Pro-Israel Empathy Record: Are Loyalties Fading?
ewish history is like a mirror
of world history. Now there is
a testing period in which the very
small Jewish state of Israel is to retain
the encouragement of the few friends
who have applauded her truly great
achievements in a 40-year period of
trials and agonies that could not in-
terfere with immense progress.
In science and literature, in arts and
crafts, in academia and rescuing of
human beings, Eretz Israel — the Land
of Israel — set high standards in the
human sphere. There has been ap-
plause for it. Yet, there are recurring en-
mities, and the current menacing
period raises the question whether
there is a continuing sincerity in the
relationship with the nations.
In the years of testing, the Jewish
supporters and defenders of the state
are the dedicated loyalists. It is with
depressing hesitancy that one is now
compelled to ask whether there is a
fading in these loyalties.
It is much more important, in a
time of stress, to know that the family
— the Jews themselves — are devoted.
Must there be submission to doubts
about the family's loyalty?
When the kinfolk do not even visit,
it flourishes into agony.
That's one of the sorry occurrences
in a period that needs defense and a
generation of adherents to the con-
fidence in survival.
An important, very friendly,article
in the Wall Street Journal raises the
question of devotion — a term with em-
phasis on loyalty.
Jews especially must aovid thinking
of Zionism and Israel as dying causes
and as obligations to be abandoned.
Vermont Royster, editor emeritus of the
Journal, chose to pay compliments to
the Jewish cause July 5 under the title
"The Dream That Was Israel?' It's a
commendable article, with an excellent
analysis of past experiences and tragic
threats to the very life that led to the
successful fulfillment of the Zionist
dream. Compliments do not justify an-
ticipation of collapse or ruination. In
the conclusion to his essay, analyzing
current challenges to Israel, Royster
Israeli leaders are caught in
a trap. If they give the vote to all,
they will soon be in a minority
in the nation they founded. If
they do not, Israel will not be a
true democracy. Paletinian
unrest will grow, requiring ever
more oppressive measures. To
give up some territory as the
price of peace would betray
those who died to gain it — and
might not bring peace anyway.
It was a beautiful dream,
this Israel, and it's sad to find it
stained on the morrow of its
Such an expression of admiration
appended to treatment of facts and pro-
blems is like reciting an adoration that
spells kaddish, and this is just what
REACHING THE 40th STEP
SHAPING A NATION
must be avoided and rejected at all
costs. Especially in the Jewish family,
on a global scale, abandonment of hope
must be averted.
Therefore there must, at all costs,
emerge proper confrontations whenever
and wherever there are threats to Israel
and to Jewish hope for protection of the
Typical in the manner in which
truth and reality are besmirched is the
sensationalized case of Mubarak Awad.
The former Jerusalemite Arab who
The Glory Of The Shaliach Mitzvah
here is a noble Jewish tradition
that is glorified as shaliach
mitzvah. I wish I knew its origin.
It has been in practice for a long time.
It is the custom of giving a coin — no
matter how small — to a relative or a
friend who is about to leave on a tour
overseas. In the main it has been given
to tourists to Israel.
Shaliach mitzvah implies two ideas.
The first is the expectation that the
recipient will use the coin to help so-
meone in need at the destination. The
second is the implied obligation of the
recipient to return with a report of what
was done with the coin. The idea is the
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FRIDAY, JULY 29, 1988
July 29, 1988
wish and hope primarily that he or she
who accepts the coin feels duty-bound
to return safely to report on the mission
called shaliach mitzvah — messenger of
It was just before either our 1956 or
1957 trip to Israel that I wrote a piece
about the shaliach mitzvah ideal in this
column. The Monday after its publica-
tion, Al (Abraham) Borman, who was
the co-founder with his brother Tom of
the Farmer Jack chain of supermarkets,
came to my office, then in The Jewish
News building on Seven Mile Road in
Detroit, and said, "I want you to be my
shaliach mitzvah," and handed me a
check for $150.
In Israel we secured the cooperation
of our friends, Aryeh Zimuki
(Rozhinkes) and his wife, both members
of the editorial staff of Yediot Achronot.
We found a family, escapees from
persecution in one of the Arab coun-
tries. There were 13 children in two
poorly furnished rooms with beds made
out of wooden cartons. A five-room
apartment was provied for them with
several beds and some other necessities
to fulfil their needs.
Al Borman fulfilled his mission and
we both earned mitzvot.
This recitation and recollection are
especially timely first to ask whether
the tradition is practiced, and in rela-
tion to Israel to be horrified with the
became an American citizen was
ordered to be deported, a decision that
was upheld by the Israel Supreme
Court. Commenting on this case is an
editorial by U.S. News and World
Report, its editor, Mortimer D. Zucker-
man, in an article entitled "Does Might
Make Wrong?" exposed the claimant's
assertion that he advocated non-
violence by stating:
His definition of nonviolence
would have appalled Martin
Continued on Page 42
concern that perhaps there are not
enough tourists left to serve as
emissaries, as shalichim, to glorify the
mitzvot. The reason for this Jeremiad
is the report from Israel that hotels are
empty and restaurants have very few
tourist diners, and the added
calamitous reports that reservations for
trips to Israel are being cancelled by the
It was only a few months ago that
the record of tourism to Israel totalled
more than a million a year. Is it possi-
ble that American Jews have been
driven into panic by rock-throwing
threats to the security in Gaza and
Judea and Samaria?
Aside from these unfortunately van-
dalized areas where hatred creates
tragic conditions for residents and area
administrators, all previous tasks con-
tinue in autonomous Israel. Children
attend classes in their schools un-
molested. Universities are functioning.
Scientists are making progress. Artists
are creative. Musical events draw record
crowds. Business goes on. Life goes on
There is great concern. An election
will soon be held in as democratic
fashion as the American. People will go
to the polls with grave concern over the
developed conditions. But there is not
as much fear over well being in Israel
as there is in many American com-
munities, including Michigan's.
The builders of Zion, the chalutzim,
also carried guns for self-protection.
Now, as in the early years of state-
building, there is a craving for the peace
that must lead to amity between the
contending peoples. But even in most
critical times, Jews considered it a
sacred duty to go on pilgrimages to
Jerusalem. It is prescribed in the
prayers of the three major festivals
(Passover, Shavuot and Succot. That du-
ty has never been abandoned.
Has the present generation of
American Jewry panicked? Therefore
the duty of those who are viewed as
Jewish leadership to exercise an appeal-
ing invitation to loyalty earned with a
share in state-building far more com-
pelling than the philanthropic genius.
Tourists are not asked to become
chalutzim — pioneering settlers — and
that would be so valuable! What is
needed is the encouragement, the com-
forting knowledge that the people of
Israel are not abandoned.
The ideal that spells shaliach mitz-
vah now assumes a new role. It is not
only the compelling sentiment in
travelogues. It is a duty that equates
with loyalty in peoplehood. Travel to
Israel again, fellow communities, and
restore idealism to the shaliach destin-
ed for mitzvot.