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October 24, 1986 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-10-24

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

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Friday, October 24, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

ciated with the Jewish
people, according to Eban.
The first is the mystery of
preservation, of how the
Jewish people managed to re-
tain its identity under condi-
tions in which no other
people has preserved its iden-
tity.
Second, the mystery of re-
sonance. You cannot look at
the history of civilization,
without coming face to face
with what the Jews have said
and written and produced
and suffered," Eban asserted.
Suffering is the third mys-
tery, the Jewish people's
"seemingly magnetic" ability
to attract "impulses of vio-
lence" to itself, "culminating
in the greatest martyrology
of all," the Holocaust.
And finally, "the greatest
mystery of all," the mystery
of renewal: the reunion of the
Jewish language, land and
people "in a unique bridge
thrown across the gulf of
generations." The rise of the
State of Israel," Eban said, is
the "only time in history the
world has witnessed the re-
birth of a nation."
Looking back to the ear-
liest eras of Jewish history,
Eban finds three main con-
tributions made by the Jews:
the concepts of moral choice,
social justice and interna-
tional peace.
He sketched the uniquely
Hebrew "revolt against de-
terminism ... to choose the
good and reject evil," and its
corollary, the concept of pro-
gress in history, resulting in
"a march toward unattaina-
ble perfection," the Messianic
Age.
The idea of social justice —
enshrined in the biblical pre-
cept, "You shall love your
neighbor as yourself" — arose
"in an environment in which
social injustice seemed to be
a part of everyday life," Eban
told his listeners. It was "a
revolt against past civiliza-
tions."
So, too, was the concept of

international peace, as em-
bodied in the prophecy of
Isaiah: "nation shall not lift
up sword against nation ..."
In all other civilizations,"
said Eban, "war was consid-
ered to be a part of man's na-
ture." No notion of pacifism
is to be found in any other
ancient nation's literature. It
is a "unique impulse that was
born in Judaism."
Eban the diplomat resur-
faced when he spoke of the
period of the kings of Judah
and Israel. Eban did not bask
in the glory of those days, but
called the Hebrew kingdoms
a "total failure in political
organization and interna-
tional diplomacy."
According to Eban, the
monarchy was a "ramshackle
device" which boasted "a long
list of kings with unpro-
nouncable names, about
whom even the Hebrew scrip-
tures have very little good to
say." And the histories of the
kings were written by men
who sought to put their mas-
ters in a positive light.
In the arena of interna-
tional statecraft, the Hebrew
kingdoms invariably made
the wrong choices, Eban said.
If one of the two great em-
pires — Egypt and Babylonia
— were about to go to war,
the Jews always allied them-
selves with the one who was
going to lose.
Of all the ancient Hebrews,
only the prophet Jeremiah
could have been called a dip-
lomat, Eban argued.
Jeremiah told his fellow Jews
to make the best of exile, and
to wait patiently for better
days; self-preservation rather
than salvation, in other
words.
The opposite was more
often the case in the early
period of Jewish history when
Jews revolted "when there
was no chance of success."
Eban the diplomat warned
against glorifying these failed
revolts — the uprisings of 70

Continued on Page 26

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