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December 30, 1988 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-30

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

EDITORIAL

The Year That Was

In these past 12 months, two issues in particular have exposed
Jews' vulnerability and divisiveness — and their need to take the
initiative on certain matters.
These two issues are the "Who Is A Jew" controversy and for-
mal discussions between the United States and the Palestine Libera-
tion Organization. The first matter has made many Diaspora Jews
rethink their relationship to Israel. If Israel regards our rabbis as
inauthentic, say some Reform and Conservative Jews, why should
we be as loyal and committed to the Jewish state as we have been
in the past?
This may lead some of us to question what it means to be Jewish.
lbo many of us have confused Judaism and Israel, blurring the
distinctions between commitment to the Jewish State and devotion
to our religion. The danger for those in the Diaspora who define
themselves as Jews because of their loyalty to Israel and their pride
in it is that when Israel disappoints them, they feel alienated as Jews.
American Jews must recognize that while their religion and their
nationalistic devotion to Israel can strengthen each other, they are
not — and they should not be — one and the same.
Also, while the new government in Israel may have defused the
Who Is A Jew issue for the moment, it would be foolish to pretend
it has gone away. Now is the time for rabbis of all denominations,
primarily in North America, to agree on a procedure for conversion
that could be adopted by all. No easy task, this will require much
good will and compromise. But it is absolutely necessary to preserve
Jewish unity.
The other burning issue at year's end — the opening of formal
discussions between the PLO and the United States — has made some
Jews question not their allegiance to Israel, but the wisdom of some
of its ways. Israel was not expected to jump for joy as Yassir Arafat
went through his rhetorical three-ring circus in Geneva. But it did
not react with any new initiatives of its own, either. To official Israel,

it was business as usual. By affirming Israel's Palestinian policy of
the last four years — namely, a refusal to consider negotiating with
the PLO, ever — the new Labor-Likud coalition made for neither good
public relations nor good diplomacy.
We do not expect such issues as Who Is A Jew? and What Is A
Mideast Peace? to be resolved in the coming year. A mere 12 months
is too short to settle these very thorny issues. But we do hope that
1989 brings new initiatives from Jews everywhere regarding these
matters, and an openness among Jewish leaders, here and in Israel,
to explore these dilemmas with intellectual honesty rather than
knee-jerk negativism. The very explosive issues will not disappear.
If not addressed, they will only fester — and bring even greater di-
visiveness among Jews, and greater isolation for Israel.

LETTERS

Swedish Reception
Is No Surprise
The Swedish reception of
Yassir Arafat surprised many
Jews. How could this
enlightened nation give such
a warm reception to this ter-
rorist? How could the nation
which sheltered Danish
Jewry during World War II
act so callously.
However, the Swedes are
fairminded to a fault. Any
opinion, any person who
reaches Swedish shores
receives the same kind treat-
ment. German war industries
were heavily damaged by
Allied bombing during the
1940s. The German govern-
ment turned to Sweden .. .
Recently, a Swedish
historian discovered yet
another "humanitarian" act
of the Swedish government.
As the Soviet army advanced
into the Baltic states, Nazi
collaborators fled to Sweden.
Once on neutral shores,
Swedish authorities placed
these "refugees" in special
camps under heavy security
cover. Over the next several
years, these Baltic Nazis left
Sweden for Latin America
under diplomatic cover. There

6

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30, 1988

were even a few who were
granted Swedish citizenship.
Is it any wonder the late
Swedish prime minister, Olaf
Palme, who was assassinated
by Palestinian terrorists,
should be "honored" by a
Palestinian terrorist?
Should it surprise anyone
that Swedish peace activists
organized a meeting between
five Jewish "leaders" to
discuss the just settlement of
the Palestinian problem?
Fairmindedness is a virtue,
but some nations overdo it.

Zev Davis
Natzrat 'Mit, Israel

Redefining Issue
Of 'Who Is A Jew'
Since time immemorial,
scholars have discussed the
Jewish role within Judaism.
If one wants to inquire "What
is a Jew?" consult the many
books written on the subject.
However, should one want
to take a more active role in
deciding through definition
the question of "Who is a true
Jew?" disregard those books
that remind us of our diverse
and rich heritage, and teach
us the meaning of
benevolance and freedom.

Instead, pick up any book
written about the Crusades.
Or, better yet, just ask your
local Nazi.

Lloyd Wedes
Berkley

Withholding Funds
Aids Israel's Enemies
A recent article stated that
three Jewish communities,
Atlanta, Boston and Pitt-
sburgh, threaten to
reevaluate their donations to
Israel should the "Who is a
Jew" amendment to the Law
of Return become statutory.
Such press publicity could
not have been timed more
propitiously to aid and abet
Arafat in his evil designs,
while simultaneously woun-
ding the morale of a solitary,
heroic Israel let down by the
world for the Nth time.
If any group or individual
anywhere is considering
denial of funds, that is their
right; what is advantageous
to the . PLO are related public
announcements.
Before such financial deci-
sions are concluded, perhaps
individuals concerned might
consider: the effort to rebuild
the nation, beginning with

the Russian-Jewish pioneers
of the 1880s; the Holocaust
survivors who needed Israel,
and those who make aliyah
today; the families of all
heroes living and dead, in all
of the wars since 1948; and
the Jewish youth in uniform
who live in imminent danger
now.
Finally, we may ponder on
Israel's value to each of us, as
a healthy, financially and
militarily secure, self-
confident nation, inspiring us
all as our spiritual and
cultural resource.
Advocacy is a two-way
street, and by no means sole-
ly a mater of dollars and
cents. There is something we
can all give, to Israel at no
cost: moral support.

Martin H. Sable
Wisconsin Coalition for Israel
Milwaukee

Standards Of
Conversion
In your issue of Dec. 16, you
quote Miriam Huffstutter
that her experience
"underlines the need for one,
universally recognized stan-
dard for conversions." Had
Ms. Huffstutter taken the

trouble of ascertaining the
facts before engaging in
general slander of the Conser-
vative rabbinate, she might
have learned that the facts
are exactly the opposite of
what she claims.
On numerous occasions in
the past decade, recognized
leaders of the Conservative
and Reform movements have
offered their readiness to ac-
cept a universal objective
standard for conversion.
Under this arrangement, any
rabbi of any denomination
who would agree to observe
these standards would have
his conversions recognized by
the government of Israel for
the purpose of the Law of
Return and in other corn-
munities in the Diaspora

Continued on Page 10

Let Us Know

Letters must be concise,
typewritten and double-
spaced. Correspondence
must include the signa-
ture, home address and
daytime phone number of
the writer.

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