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February 06, 1987 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-02-06

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

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OPINION

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28

Friday, February 6, 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

524-9220

Herzog Should Return
Germany's Friendship

ERIC GUTWILLIG

Special to The Jewish News

M

ost problems which
arise in the course of
events disappear
with time and are replaced by
new ones. This is the case with
problems which face individu-
als and problems which face
nations. However, occasionally
a dilemma arises which will
surface again and again and
simply refuses to go away. This
is true of the Arab-Israel con-
flict. It is also true of our atti-
tude towards the Germans,
considering what that nation
has done to our people, not in
the dim an _ d distant past, but
within the lifetime, of many of
us.
In most of its aspects, the
problem is one for the indi-
vidual. Whether to spend one's
holiday in Germany or even go
to live there, whether to buy a
German shaver or automobile,
are questions the individual
has to face and solve; each
must face his own conscience in
the matter. But when it comes
to a question like the ac-
ceptance of restitution from
Germany or, more recently,
the visit of President Herzog to
that country, then we have to
,face the problem as a nation
and give our answer collec-
tively.
Let's face it, many of those
who have found it convenient
to go back to live in Germany
have found an excuse, for
example: "Why blame the
whole German people for the
wrongdoings of the Nazis?"
This argument implies that
the German people were some-
how reluctantly forced to ac-
cept the excesses of a Nazi
minority. Much as we'd like to
believe this, history has it
otherwise. One needs only
focus one's memories on the
enthusiastic scenes with which
Hitler and his cohorts were
greeted by massive crowds
early in his career. Each eg-
regious announcement was re-
ceived with the wildest of
cheers, and the crasser his dec-
larations were, the more
enthusiastic the crowd waxed.
It was by a democratic
majority that Hitler was first
vjted into power, and if his
methods were subsequently far
from democratic, let us not lose
sight of that fact. No, that bit
about the reluctant German
majority being coerced by a
ruthless minority won't hold
water! So, the basis of any ra-
tional discussion of the prob-
lem must be that the German
people have committed a vast,
indescribable and inhuman
crime against the Jewish
people — a crime unprece-
dented in its magnitude, in its
vileness and in its wickedness.

Eric Gutwillig is a freelance
writer living in Haifa.

And that being so, would a
boycott of Germany by the
Jews — at least for the next few
generations — not be justified?
The answer seems to be: Jus-
tified? Yes. Wise? No.
Jews have boycotted Spain
after the inquisition, which
was of lesser scope than the
German Holocaust. Neverthe-
less, I find myself in disagree-
ment with the distinguished
gentlemen who would have
President Herzog renounce his
forthcoming visit. What is a
boycott intended to achieve?
This, at least, can be said with
confidence. The post-war Ger-
man leaders have expressed
deep regret at what was done
in their people's name and
have displayed a real sense of
outrage. The activities of a
small minority notwithstand-
ing, the militarism and the evil
manifestations that go with it,
thankfully seem to be a thing
of the past. Moieover, sur-
rounded as we are by vicious
enemies who would gladly ex-
terminate us, are we in a posi-
tion to reject an open hand ex-
tended to us in genuine friend-
ship?
When all is said and done,
the question has already been
decided, and to bring it up now
is purely academic. By accept-
ing restitution_
. payments and
by receiving visits from the
highest-ranking German lead-
ers, Israel has firmly declared
itself against the boycott op-
tion. To bring it up now is like
debating whether India should
be granted independence! The
decision has been made. Suc-
cessful visits by national lead-
ers can have a lasting and
salutary effect on the relations
between nations — witness the
effects of Mrs. Thatcher's
highly successful visit to Is-
rael.
The energy spent on debat-
ing whether President Herzog
should visit Germany or not,
would be better utilized ensur-
ing that his visit will be a suc-
cessful one!

Task Force
On Unity

Philadelphia (JTA) —
Jewish leaders have formed a
task force on intracommunal
understanding to work against
a national trend of divisive
religious differences within
the Jewish community: The
group hopes that a series of
meetings will lead to dis-
cussions within the commu-
nity.
The National Jewish Center
for Learning and Leadership
has begun a national unity
program. Three rabbis in San
Francisco and two in New Jer-
sey have undertaken local pul-
pit exchanges with the same
intent.

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