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December 15, 1989 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-15

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

EDITORIAL

The New Zionists

T

wo distant events occurred this week that refocus attention on Zionism
and aliyah. In Miami Beach, Detroiter Sidney Silverman was elected na-
tional president of the Zionist Organization of America. In the Detroit
area, Israeli shlichim based throughout the United States met to compare notes
and map strategy to increase the number of American Jews who will move to
the Jewish state.
These events, 1,500 miles apart, illustrate the 50-year-old debate within
American Jewry. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, what is
the role of Zionists in the United States? How can one be a Zionist without mov-
ing to Israel?
Sid Silverman, a past president of the Detroit District of the ZOA, has an-
swers to some of the questions plaguing American Jews. His program during his
two-year term calls for reorganization of the ZOA, with strong support for ac-
tivities that combat Arab propaganda in the United States. The college cam-
puses and Jewish students' unpreparedness to deal with Arab disinformation
will be a primary focus.
Silverman wants to expand a pilot ZOA program on four college campuses in
the New York area into a nationwide, 50-campus crusade. The need is un-
disputable, especially in view of recent events at Wayne State University and
the University of Michigan involving celebrations of "Palestine Independence
Day" on Nov. 15 and a year-long series of articles and editorials in the U-M
Michigan Daily.
The definition of Zionism has been expanded since 1948. Unable or unwill-
ing to make the commitment to move to Israel, Diaspora Jews nonetheless have
remained strong supporters of Israel.
The shlichim have a dilemma in dealing with this situation. America has
one of the lowest rates of aliyah of any Jewish community in the Diaspora.
America, the land with streets paved with gold, has presented problems of a
different nature than what most Diaspora communities have been accustomed
to: American Jews over the last 30 years have had to fight assimilation, not
persecution.
Has the time come for Israel, and its shlichim, to recognize the compromise
that American Zionists and the rest of the Jewish community have made?
American Jewish support, rather than aliyah, may be easier to swallow right
now because of the impending wave of immigration to Israel from the Soviet
Union.

Boat People Redux

S Name on the governments of Hong Kong and Britain. And shame on all
who have ignored the latest plight of the so-called Boat People of Viet-
nam.
After traversing some of the worst seas in the world in boats that, under less
pressing circumstances, one would barely use to cross a pond, 44,000 Boat Peo-
ple made their way to Hong Kong in the last 18 months. There, they assumed
they had a haven from the repressions of the Vietnamese government. But now
the British colony has begun forcibly repatriating the Vietnamese back to the
country from which they fled.
The exodus in reverse is expected to continue until all 44,000 are in Viet-
nam. But the Hong Kong government has no guarantee that Hanoi will not
punish or persecute those who return. As the Hong Kong director of OXFAM,
the international relief organization said, "At the moment, the bottom line with
the (Hong Kong) government appears to be to get an agreement where boat peo-
ple can get out of the plane without being shot."
That agreement is neither comforting or humane. The bottom line of Hong
Kong's bottom line is heartless callousness. Callousness has also been the
response of most western governments. Aside from the U.S. government's con-
demnation of the repatriation as "odious," few western governments have
followed suit. And where is the outcry from American Jewish groups, who know
all too well about the deadly implications of remaining silent.
The fate of the new boat people should not be ignored, for that would also be
ignoring the lessons of the Holocaust.

6

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1989

INTi M
I [ OWN S
siNINICait6 IWO VAS NOW-
13ur i've Ger A Mai Cf-- MT" )

CMG TO A IVIL HERE

I COMMENT I

Lights Must Suffice
Until Temple Is Built

Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum

Special to The Jewish News

T

he eight-day festival of
Chanukah, which
begins Dec. 22, com-
memorates the rededication
of the Holy Temple, the Bet
Hamikdosh, in Jerusalem in
the year 165 BCE, following
its pagan defilement by the
Syrians. With the destruc-
tion of the resplendent
Herodian temple by the
Romans in 70 C.E., the focus
of Chanukah observance in
the Diaspora inevitably
shifted to the "miracle of the
cruse of oil," and the Fes-
tival of Lights.
Since the time of King
Solomon's temple, which
was constructed about 1000
BCE, the Bet Hamikdosh
was the dramatic national
and religious focus of
Israelite unity. The Roman
destruction in the first cen-
tury rendered the temple
more symbolic than real in
Jewish consciousness.
But with the reconquest of
Jerusalem and the Temple
Mount by Israel in the 1967
war, a preoccupation has de-
veloped among mainly tradi-
tional Jews to "rebuild the
Temple speedily in our
days."
There are fundamental
differences of halachic views
among Orthodox Jews as to
whether contemporary Jews
have a right to rebuild the

Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum
is international relations
consultant to the American
Jewish Committee and is
immediate past chairman of
the International Jewish
Committee for Interreligious
Consultations.

Temple before the Messiah
arrives. Nevertheless,
groups of Israeli traditional
Jews are preparing seriously
for the construction of "an
intermediate temple" before
the Messianic era.
Clearly, a reconstituted
temple would trigger off
major internal conflicts bet-
ween traditionalist and
modernists in the Jewish
community. Instead of
restoring the ancient glory
of national unity, it could
become a cause for further
polarization.
Unquestionably, it would
have massive consequences
in the Moslem and Christian
worlds. The Moslems speak
of launching a jihad, a holy
war, should their Al Aksa
Mosque become threatened
by a Jewish temple. Fun-
damentalist Christians are
thrilled by the idea of the
reborn temple, since that
would fulfill their theologi-
cal precondition for the Se-
cond Coming.
While I have neither heard
nor seen a response from the
Vatican or the Catholic
religious world as yet, I
would imagine a rebuilt
temple in Jerusalem would
not cause them rejoicing. A
renewed Jewish temple,
raised in glory and with
panache, would be the death
blow of that ancient Chris-
tian belief of the "wandering
Jews" punished by God.
A truly brilliant daily and
weekly Jewish temple ser-
vice, with or without
sacrifices, would place
Jerusalem front and center
in the religious universe,
rivaling Rome, Constan-
tinople, and Mecca. 0

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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