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January 29, 1988 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-01-29

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

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re

predicted by Lobenthal for
1988 because of "provocative"
press coverage of Israel. "And
the (public) responses to the
press coverage in letters to
the editor is bordering on in-
citement." He noted that "it
is easy to mount a simplistic
attack" in letters to the
editor, "but it is difficult to
mount a sophisticated
response."
Asked if Jews were being
targeted by anti-Semites
because of the American Civil
Liberties Union's December
efforts to remove nativity
scenes from the lawns of
governmental buildings, Lo-
benthal responded that "this
year the responses have been
more venal and vitriolic than
ever before.
"The reaction falls into a
different category" than anti-
Semitism, Lobenthal said,
but -the ACLU "was publicly
trashed for trying to maintain
the Constitution . . . The
American public has made a
complete retreat from civility
. . . and one could argue that
we are now in a new era."
A number of incidents in re-
cent months — and the reac-
tion to them — display the
change. Lobenthal mentioned
the Dean Steiner affair at the
University of Michigan, ra-
cial incidents at Ferris State
College and Lansing Com-
munity College, and remarks
by Jimmy "the Greek"
Snyder and the Los Angeles
Dodgers' Al Campanis to il-
lustrate his point.
He believes Dean Steiner
has been misunderstood on
"racism" and "elitism" at U-
M, but all the incidents and
the public's reaction show "a
loss of sensitivity and the
assumption that the loss is
correct."
People are beginning again
to display their unconscious
racism, Lobenthal believes,
and are "releasing pent-up
anger against blacks, Jews,
women, Orientals and others
who are asking people to stop
their chauvinism."
He laid some of the blame
at the feet of President
Ronald Reagan as a "popular
president who has reached
out to many who don't want
a leader constantly cajoling
them." John F. Kennedy
created a different moral tone
for the country, the ADL
director said, but Jimmy
Carter failed in his effort to
create a moral tone. "Perhaps
a new president will be able
to change the attitude."
In the meantime, the coun-
try's changing mood and a
shrunken government offen-
sive against extremist hate
groups is undermining the
achievements of the civil
rights movement in the

United States and "lowered
the barriers. We say we have
broken the back of the Ku
Klux Klan, but in some ways
that has released people" to
express their hatred."
Can the increased expres-
sions of verbal aggression
become violent aggression? "I
don't know the answer to
that," said Lobenthal, but he
expects an increase in the
statistics for 1988.
Michigan experienced a 100
percent increase in anti-
Semitic incidents in 1986
over 1985, and then a 100 per-
cent decrease in 1987. For the
year, Michigan reported 14 in-
cidents of anti-Semitic van-

People are
beginning again to
display their
unconscious
racism, Lobenthal
believes.

dalism — mostly graffiti.
There were no serious crimes
in 1987, while in 1986 there
were two arson attempts.
"A couple of years ago,"
Lobenthal said, "we had
several assaults on Jewish
kids. Michigan hasn't had
any of those in recent years."
Nationally, the ADL re-
ported a significant increase
in anti-Semitic incidents
after a six-year downward
trend. Some 694 incidents
were reported in 1987, com-
pared to 594 in 1986. Much of
the increase was attributed to
New York (207 incidents in
1987, 186 in 1986) and
California (137 incidents in
1987, 62 in 1986). Other
states with the highest
numbers of incidents in 1987
were Florida (64), New Jersey
(43), Illinois (36), Massa-
chusetts (27), Maryland (23),
Pennsylvania (22), Georgia
(15), Michigan (14), Min-
nesota (14) and Ohio (10).
Some of the most serious
vandalism incidents were at-
tributed to neo-Nazi "Skin-
head" groups in Chicago, San
Diego, Los Angeles and Mi-
ami. In addition, a synagogue
in Massachusetts and one in
California sustained major
damage in arson fires.
The ADL reported 78 ar-
rests were made in connection
with 58 of the 694 incidents.
Some 80 percent of those ar-
rested were teenagers, but the
17 persons (20 percent) who
were 21 or older represented
the highest perecentage ever
recorded by the ADL for
adults.

(See related stories, Page
13)

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