil-
lions of dollars raised in the
United States for Israel.
The Baltimore Jewish Times
and JewishNews felt the Hoffman
series was .compelling and mer-
ited attention from the partici-.
pants of the Assembly, so it was
reprinted in booklet form and sent
to Jerusalem last week in the
hopes that it would be read and
provide useful baekground infor-
mation.
According to Howard Weis-
band, secretary general of the
Jewish Agency, Jerrold
Hoffberger, chairman of the
Agency's board of gbvernors, in-
tended to distribute the booklet to
the board's 74 members. "Any in-
formation I have," Hoffberger ex-
plained in a radio interview,
"ought to be in their hands as
well."
When the booklets were
brought to a pre-assembly meet-
ing of the Agency's top executive
committee, there was a furious
reaction from Dulzin and other
representatives of the World
Zionist Organization, who char-
acterized the articles as beipg
"full of malice and distortions."
They vehemently denounced the
'illustrations in particular as
being anti-Zionist and anti-
Semitic, and called for
Hoffberger's resignation.
The conflict did not reach the
Israeli public until Sunday morn-
ing when it became a leading item
in all of the news media. While the
Agency executive and the full
board of governors met in emer-
gency session all morning to dis-
cuss the matter, contradictory re-
ports and rumors of an imminent
split in the Agency leadership
flooded the media and titillated
arriving delegates. A committee
was appointed to draw up a reso-
lution, reportedly aimed at con-

demning the booklet and the
illustrations, for presentation to
the board of governors on June 27.
Seeking to put the bizarre con-
flict in perspective, Dr. Daniel
Elazar, president of the
Jerusalem Institute of Public Af-
fairs and an expert on the Jewish
Agency, told feature writer Elsa
Solender that the outcry over the
booklets may very well be a red
herring. He explained that
Zionist Executive members have
been looking for a pretense to
further evade implementation of
sweeping changes recommended
several years ago by the gover-
nance committee set up under the
Caesarea Process. He added, how-
ever, that the Giora Carmi illus-
trations honestly offended many
Israelis. "I am sadly and con-
stantly surprised how neither side
really understands the sen-
sibilities of the other side after
working together all these years,"
said Elazar, who now lives in
Jerusalem but still spends much
of his time in the United States for
his research.

Certainly the shrill tone of the
debate was heightened by the
Israeli media, famed for its ag-
gressive style of reporting. There
were constant references to a
comparison made by Eli Tavin,
chairman of the WZO culture
and education department, of
Carmi's drawings to those of Der
Sturmer, the notorious Nazi pro-
paganda journal. Hebrew-lang-
uage dailies have been almost
unanimous in denigrating the
booklet and describing it as anti-
Zionist, anti-Semitic and anti-
Jewish. And the newspaper
Davar ran a story on Giora Car-
mi, who now lives in New York,
describing him as a yored, one
who has emigrated from Israel.
The reporter asked Carmi if he
was an anti-Semite.
Even the Jerusalem Post,
which ran the Hoffman series in
a slightly condensed form after
it had appeared in Baltimore and
Detroit, called the cartoons "of-
fensive," adding however that
everyone had over-reacted. An
editorial said that "Diaspora im-
pulsiveness and insensitivity
has played into the hands of the
interlocking directorate of the
Agency-WZO and political-party
apparatus so as to deflect debate
from the real source of strain and
conflict."
Several Jewish Agency de-
partment heads pronounced the
Hoffman articles "good jour-
nalism," though they were less
complimentary about the
cartoons.
"The cartoons are deplorable,"
said Shoshana Cardin, national
president of the Council of
Jewish Federations. "I have no
problem with the articles," she
added. "The issues raised are
always being discussed, not just
because Charles Hoffman wrote
about them."
As the author of the articles in
question, Hoffman has been
keeping a low profile at the
Assembly. He said in an inter-
view that he believes many of his

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