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August 01, 1986 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-08-01

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

FOCUS

Think Tank

Continued from preceding page

September and October
were busy and tense months
for all involved. Goren and
Hayden went to Israel to lob-
by for the project. Zelniker
flew to Los Angeles to jnin
Spiegel in meeting with local
bl ack 1 aari.a. x--, mtvice and
support.
The timing could hardly
have been worse, for blacks
and Jews in Los Angeles were
wrestling with the worst cris-
is in their relationship over
the controversial appearance
and anti-Semitic harangue of
Black Muslim leader Louis
Farrakhan.
Yet, says Spiegel, he found
that black leaders warmly en-
dorsed the project. "Finally
we have some action, instead
of just dialogue," said one of
them.
At the same time, Congress-
man Howard Berman of Los
Angeles organized similar
meetings between black and
Jewish leaders in Washington.
While the Histadrut de-
clared its willingness to carry
the expenses for the stay and
training of the first group of
20 blacks, a way had to be
found to pay for their fare
from their scattered resi-
dences in South Africa to
Johannesburg, and from
there to Israel.
Goren became the chief fund
raiser, but with discouraging
results. Liberal Jews felt the
idea smacked of tokenism;
conservative Jews questioned
the practicality of the enter-
prise.
"If I go to someone and say
I need a $1,000 to feed hun-
gry Jews, I'll get the money,
but this whole thing just
seemed too far-fetched," says
Goren.
Finally, and partially by
digging into their own pock-
ets, the center's officers
raised the needed money.
However, the logistics of get-
ting the 20 blacks together,
making travel arrangements,
and telexing money for the
tickets proved formidable,
even with the intensive work
of an Israeli woman, a well-
known activist for Soviet
Jewry, who was temporarily
in Johannesburg and served
as the middleman on the
ground.
It was real nail-biting time,
punctuated by urgent mid-
night calls, recalls Goren, and
at one crucial point all the
money sent over for the tick-
ets mysteriously disappeared
for 10 days in the innards of
an El Al computer. "Until the
very last moment, we didn't
know whether the South Af-
rican group would really
make it," says Goren.
When the 11 women and
nine men from South Africa
landed at Ben Gurion Air-
port, they were met by a
dozen French-speaking alum-
ni of the Histadrut course,
who had stayed an extra two
days to welcome the English-
speaking contingent. The



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28

Friday, August 1, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Tom Hayden:
Tutu go-between.

date was March 30, Easter
Sunday, and the new arrivals
were taken immediately to
the Holy Sepulcher, a major
Christian shrine, in Jerusalem.
"It was tremendously emo-
tional," says Goren, who was
in constant touch with his
contacts in Israel.
For the center, the arrival of
the first group is only a begin-
ning. Plans call for sending
rotating groups of 20-25
South African blacks to
Israel at the rate of three to
six times a year.
Goren says the center has
pledged itself to underwrite
the cost of transportation, liv-
ing expenses and Histadrut
training courses over a two-
year period, running to an

estimated $1 million.
The need to raise funds at
that level is one reason the
center has decided to go pub-
lic at this. time, and an ad-
visory board of half a dozen
persons is now in formation
to join the original founding
group.
"But we won't become a
bureaucracy," Goren pro-
mises. "Our strength is in our
flexibility and quick reaction
time."
Although the South Afri-
can operation is the most
dramatic example of the
center's work so far, its scope
extends much further.
Its initial project dealt with
the strategic importance of
Israel to the United States,
resulting in a series of studies
and articles which have been
widely quoted in Congres-
sional debates and Pentagon
briefs. The centerpiece of the
project is the influential book
by Spiegel on The Other
Arab-Israeli Conflict: Making
America's Middle East Pol-
icy, from Truman to Reagan.

Now in the planning stage
are projects on U.S,Soviet-
Israel relations, on Jewish
values and political options,
and the publication of a
foreign policy journal.
The modus operandi, says
Spiegel, will be to appoint a
research director and fund
raiser for each separate pro-
ject. Some of the research, he
hopes, will be conducted in
cooperation with Ben Gurion
University and other private
Israeli institutions.

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