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July 17, 1987 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-07-17

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

PURELY COMMENTARY

All-Jewish Task: Overcome Undemocratic Extremism

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Editor Emeritus

An undemocratic extremism, rooted
in ultra-Orthodoxy, has been in
evidence for some time in Israel. Now
there are some bent upon imposing
their will upon the rest of society with
a fanaticism that bars access to a free
press, that would impose their type of
fundamentalism upon the entire
nation.
It is because they are able to garner
about a dozen Knesset votes in an elec-
tion for Parliament that they are able
to dictate many of their tactics upon the
entire people.
Thomas Friedman's New York
Times expose of this growing ultra-
fanaticism sends a chill through the
concerned friends of Israel, as it should
at the outset outrage all Israelis
themselves.
For an understanding of the moun-
ting problem it is necessary first to take
into account the forms of ideological dif-
ferences in the nation of Israel. Fried-
man defines the divisions as follows:

The Jewish population in
Israel can be divided into four
distinct camps.
By far the largest part of the

population, about 45 percent,
are non-observant Jews, either
immigrants to Israel or native-
born, who virtually never go to
synagogue. They serve in the ar-
my, send their children to state
secular schools and fully sup-
port the secular Zionist state.
The majority of these people
support the Labor Party and the
small secular leftist parties.
The next largest group,
about 35 percent of Israelis,
would call themselves "tradi-
tional Jews:' Most of these are
Sephardic Jews from Moslem
countries, who are observant
but not in a strict fashion and
who fully support the Zionist
state- Members of this group
form the backbone of the na-
tionalist Likud bloc.
A third group are known as
"dati," or Orthodox, Jews. They
are highly observant and
regularly attend synagogue, but
believe that secular Zionist na-
tionalism and Judaism can live
together. They make up 15 per-
cent of the population and are
represented politically by the
National Religious Party, the
Morasha Party and by the two

Bill Of Rights

ARTICLE I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of

religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and
to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
ARTICLE II A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of
a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
ARTICLE III No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house,
without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be
prescribed by law.
ARTICLE IV The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by
oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and
the persons or things to be seized.
ARTICLE V No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise
infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, ex-
cept in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in ac-
tual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject
for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be
compelled in any criminal case to be a witness, against himself, nor be depriv-
ed of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private pro-
perty be taken for public use, without just compensation.
ARTICLE VI In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right
to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district
wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been
previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of
the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have com-
pulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance
of counsel for his defense.
ARTICLE VII In suits at common law, where the value in controversy
shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and
no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United
States, than according to the rules of the common law.
ARTICLE VIII Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines
imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
ARTICLE IX The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall
not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

ARTICLE X The powers not delegated to the United States by the Con-
stitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respec-
tively, or to the people.

2

FRIDAY, JULY 17, 1987

state-appointed chief rabbis,
Avraham Shapira for the Ashke-
nazim and Mordechai Eliahu for
the Sephardim. They serve in
the army, send their children to
state-run religious schools and
are identifiable by the knitted
yarmulkas they wear.
The fourth and smallest
group, consisting of about five
percent of the population, are
the Haredim, who are general-
ly referred to in English as the
"ultra-Orthodox." Among the
many goups are chasidic sects
related to those in the United
States .. .
Within this Haredi group is
the Netura Karta sect, anti-
Zionists who totally reject the
secular state. The majority of
Haredim, however, are non-
Zionists who are willing, if not
to recognize the secular state of
Israel, then at least to take part
in its government to advance
their own religious agenda and
to share in state funds.
The Haredim's main parties,
Shas or Sephardic Torah Guar-
dians, and Agudat Israel, are
part of the governing coalition.
The members do not serve in the

armed forces, and their children
attend state-financed yeshivas.

It is the five percent which seeks
domination and utilizes the balance of
power it attained from the privilege
granted it from the earliest days of
David Ben-Gurion's prime ministership
that is the most serious threat to
Israel's existence. It has a leadership
that seems unconcerned about the
security and future of the state. All it
seeks is power. Some of its members do
not even approve of Israel's sovereign-
ty. They had cabled Jordan's King Hus-
sein on occasions to come and rescue
them from the Ziionists and to take over
rulership of Eretz Israel. The latter ele-
ment may be small in number but they
exert an influence in their group that
would bar all democratic ways of life.
They are actively opposing freedom of
press and speech. In his expose of what
has developed, Friedman commenced a
long cable from Bnei Brak as follows:

Until six months ago,
Shimon Tsimhe had the hottest
newsstand business in Bnei
Brak — before the bombing.
Now he ekes out a living selling
felafel sandwiches.
"I used to sell lots of

Continued on Page 36

Constitution And Our Liberties

The bicentennial of the Constitu-
tion is a festival commemorating the
roots of our freedoms.
We introduce into unforgetfulness
the Bill of Rights and we attach to the
reminiscing of it the glories that have
accumulated for us in the generations
of nation-building.
The blessings that have become
ours are primarily the religious
freedoms and the civil liberties.
There is the constantly-repeating
reminder that an assurance of the right
to worship without interference in ac-
cordance with a free citizen's choosing
and belief entails a duty to guarantee
adherence to the basic principle of
separation of church and state.
The civil liberties have their foun-
dation in the idealism of the Founding
Fathers.
The leadership was provided by the
first president. George Washington,
who presided at the Constitutional Con-
vention and was the first to preside over
this nation, set forth the root principle
of this nation when he proclaimed that
to bigotry there will be no sanction.
He proclaimed it is an oft-quoted ex-
change of letters with the Jewish con-
gregation of Newport, R.I. It had its
counterpart in an exchange with the
Savannah, Ga. synagogue.

Therefore it was a consistency that
has become a continuity in genuine
Americanism.
In the 200 years of the history of the
American Constitution there have been
sad days. There were attempts at
bigotry, there has been as there is even
now evidence of anti-Semitism, just as
there is evidence of anti-Catholicism

and hatred for the blacks. But George
Washington's declaration against
bigotry remains the basic principle of
our American idealism. When there is
a faltering we battle for it.
In A Documentary History of the
Jews in the United States, (Schocken),
Morris U. Schappes incorporates the
complete texts of the Savannah and
Newport congregations with
Washington. Schappes' is a most in-
teresting assembly of facts covering the
years 1554 to 1875.
In an introductory comment to the
Newport congregation he observes that
"it was a congregation and not
Washington that first used the striking
characterization of our government as
one "which to bigotry gave no sanction,
to persecution no assistance." In reply,
Washington rejects the undemocratic
concept of "toleration" for the
democratic one of "equality."
The Newport exchange has been
widely and extensively quoted. The let-
ter from the Savannah synagogue and
Washington's reply have equal power.
They, too, should be widely known:

Address from the Hebrew
Congregation of the City of
Savannah to the President of
the United States, May 6, 1789:
Sir, .. .
Your unexampled liberality
and extensive philanthropy
have dispelled that cloud of
bigotry and superstition which
has long, as a veil, shaded
religion — unrivetted the fetters
of enthusiasm — enfranchised
us with all the privileges and in-

Continued on Page 36

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