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August 25, 1989 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-08-25

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Learning Versus Rock Hurling


Editor Emeritus


ccusatory means have con-
tributed to the prejudicing of
Israel's status in human rights
and commitments to educational
Constantly spreading reports about
the closing of Arab schools in Israel's
administered areas and claims of
mistreatment of teachers and professors
in Arab schools of higher learning keep
adding to the multiplying hatreds.
Many circulated charges which
have received media notoriety are
reduced in a factual statement in Near
East Report. While this is a Jewish
medium and is the organ of AIPAC
(American Israel Public Affairs Com-
mittee), the facts made known must be
accepted with great seriousness. The
following is a detailed accumulation of
the status of the Arab school systems
under Israel's administration defined
by AIPAC under the headline "Schools
As Battlegrounds":
Despite its decision last
week to begin the phased
reopening of West Bank schools
and universities, Israel remains

under fire on the issue. But the
rationale for the shutdown, the
PLO's longtime campaign to for-
ment violence in the schools,
has received little attention from
the media.
Despite the intifada, nursery
schools, kindergartens and
most West Bank vocational
schools have remained open
because none of these have been
used to instigate violence. Gaza
schools have also stayed open,
because militant Islamic fun-
damentalists there use mosques,
not schools, to incite their
followers. "When this situation
[as in Gaza) exists in Judea and
Samaria, the schools there will
be re-opened?' Defense Minister
Yitzhak Rabin declared last
Israel has repeatedly offered
to reopen any school whose
principal will guarantee that it
will be used to educate children
rather than encourage rioting,
an Israeli Embassy spokesman
said. But educators wouldn't
come forward for fear of being
labeled "collaborators" — a vir-
tual death warrant — by the

PLO and its allies. Israel has
also met with similar dead-ends
in its efforts to negotiate the
terms of school reopenings with
West Bank village leaders.
Educational opportunities
have been greatly enhanced
since Israel began administer-
ing the territories in 1967. The
number of elementary and
secondary schools has increas-
ed more than 50 percent, from
997 in 1967 to 1,560 in 1988.
Women have been major
beneficiaries of the boom. In
1970, less than one-fourth of
women over age 15 had made it
through eighth grade. By 1986,
more than half had done so. The
percentage of women who
hadn't gone to school at all was
slashed by more than half, drop-
ping from 65.3 to 32.3 percent
during the same period. Before
1967, there was not a single
university in the West Bank; to-
day there are six.
Since the intifada began in
December 1987, the PLO used
the schools to turn children in-
to cannon fodder. Prominent
Palestinian journalist Daoud

Kuttab gave a glowing account
of this process: "In school,
demonstrations and stone-
throwing are part of a tradi-
tion?' Children, he says, par-
ticipate in such events by "play-
ing hookey en masse" and
"throwing stones at passing
Israeli vehicles:' "To hit an
Israeli car," Kuttab writes, "is to
become a hero:' He adds that
"schools are the natural place
for a demonstration to begin
because of the large number of
children gathered in one place."
(Journal of Palestine Studies,
Spring 1988).

According to Kuttab,
children ages 7 to 10 are often
"seen rolling tires to the middle
of the road, pouring gasoline on
them, and setting them afire."
The advantage of using children
that young, he says, is that
"since these children are under
the legal age, their capture does
not lead to a prison term. Eleven
to 14-year-olds usually put
"large stones in the road to slow
down or stop traffic" and attack

Continued on Page 45

A Millenium Of East European Jewry


eplete with every conceivable
function in peoplehood, indel-
ible religious functions, political
action, activism in the battle against
anti-Jewish bias, combine into a unified
identity that makes the East European
Jewish record a history all its own.
Out of it grew immensities
personality-wise. Biographies by the
scores are thereby appended to the ex-
periences recorded. Inner struggles are
as frequent as the battles against
bigotry. Literary qualities, folklore and
the emergence of great movements are
functions in the assembled story.
In the excellently researched an-
thological compilation, The Golden
Tradition — Jewish Life and Thought
in Eastern Europe (Jason Aronson
Publisher), Lucy S. Davidowicz shares
the imperishable records about 60 of the
most important and influential Jewish
personalities whose records of political
and literary activities magnify the

