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September 15, 1989 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-09-15

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When Churchman Gives Credence To A Lie


Editor Emeritus


hen one of the most important
and responsible newspapers
The New York Times, finds it
important to resort to the dispute under
the headline "A Polish Cardinal's Sur-
ly Sermon," it is most challenging to
churchmen as well as parishioners. The
reference was to the developing dispute
over the convent near Auschwitz. That
editorial summarized the controversy
and the summation merits quoting. The
NYTimes stated in part:
World War II was
catastrophic for Poland, and for
the Jews of Europe. Yet Jozef
Cardinal Glemp's insensitive
and untimely remarks last
weekend will do little to bring
two suffering peoples together
— and could well drive them
Cardinal Glemp, Poland's
Roman Catholic Primate and
the Archbishop of Warsaw, ac-
cused Jews of stirring anti-
Polish feeling by objecting to a
convent at the site of the
Auschwitz death camp — a place
of extraordinary significance
for Jews. The question whether
Auschwitz is the proper place
for a convent is not easily
answered; Jews themselves are
Words matter; words hurt.
The Cardinal had no warrant to
echo ancient prejudices. He ad-

vised Jews not to talk "from the
position of a people raised
above all others." To this he add-
ed the gratuitous warning to
Jews not to "spread anti-Polish
feeling" by using their "power"
in mass media "that are easily at
your disposal?'
The Times editorial may have been
too kind to the cardinal. In his sermon,
Josef Cardinal Glemp, the Roman
Catholic Primate of Poland, said:

The Carmelite sisters living
next to the camp at Oswiecim
wanted, and want, to be a sign
of the solidarity among peoples
that embraces both the living
and dead. Do you, esteemed
Jews, not see that your pro-
nouncements against the nuns
offend the feelings of all Poles,
and our sovereignty, which has
been achieved with difficulty?
Your power lies in the mass
media that are easily at your
disposal in many countries. Let
them not serve to spread anti-
Polish feelings.

There is an implication here that
Jews control the press, that we
dominate over the media. This has been
among the worst accusations. We had
cause for concern over treatment of
Jews, and now Israel, by misleading and
misinterpreting commentators. The
Polish churchman's revival of anti-
Semitism demands condemnation.
Fortunately, Cardinal O'Connor of
New York did not let it go unchalleng-

ed. Therefore, the sanctity of truth is
not besmirched.
That the aggravating confrontation
is far from finished becomes apparent
with the entrance of Solidarity leaders
into the dispute. It has become much
more than a mere Jewish issue, which
now embraces worldwide Jewish resent-
ments. It may have inflamed into a
Solidarity versus Church matter. Could
it be as extreme as the headline in the

`Words matter; words
hurt. The cardinal had no
warrant to echo ancient

New York Times op-ed piece, Sept. 1,
published under the headline: 'A Par-
ting for Solidarity and the Church'? In
this article, Abraham Brumberg, editor
of "Poland: Genesis of the Revolution,"
had this to state on the developing
Cardinal Glemp personally
was never very popular among
opposition circles in Poland. Oc-
casionally, he came under at-
tack for trying to placate the
regime by urging Solidarity to
moderate its anti-Communist
stand. Yet criticism was general-
ly muted out of a concern that
it might play into the hands of
the regime.
The Cardinal's admiration of.
Poland's prewar chauvinistic
and anti-Semitic National
Democratic Party, his rancorous
complaints that Solidarity was

