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May 15, 1987 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-05-15

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

PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

From The Jew I Learned To Wait'

I am indebted to my revered friend and
teacher, Dr. Emanuel Rackman, for aler-
ting me to and sharing with me a most
illuminating view by a very eminent
Christian on the reason for the Jewish
vitality and survivalism.
Rabbi Rackman called my attention to
the explanatory definition by John
Galsworthy (1867-1933) that a four-letter
word — wait — accounts for the Jewish
will to live and the determination to
achieve it.
Dr. Rackman, the former president
and now chancellor of Bar-Ilan Universi-
ty in Israel, recalled the definitive state-
ment by Galsworthy, "From the Jew I
learned to wait."
It is additionally illuminating to me
that the enthused recollection of a famous
viewpoint about the Jews by an eminent
English author of the latter part of the
last and the first part of this centuries
should be by an equally eminent Jewish
author and scholar. Dr. Rackman now
authors one of the most informative col-
umns in the Jewish press. They are ap-
peals to reason and guides towards accep-
tance and adherence to the basic Jewish
ethical teachings. He practices devotion to
faith based on confidence of believing in
the ultimate blessings of justice. He does
not lose patience when he urges all

Emanuel Rackman

John Galsworthy

religious factions and the secularists as
well to adhere to the principle of Jewish
unity in pursuing the duties that are basic
to Jewish cooperativeness.

as Jews are surviving the most inhuman
that burdens the world with the most
cruel of all occurrences — the Holocaust.
John Galsworthy won the Nobel Prize
in Literature in 1932, the year before his
death. He authored scores of novels and
numerous plays, among them Loyalties.
The characters in this drama are guests
in the home of a wealthy squire. The
Jewish guest, while out of his bedroom to

That is why the principle inherent in
the idea and ideal embodied in "wait" is
so essential. If we fail to wait, we are
doomed. If we do not know how to "wait,"
then we cannot survive the most tragic,

bathe, finds his thousand pounds have
disappeared from under his pillow. In the
process of the embarrassments — the Jew
pledging to give the recovered sum to
charities — there are comments by the
guests. Even the most complimentary are
tinged with some suspicions. One of the
guests comments:
I don't like Hebrews. They
work harder; they're more sober;
they're honest; and they're
everywhere.
Emanuel Rackman was not yet bar
mitzvah when Loyalties was staged in this
country. By that time, John Galsworthy
must have been identified with numerous
Jewish personalities and occurrences, else
he could not have incorporated this asser-
tion in Loyalties. Else, he would not have
given the definitive reason for Jewish sur-
vivalism, "From the Jew I learned to
wait."
There is a personal thrill in equating
the author of the "wait" principle, John
Galsworthy, with my admired friend
Emanuel Rackman, who puts it into prac-
tice. That's how such scholars keep the
faith, provide spiritual sustenance for our
people by never abandoning patience. We
wait — and in the ultimate it must spell
triumph in survivalism.

U.S., Israeli Political Trends „ Contrasting Youth Opportunities

There are 17 to 18 months left for
balloting for the Reagans' successors as
White House occupants. It'll be some 16
months before the major opponents for the
Presidency will be chosen at the national
parties' conventions. Already, fortunate-
ly for our democratic way of life, can-
didates are lining up for the contest.
Fortunately, also, young aspirants for
important and responsible national posts
are making themselves available.
Students of Israel's political conditions are
envious of such American glories. A
measure of regret over such a contrast is
expressed in a New York Times op-ed page
article by Gideon Samet of the Israeli dai-
ly Hebrew newspaper Haaretz under the
title "A Dawning Revolution in Israeli
Politics." It is a most informative essay
and the approach to the problems discuss-
ed is on a pragmatic basis.
There have been contributions to the
American press by Israeli writers which
not only dealt with the negatives but were
partisan and on occasions read as if linen
belonging to Israelis was washed in public.
Now Samet's essay provides a thought-
provoking set of facts to indicate the dif-
ferences rampant in Israel's political life
and shows how the old guard retains con-
trol of the Labor Party. He shows where
efforts are in evidence to correct the situa-
tion, and the contrasts in parties are in-
dicated. Furthermore, he lists names of
available young Likud aspirants for
political and government posts who are
making themselves evident.
The deep interest American Jews have
in Israel makes the Samet study of Israel's
cast of characters a most valuable con-
tribution to our knowledge of
developments in the Jewish State. This
portion of his essay invites serious
attention:
For years it was inconceivable
to Israelis that someone who
wasn't on the bridge in the 1960s
can be at the helm in the 1980s.