(US PS 275-520) is published every
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of August and the second week of
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Vol. XCV No. 26


August 25, 1989


Jewish roles of more than a century in
these assembled literary gems.
The mere mention of the
biographies and quotations by
Davidowicz will at once arouse fascina-
tion and a temptation to share the con-
tents, especially among the knowledge-
able who are aware of the history of the
recorded era. There are the earliest of
the Chassidic rebbes like Menahem
Mendel of Kotzk and famous labor
leaders like Leon Trotsky. The Labor
Zionist Yehuda Leib Gordon is
alongside Peretz Smolenskin, the noted
author of the Haskalah. Rabbi Israel
Salanter, who tried to conciliate the
rabbiniate with modernity, has a role in
the texts that include the great
historian Shimon Dubnow. Mendele
Moher Seforim, is here among the
creators of Yiddish literature, along
with Reuben Brainin who was eminent
in American Jewish literature and in
Zionist leadership.
Marc Chagall, Nahum Sokolow,
Ahad HaAm, Chaim Nahman Bialik,
Chaim Weizmann, Shlomo Zalman
Shnair, Zalman Shazar, Vladimir
Jabotinsky, Chaim Zhutlovsky,
Shmarya Levin are among the very
famous in the admired list.
The very referral to the names of
the many decades of dominant Jewish
thinking arouses a desire to trace the
movements with which they are align-
ed. Every personality also represented
an ideology. They were in the battle of
contrasting ideas. Chassidism and
Haskalah, Zionism and Bundism,
socialism and the assimilatory aspects
in life — these arise again as subjects
for Jewish studies thanks to the

research and chronology provided by
With the difficulty to utilize much
of the treasured herein in an all-too-
brief review it is urgent to indicate the
effectiveness of a scholarly introduction.
Davidowicz offers a historic analysis of
the numerous controversies, the con-
tributions toward them by the heads of
the movements involved, the disputes
that marked the differing ideas and the
aspirations of the functioning

'Before Haskalah and
Chassidism, rabbinic
Judaism had been more
worldly, more tolerant
and more responsive to
social changes. After the
Haskalah, rabbinic
Judaism became
conservative, inflexible
and repressive;
Chassidism, too, followed

There are many items to contend
with in this volume. There is the
folklore, the music of the masses
evidenced by Davidowicz. There are the
linguistics emphasized in the Zhutlov-
sky recollections which judge Yiddish
as a saving grace for Jewish survival.
It is in the religious disputes that
there are numerous attitudes of im-
pressive importance. The Davidowicz in-
troductory essay gives an excellent ac-

count of Chassidism, the Haskalah
movement, and rabbinical Judaism.
There is an evaluation of the
divisiveness among the religious.
Davidowicz has an important ex-
planatory note on the subject:
"Before Haskalah and Chassidism,
rabbinic Judaism had been more world-
ly, more tolerant and more responsive
to social changes. After the Haskalah,
rabbinic Judaism became conservative,
inflexible and repressive; Chassidism,
too, followed suit."
For an understanding of the refer-
red to developments, it is necessary to
read and compare the declarations in
the quoted texts in The Golden
While it is impossible to go into
more extensive detail, the variety of
biographies and texts of the per-
sonalities in this volume need em-
phasis. Therefore it may not be too sur-
prising that the one now mentioned is
Leon Trotsky. It is because the Com-
munist leader who refused to be judged
as a Jew and insisted that he was "a
social democrat only" now is brought to
light again by his grandson who has
become an extremely religious Jew.
The international section of the
London Economist recently published
this item:
Not much went right in the
life of Lev Davidovich Bronstein.
Things are going wrong still.
Like most Jews born in the
late 1880s in the "Pale of Settle-
ment," the small part of imperial
Russia where Jews were allow-
ed to live, Trotsky had to choose

Continued on Page 45

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