infiltrated by "Trotskyites" (an
unmistakable code word for
"Jews") and similar pro-
nouncements elicited denuncia-
tions from groups of intellec-
tuals — but not from Solidarity
All told, conventional
wisdom held that Cardinal
Glemp is "politically inept," that
his choice of words was often
"unfortunate," but that his views
were not representative of the
episcopate as a whole, and that,
in any case, political expedien-
cy dictated caution and
The situation is no longer
the same. The Communist Par-
ty is in full retreat, and although
it is trying by hook and crook to
gain a larger presence in Mr.
Mazowiecki's new Government,
its days are clearly numbered. It
can no longer depend on Soviet
aid, either political or military;
its ranks are steadily depleting
and even the "nomenklatura" —
the hundreds of thousands of
Government bureaucrats — will
desert it, once its patronage
system crumbles.
One would have to be stupid to
overlook the horrible memories of
Polish prejudices. It is now referred to
as "classical anti-Semitism." The
Auschwitz monastery quarrel has add-
ed to it.
The sooner Pope John Paul II acts
to correct the blunder, the better off
inter-faith relationships will be. D

Arab World: Indifferent Or Blind To Reality?


constantly repeated query is
directed at the Arab world, with
its richly powerful areas and
large populations: why is no concern
shown in the growing calamities? Why
the inactivity in forcing a peace settle-
ment on Lebanon? Why unconcern in
matters involving the poverties and
emergence of self-made refugee pro-
blems? Why the failure to encourage
fellow Arabs to have direct negotiations
with Israel?
Some pointed questions are asked
by the widely syndicated columnist
Mike Royko. He is puzzled that an im-
mense Arab continent acts as if little

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September 15, 1989


Israel were endangering the security of
all of them. The facts he has ac-
cumulated seem to be completely ig-
nored. Here is how he posed his
numerous questions:
If I look closely at the map
and squint my eyes, I can find a
country that has about 800
square miles. That's Israel. To
give you an idea how small that
is, you could take about 40
Israels and put them together
and the whole thing would still
be smaller than Texas. There
may be counties, even ranches,
inTexas that are bigger.
Little New Hampshire,
where just about everybody gets
a handshake from a politician
during presidential primaries, is
bigger than Israel. So is Ver-
mont. In fact, we have only four
states that are smaller.
Then consider the popula-
tion: about 4.4 million. There are
many cities that have more peo-
ple. New York is much bigger. So
are London, Istanbul, Bombay
and Tokyo. You could put three
times the population of Israel in
Mexico City. So we're talking
about a mere speck on the map.
But if you want to talk big,
just unsquint your eyes and look

at some of the countries near
Israel — those that have been
trying to squash their tiny
neighbor for the last 41 years.
Syria, nine times as big with
three times as many people;
Iraq, 20 times as big with 17
million people; Iran, 80 times
bigger, with almost 50 million
Put that part of the world
together and there are millions
of square miles with a popula-
tion bigger than that of the
United States. And most of
them, at one time or another, in
one way or another, with guns,
tanks, terrorists or oil money,
have tried to squash a country
that isn't as big as Vermont.
You would think that with
more than 3 million square
miles of land — probably more,
but I'm not that good at math —
and 200 million-plus people,
they wouldn't make such a fuss
about what amounts to a tiny
sliver of real estate and fewer
people than live in many of their
cities. But instead, they've spent
the last 40 years making
themselves look like idiots by
unsuccessfully trying to wage
war on this itsy-bitsy country.

They didn't wait long. The
day after Israel was first
established as a state, the Arabs
invaded. They expected little
trouble overrunning so few vic-
tims, only 800,000 at the time. In-
stead Israel beat them back,
making the Arabs look like
some of the most incompetent
warriors in history.
But they kept trying. Again
in 1956, 1967 and 1973. And as
Winston Churchill might have
said, never have so many had
their butts kicked by so few.
There is nothing secret about these
figures. Yet the geographical area call-
ed Israel is begrudged existence. The
moment the Hebraic name is pronounc-
ed, all the states just listed by Royko
create a unity of enmity, although few
in that Arab multiplicity are even on
friendly terms with each other.
The world community is aware of it
yet contributes to animosities whenever
the venom against the Hebraically
named state is mentioned.
Royko concludes his expression of
shock over the combined Arab world
aim to gang up on a silver state by say-
ing in his important column:

Looking back, the Arabs

Continued on Page 44

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