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CANDLELIGHTING AT 5:10 P.M.
VOL. XC, NO. 10
Great Britain should be applauded for severing diplomatic relations
with Syria. The break came after an English court convicted a Jordanian
for trying to smuggle a bomb aboard an El Al airliner. For this task, he
had been hired by the Syrian government.
In both trying the Jordanian and breaking relations with Syria, the
English government has fought the anarchy of terror with a devotion to
law that has marked the British way for centuries. It has broken
relations with a nation that is reputed to be the most efficient in
employing terrorism as an adjunct to diplomacy. It has shown that among
the community of nations, some, such as Syria, are outcasts with whom
civilized countries should have little, if any, dealings.
Other nations, such as the United States and Canada, have
withdrawn their ambassadors as a sign of solidarity with the British. One
can only hope that a majority of the world's nations, including the
reticent European Economic Community,,Will join in isolating Syria.
Such excommunication should not be a matter of polity, but of morality.
Such an ascendency of morality may weaken the stranglehold of
terrorism on our planet.
Readin' And Religion
Last Friday, a federal judge in Tennessee ruled that textbooks used
by a county school system had violated the constitutional rights of seven
fundamentalist Christian families.
Perhaps we could not expect anything less from such a decision in
Tennessee. Tennessee, after all, is the state that gave us the Scopes case,
the "Monkey Trial" that questioned the teaching of evolution in public
schools. And like the Scopes case, last week's judicial ruling was not only
troublesome. It threatens to be a major legal and educational mistake.
Generations have struggled with the issue of religion in the
classroom. It is not an easy problem to resolve. Liberals, relying on the
Constitution's church/state separation clause, have contended that public
financing of schools that incorporate aspects of religion in their
curriculum are illegal. Conservatives allege that a curriculum that
eschews any mention of God — one that hews to what fundamentalists
call "secular humanism" — violates the Constitution's freedom of religion
Last week's judicial ruling was as narrow as possible. It allows the
plaintiffs to remove their children from classrooms during the use of
reading-instruction texts that violate their theological beliefs. The
decision does not extend to other persons or to other subjects.
But by allowing theology to be the arbiter of curriculum content,
even for the children of seven plaintiffs, a federal court has allowed
religion into the classroom. By extrapolating from this decision — and
one can be sure extrapolation will come in the form of many similar
lawsuits around the country — the public school system will cease to be
the "great equalizer" it was intended to be.
There Is A Strong Case
For 'Single Issue' Politics
Dr. Milton J. Steinhardt
W hat is meant by "Single
voices in the Jewish community
were raised against what is called
the "single issue" — referring to the
tendency of making a pro-Israel pol-
icy the litmus test for supporting
Certainly there is agreement
that the continuity of Judaism de-
pends on two important pillars: the
survival of Israel, and the freedom
inherent in pluralism in the Dias-
pora. Therefore, anything threaten-
ing the integrity and expression and
continuity of the Jewish community
cannot be tolerated at any price.
However, we find it difficult to
accept the broad generalization of
Senator Carl Levin that: If a candi-
date is for Israel and also for school
prayers, then I say he is not for Is-
rael." We prefer instead to explore
the particulars. We offer another
illustration: If the "Jews for Jesus"
or any similar groups declare them-
selves pro-Israel and then proceed to
proselytize, they would be met with
the contempt they deserve.
It is clear to any observer of the
American scene that pluralism and
religious tolerance are not only a
constitutional right but a necessary
and unalterable reality because of
the multiple ethnic and religious
Open Christian school prayers
would be intolerable and must be re-
sisted with all our might. However,
there are extenuating circumstances
Milton J. Steinhardt is a Southfield
psychiatrist. This article appeared in the
October issue of The Zionist Viewpoint"
published by the Detroit Zionist
such as silent prayers similar to
meditation which are not a provoca-
tion, though admittedly a poor pre-
cedent. I believe the supporters of
prayers in school may be misguided
in the effectiveness of their objective,
but they are sincere in attempting to
bring some moral dimension to the
classroom to reduce crimes that are
a reaction to authority or racism.
It is relevant to quote Norman
Lamm, president of Yeshivah Uni-
versity, in the New York Times of
Israel cannot suffer one
major defeat; local issues
Oct. 14: If the university does not
teach the moral superiority of educa-
tion as opposed to ignorance, of rea-
son over impulse, of integrity as
against cheating, then its very foun-
dation begins to crumble."
We frequently encounter such
lame excuses as "this is only a
value-judgement" to justify obvious
While I oppose school prayer,
which at best may become a ritual
without substance, I do not regard
supporters of prayers as destructive
of pluralism. It seems unfair to de-
mand that all supporters of Israel
agree with us in all particulars; even
Knesset members have a divergence
of opinions. Many Christian leaders
frequently emphasize Judeo-
Christian values, and certainly we
It is relevant to note that
church-state issues do not present as
great a barrier as in prior historical
periods. In fact, in recent decades
there are more manifestations of
anti-Semitism in public than in.