This assumption is just beginning
to be nudged out of the public con-
sciousness, pushed out by the
Lebanon war, the Shin Beth scan-
dal, Irangate and now by the
Jonathan Jay Pollard spying af-
fair. But perhaps more important,
there is a growing feeling across
this nation, which has put an un-
paralleled trust in its leaders, that
they are now committed mainly to
their own survival, that they are
protecting each oher beyond par-
ty lines.
There is some irony in this
need for protection. These are
good times in Israel. Families
stocked up for Passover. The
stores are full of goods and
customers. All flights abroad are
booked two months ahead. The
annual rate of inflation now is just
about what the monthly rate was
two years ago. New American
films and fads and compact disks
arrive here within weeks.
So why new leaders?
Since independence, Israel has
gotten a good supply of people to
lead it. Yet, a younger generation
was hardly ever given a chance. A
few, like Moshe Dayan, made it to
the top, but only at a relatively ad-
vanced age. Without constant re-
juvenation, the quality of the
leading group has continuously
lost its luster. According to most
observers, the level of the Israeli
political elite has been on a
downward slope since the state's
creation, in 1948.
One reason has been the
system of proportional represen-
tation that ushers blocs of party
candidates into the Knesset accor-
ding to the party's relative show-
ing on elections. Although the
screening process has been spiff-

ed up a bit in Labor and Likud,
bright young attractive people
have not been drawn to the old
machines .. .
A change ten years ago in the
municipal elections system, in
which there was movement to
direct representation, clearly
showed that a hidden pool existed
from which better local leaders
could be selected. Mayors and
other chiefs of local municipalities
are now younger and better
educated than before. More of
them have been lured from the
lucrative private sector, which
usually keeps the best and the
brightest.
Why, many Israelis ask, could
a similar process of change not
take place in the big league?
Check some of the names.
While the United States has seen
four Presidents and hundreds of
legislators come and go in recent
years, able politicians have been
barred from the top jobs by a self-
preserving system. Quite a few
have been pushed to the sidelines.
Take the able, handsome
Moshe Katzav, 41 years old,
Minister of Labor (at 23, he was
the youngest municipality chief in
the country). Would he make a
worse Prime Minister than his
Likud party leader Mr. Shamir, 71?
And, in the same party, there is no
reason why a few of the "princes"
would not move up the very top:
the chief delegate to the United
Nations, Binyamin Netanyahu, 38;
members of the Knesset Dan
Meridor, 40, and Ehud Olmert, 42;
Mr. Begin's son, Binyamin, 44, or
the agile Meir Shitrit, 38, the ex-
tremely successful Mayor of
Yavne, a development town.
On the Labor side, the choice

is smaller. None of the 120 Knesset
members is younger than 36, and
among those 51 and under Labor
has only ten to the Likud's 17. Still,
in the Labor alignment one can
find the Minister of Economy and
Planning, Gad Yaacobi, 51; the
party secretary general, Uzi
Baram, 49; the Minister of Energy,
Moshe Shahal, 51, and the upcom-
ing finance expert Chaim Ramon,
36.
The former military chief of
staff Mordechai Gur, 56, who
recently quit his job of Minister of
Health, protesting the Shin Beth
cover-up, harbors aspirations to
be prime minister and is fairly
qualified for the job. Yossi Sarid,
46, from the left-of-center party
Ratz, who moved there from
Labor, disillusioned, carried with
him talent and a quick wit hardly
matched in Israeli politics. A
bright, promising figure looms
from the military, Brig. Gen. Ehud
Barak, 45, chief of the Central
Command, a former head of army
intelligence, with Labor leanings.
Isael cannot expect big leader-
ship. That ended with David Ben-
Gurion and, with all of his short-
comings, Menachem Begin. But
what the country not only needs
but indeed deserves is change.
Change, for its own sake, cannot
be a guiding principle in political
life. Yet Israel has clung to the
same leaders for so long that it
seemd to resent and resist any
shift at all.
Recent experience, following
distressing previous examples,
has shown that the present leader-
ship is mentally incapable of ad-
mitting its blunders. Oscar Wilde
said that experience is the name

Continued on Page 32

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