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January 23, 1987 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-23

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

PURELY COMMENTARY

11.■•■•

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Prejudice In Israel Emerges In Renewed Threats To Non-Orthodox

"Tolerance" could become a very ugly
word if misapplied and misinterpreted. Yet
there are always warnings against misap-
plication. In the Apocrypha there is the
admonition which has resounded in Jewish
traditional ranks: "we ought to show the
same keen spirit of generosity to our oppo-
nents so that we may win them over to the
right." In Israel there has arisen a clique of
rightists so extreme that it would rather
destroy the unity of the Jewish people than
strive for even a minimum of tolerance of
Jew toward Jew.
This becomes apparent in a statement
publicized in Jerusalem and widely re-
peated in this country quoting Rabbi Yit-
zhak Peretz, who early this month res-
igned as Israel's interior minister over a
court ruling granting Jewish citizenship
rights to a lady who was converted to
Judaism by a Reform rabbi. A New York
Times report from Jerusalem, Jan. 5, re-
ported Peretz condemning Reform.
Judaism:

On a popular afternoon news
program on the Israeli radio today,
Rabbi Peretz said of Reform Jews,
"These people condemn the nation
of Israel to death and are leading
the nation of Israel to destruction,
annihilation and assimilation."
He called for action by Israel's
rabbis and political leaders, saying
the problem of Reform Judaism
was Israel's "No. 1 problem — even
more important than economic
problems, tax reform or the new
economic policy."
This attitude, so hate-filled toward fel-
low Jews, is so shocking that it hardly
needs much comment, inviting severe con-
demnation. But the impression must not be
left that Peretz speaks for Jewish Or-
thodoxy. There are severe rejections of that
viewpoint and they must be recorded. Most
impressive, and admirable to the highest
degree, is the interpretation of the proper
Jewish approach to the issue that is being

continued in Israel under the guidance of
what are believed to be a very few like
Rabbi Peretz by one of the most distin-
guished world Orthodox leaders. In one of
his very instructive articles in the Jewish
Week of New York, Dr. Emanuel Rackman,
former president and now chancellor of
Bar-Ilan University in Israel, called the
destroyers of Jewish unity to task. While,
under the heading "Secularist Teddy Kol-
lek Makes a Religious Point" he was pay-
ing honor to Jerusalem's mayor, he was
also attacking the entire bigoted approach
of the Jewish extremists who were acting
in the guise of Orthodox leaders. In his
analytical Jewish Week essay Rabbi
Rackman wrote:
In Israel, except for the ultra-
Orthodox, most Orthodox Jews
recognize that we must have num-
bers. They do not want to read out
of our midst the majority who are
not Orthodox. But they prefer that

Dr. Emanuel Rackman

Continued on Page 26

45th Anniversary Of The Struma And Her 762 Victims

Struma, the very utterance of it, raises
hair on edge. It is the heart-breaking,
nerve-racking, mind-shattering term for
horror and mankind's indifference to
. brutalities during the Hitler-menaced era
of a world crisis.
Typing the very name of that coffin
boat causes hands to shake, fingers to turn
numb.
It is a recollection of the period of flight
,
..,-' from death, only to meet death, when Jews
f were fleeing from the Nazi hordes. The es-
capees grasped at every means of seeking a
path, wet or dry, to get to the only haven of
hope, the Jewish National Home in pre-
Israel Palestine.
It was when the menaced Jews, pursu-
ing the hope to find refuge in Palestine,
were pleading, giving up their possessions
for a spot on a boat, any rickety vessel, with
the aim of reaching the shores of Palestine.
All other shores were denied them and
Palestine was to be reached clandestinely.

1 i

Multilingual Israel

With the rebirth of the State of
Israel, it is often indicated that its
population stems from nearly 150
countries in the world.
How about their native lan-
guages?
Many tongues are frequently
heard on Israel's streets by visiting
tourists. In his weekly column Digest
of the Yiddish Press, in the Jewish
Post and Opinion, Rabbi Samuel
Silver called attention to the follow-
ing:

11 Languages

How multilingual Israelis
are can be discerned in the
Forward piece about a literary
seminar which took place in
Israel recently. Convoked by a
writers' association, the
gathering encompassed
authors who write in Hebrew,
Arabic, Yiddish, Russian,
Rumanian, German, Hunga-
rian, Polish, Spanish, English,
and French.
In their wanderings over two mil-
lenia, Jews have learned, often mas-
tered, many languages. The above
mentioned may be a rare occasion
when so many languages are shared in
a literary symposium. Even the
United Nations can't claim such fame.

