Passage to Freedom has been a heavily debated subject during
the two months of the special campaign to help Soviet Jews emigrate
to the free world. The debate has centered on the emigres' destina-
tion: the United States vs. the State of Israel.
Should Jewish community funds be used to help the 90 percent
of the Soviet Jews who want to come to the United States? What
about the 62 percent of that number who have immediate family
here? Should more of our resources be used in Israel to enhance the
aliyah infrastructure and job programs to make Israel more inviting?
The debate intensified during Detroit's solicitation for Passage
to Freedom. Serious questions were raised, but the community was
not deflected from its immediate goal: raising $2.5 million toward
the United Jewish Appeal's target of $75 million to help Soviet Jews
As Detroit nears its financial goal, the job is unfinished. Are
we doing enough to see that Israel improves its aliyah process and
image among the Soviet Jews? Are we doing enough in Detroit for
those who have opted, for whatever reason, to resettle here?
Soviet Jews are coming in a steady stream and our responsibili-
ty does not end with fund-raising. Too many newcomers are being
settled in non-Jewish areas; too few of our Jewish institutions are
Fewer than 40 individuals have volunteered to be paired with
Soviet newcomers, to give an hour each week to make a new family
feel comfortable and provide them with an unofficial source of in-
formation about their adopted city.
Passage to Freedom was a critical step in the emigration pro-
cess, but many more steps need to be taken.
possibility must be faced that maybe no one outside of a handful
of blacks would have paid much attention to the murder of three
civil rights workers if they had all been black. The fact that two were
white brought home to the nation's white majority that the
murderous impulses of racism could afflict their own.
Jews were prominent in the civil rights movement because of
their keen sense of justice. Their long history, from the days of
enslavement in Egypt through the Holocaust and into the present,
of being targets of bigotry and genocide, gave them a oneness with
blacks. This was not just theoretical or academic. It was real, it was
visceral and, as Goodman and Schwerner learned one dark night
in the Deep South, it could be fatal.
The days when blacks and Jews joined hands together to sing
"We Shall Overcome" or rode together on Freedom Rides or gave
their lives seems long ago and very far away. The world for blacks
and Jews is not the same it was in 1964. In its place have come the
anti-Semitism of Louis Farrakhan and blacks' suspicions of Israel
and celebrations of the Palestinian cause. In its place have come
ponderings by Jews about whether blacks are, indeed, "grateful" for
their participation in the civil rights struggle and anger about blacks'
political and economic assertiveness.
Our response is in the fervent hope that there is a future to black-
Jewish cooperation. There is a future not just because there was
cooperation in the past. Precedents do not necessarily carry weight
in the pragmatic give-and-take of the world. But a future exists
because both blacks and Jews have a similar history — and, con-
ceivably, a similar fate. Because both are minorities and neither can
stand alone as long as racism is alive in this country.
There is also a future for some form of a black-Jewish alliance
because to do without one would mean that those who left Good-
man, Schwerner and Chaney to rot under a pile of Mississippi dirt
will, in the end, be the victors. And that would be a crime almost
worse than the original murders of the three young men.
Twenty-five years ago this Wednesday, three young civil rights
workers disappeared near the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi —
James Chaney, a 21-year-old black from Meridian, Mississippi, and
two white Jews from New York, Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael
Schwerner, 24. Forty-four days later, federal investigators found the
bodies of the three men buried under an earthen dam after having
been fatally shot.
Probably few instances of the civil rights movement of the early
1960s so shocked the nation as the murders of these three. White-
perpetrated lynchings had long been common among southern
blacks, as well as intimidation by shotgun, beatings and even castra-
tion. But here were two whites and one black united under a com-
mon banner of decency and courage, and they were slaughtered in
the coldest of blood by men, who it turned out, were led by
Philadelphia's sheriff and his deputy. Men in the pursuit of justice
were killed by those who had sworn to uphold it. Or maybe, in their
minds, they had merely sworn to uphold a way of brutal, fearful
racism and the terror that was its underpinning.
Given the long history of racial violence in America, the awful
Of Arafat Writer
Your interview (June 9) of
Yassir Arafat's biographer,
Alan Hart, didn't reveal one
side of the author that his
radio interviews in Detroit
earlier this month exposed,
namely, his bias against
On the two programs I
monitored, Hart complained
FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 1989
several times that what he
called the "Zionist lobby"
worked to prevent his book
from being published in the
He also made the ridiculous
claim that Israel has never
been threatened militarily by
her Arab neighbors.
Jewish Community Council
Regarding the May 26 let-
ter from fellow survivor Louis
Kay, "Strange Silence of Sur-
vivors," I think he is off base
in more ways than one .. .
Mr. Kay and some other ad-
vocates of bringing Soviet
Jews to the United States
make it sound like they will
end up in Israeli concentra-
tion camps. Israel is ready to
accept any Jew from any
place in the world who is
homeless .. .
I suggest that those Soviet
Jews who are frightened in
Italy, go to Israel immediate-
ly. There, I am sure, they will
not have to fear anyone .. .
I agree with the survivor
community that Russian
Jews should go to Israel.
Every immigrant strengthens
Israel. The great majority
who come here are lost to the
Jewish people. The survivors
know that if Israel existed
during the Holocaust,
perhaps most of our families
would have been saved in-
stead of being slaughtered.
I would like to ask Mr. Kay
to start a campaign among
the survivor community to
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