Perhaps the problem would have been
completely resolved had it not been for the
British closed-door policies for those seek-
ing haven in the ancient homeland. But
there were those of the resistance to the
British obstructions in defiance of the im-
posed injustices. At least there was hope
and any price was worth the sacrifice.
Therefore, any vessel, like those which
accommodated dozens, were occupied by
many hundreds who were holding on to the
hope that spelled Palestine. It was the era
of the coffin boats, nearly all denied an-
choring by the nations to which the plea for
mercy was addressed. That's when boats,
denied anchorage, returned to the Nazi-
dominated spheres and to the death they
sought to escape. Many of the panicked
who were frantically in search of haven
met watery graves.
Some 13,000 refugees sought rescue
from the mounting threats in Romania, on
13 boats, from 1939 to 1944. The tragedy
that struck one of them, the Struma, will
always point accusing fingers at the
heartlessness that caused the horror.
It was the dishonest Greek shipping
agent Pandalis who published misleading
advertisements for applicants to take them
to Palestine at $200 a ticket. Requests for
accommodations kept pouring in and 769
were taken aboard the boat that proved so
dilapidated that not even 100 could nor-
mally find space on the ill-fated vessel.
There was no way of imagining that
the British would permit these duped
passengers to take the road from Con-
stanza and be admitted to Palestine. But
the anxiety to escape the impending terror
and to acquire the sanctity of a home in the
Holy Land was too strong for the misled
passengers.

The Struma commenced sailing in De-
cember 1941 on the way to Istanbul, and a
day and a half journey lasted a week. Tur-
kish authorities allowed the Struma to an-
chor but no one was permitted to go ashore
and for ten weeks the boat remained at
anchor at Istanbul.
It should be stated in all fairness that
the British ambassador in Turkey urged
admission of the refugees to Palestine on
humanitarian grounds. His government in
London responded to his cable with a reply
that his Majesty's government would not
alter its policies. Nevertheless, some sym-
pathy was generated in many parts of the
globe where the news could be circulated.
In London, Prime Minister Winston Chur-
chill urged help for the Struma passengers.
Colonial Minister Lord Moyne defended

many years. He is now believed to be living
in Japan.
The dead numbered 762. They were
immediately on the conscience of the de-
cent people of the world, and certainly of
the Jewish communities, especially in the
United States.

Lord Moyne

the British White Paper limiting Jewish
immigration to Palestine, arguing that
Aab support for the British war effort
would be undermined if Jews were permit-
ted to settle in Palestine indiscriminately.
He lost his colonial post, perhaps because
of such an inhuman decision. He was trans-
ferred to a diplomat post in Cairo, where he
was assassinated in 1944 by members of
the Stern Gang.
Conditions during the ten-week an-
chorage of the Strum at Istanbul were in-
tolerable. The bitter cold and the in-
humane conditions on the boat were hor-
rifying. The Istanbul Jewish community
was denied the right to welcome the refu-
gees. It provided food for the unfortunates
and it was as much as the Istanbul Jews
were permitted to do.
On Feb. 23, 1942, the Turkish police
untied the Struma, released it from its an-
chors and forced the dilapidated boat to set
sail without warning. It was not even
allowed to store up food.
Seven miles at sea, after being forced
out of Istanbul, there was a loud explosion.
It was the end of the horrifying voyage.
Earlier, six of the passengers had been re-
leased and were permitted to disembark,
and three of them were granted visas to
Palestine. Only one of the remaining 763
passengers, David Stolei, survived the
sinking. He swam back to shore, being a
strong swimmer, and was able soon there-
after to reach Palestine, living there for

While it was generally believed that a
German U-boat had torpedoed the Struma
it was later established that a Soviet war-
ship had misidentified the Struma as an
enemy vessel. In Purely Commentary, in
The Detroit Jewish News, May 23, 1980,
appeared the following: "An interesting
revelation was in Deutchland Berichte,
published in Bonn and edited by Rolf Vogel
in 1965. It claimed that the Struma and
another refugee floating coffin boat, the
Mefkure, which was sunk in August of
1944 with 313 escapees from Nazism
aboard, only ten surviving, were dyna-
mited and sunk by the Russians as an act of
war."
The horror that was aroused resulted
in many protests, challenging Christian
conscience for permitting an inhuman act
like the Struma. A resolution adopted by
the North Philadelphia and Strawberry
Mansion Zionist Districts and the
Philadelphia B'nai Israel and B'nai Jeshu-
ran Congregation chided the British action
and asked for a change in the British
prejudicial and anti-Zionist policies. The
resolution was inserted in the Congres-
sional Record, June 24, 1942, by Con-
gressman Michael J. Bradley who also
submitted it to the then acting Secretary of
State Sumner Welles. The Welles reply,
which also was inserted in the Congres-
sional Record by Rep. Bradley, had great
significance. Welles stated:

My Dear Mr. Bradley: The re-
ceipt is acknowledged of your let-
ter of March 18, 1942, enclosing a
letter you had received from Rabbi
Aaron Decter, of the Congregation
Beth Israel, Thirty-second Street
and Montgomery Avenue,
Philadelphia, Pa., together with a
copy of a resolution which had
been passed by the North
Philadelphia and Strawberry
Mansion Zionist Districts and the
members of the Beth Israel and
B'nai Jeshurun Congregations
protesting against the death of 750
refugees on the steamship Struma.
I am sorry to say that the in-

Continued on Page 26

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