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March 09, 1990 - Image 54

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-09

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Continued from Page 2

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54 FRIDAY, MARCH 9, 1990


disgraced by him who has
won a gulden. Better he be
disgraced." So vehement
was his opposition to the
gambler that if the latter
were to lose his money and
require assistance from
charity, it was to be denied
to him.
Public calamities that
befell the Jewish communi-
ty were often considered
the consequence of, and
the punishment for, ex-
cessive gambling. In 1576,
in Cremona, three scholars
proposed a ban on gambl-
ing after a pestilence had
abated. They maintained
that the popular passion to
gamble was the main
source of all calamities
that had befallen the
Gaming in the synagogue
was not uncommon; a
sharp contrast was drawn,
however, between the
usual forms of gambling
and cases where the
primary motive was not for
personal gain. A multitude
of responsa cite instances
where the winnings at
games of chance were not
considered fruits of sin.
One of the clearest
statements was made by
Benjamin Slonik who dif-
ferentiated between gambl-
ing for private gain and
that in which the winnings,
even if only in part, went to
charity. He saw no viola-
tion in the latter case and
demanded full payment of
gambling debts to charity.
There were many in-
stances where the rabbis
and communities joined in
games of chance. One rab-
bi ruled that he who wins
at a lottery should pro-
nounce the blessing She-
Hecheyanu; should one
win together with a part-
ner, one must also add the
blessing ha-tov ve-ha-
metiv. It seems hardly like-
ly that any blessing should
be required if the winnings
were considered the
rewards of sinful acts. It
would thus appear that
Jewish law proscribes the
professional and com-
pulsive act of gambling;
frowns severely and con-
demns the occasional act
of gambling when indulg-
ed in for personal gain;
while occasional gambling,
where all or part of the
winnings go to charity, has
never aroused condemna-
tion and frequently even
has had the approval of the
Jewish communities.
These findings might
have bearing on the
modern controversy over
congregationally spon-
sored bingo and card

games organized to raise
funds to meet the tremen-
dous budgets of the
synagogues. Jewish
history and rabbinic
literature show that such
methods are not new.
Synagogues and com-
munities have indulged in
similar games in the past,
and the revenues have
been used to meet their
financial obligations. Rab-
bis not only did not frown
upon such acts but fre-
quently encouraged them.
The United Synagogue of
America at successive con-
ventions has, however, rul-
ed that bingo is a form of
fund-raising not to be per-
mitted by their congrega-
tions, the opinion being
that it is not in keeping
with the spirit of Judaism.
Results of the study and
decisions by the special panel
of the question of legitimizing
gambling in Israel will be
watched with keen interest.
Detroiters will be especial-
ly interested, such a proposal
having been defeated here
five years ago.
The gambling question has
sociological concern
everywhere. The study of its
aspects provide fascination
for courses of study even in
higher education.

The Media Bias:
At It 'Again'


Editor Emeritus


ault-finding seems, all
too often, a compulsive
media treatment of
Israel. The normal for all na-
tions becomes a morality
search for the Jewish state.
The latest example is the
manner in which the State
Department Human Rights
report is being treated. There
are many shocking revela-
tions in it, but Israel is singl-
ed out for criticism. Israel
could be found among the
noblest, but when there is op-
portunity to assail it, attack
is resorted to.
Jack Anderson, usually
looked to as friendly to Israel
wrote a column with the
headline "Human Rights
Report Irks Israel — Again"
immediately gives a regret-
table impression. Why not
take into account the Israeli
attitude? The State Depart-
ment report was greeted with
normalcy in Israel, as in-
dicated in the following from
the JTA:
Israel has accepted as
correct, "except for minor
inaccuracies;' the State

Department's annual
report on human rights
around the world, which is
once again critical of
Israel's treatment of
Palestinians in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip.
The report, mandated by
Congress and drafted by
Richard Schifter, the assis-
tant secretary of state for
human rights and
humanitarian affairs, says
that in 1989, the Israeli
Defense Force often did not
comply with its own
guidelines for treating
Palestinian insurgents,
resulting in "avoidable
deaths and injuries:'
He noted with satisfac-
tion that there was no
general accusation of tor-
ture as a means of inter-
rogation and that the
report states explicitly that
there is no policy of
violence and torture of

"The report has not
presented anything new
that I did not know before,"
he said. "The question is,
why are we forced to use
those unpleasant
The American Arab Anti-
Discrimination Committee
found the report too le-
nient and called for
Schifter's resignation.
Faris Bouhafa, a
spokesman for the group,
said Schifter "has an ob-
vious conflict-of-interest
problem" because he is

In Israel, by contrast,
Brig. Gen. Strashnov said
that, by and large, he has
"no problem with the
credibility of the report."
Speaking on army radio,
he said it amounts to a fac-
tual account of the situa-
tion in the territories, "ex-
cept for minor inac-
Palestinians also were
responsible for many
deaths in 1989, including
those of fellow Palesti-
nians, the report states. A
total of 128 Palestinians
were killed by their peers
for collaborating with
Israel, compared to 13 in
Schifter said that in re-
cent weeks, there had been
a sharp drop in Palestinian
casualties caused by
Israeli forces.
"If you look at the last six
to seven weeks, the in-
cidents of fatalities as a
result of actions of the
Israel Defense Force have
gone down by more than
half," he told the House
Foreign Affairs subcom-
mittee on human rights.

This is an example of the
reportorial humanism with
which Israelis confront
This is what we judge as
"normalcy." Yet the Anderson
column offered an appended
Let's judge the "again." The
Near East Report, the weekly
news analysis of the
American Israel Public Af-
fairs Committee, in a most re-
cent issue carried the follow-
ing under the headline "The
New York Times Does It
While the historic exodus
of Soviet Jews grows, the
New York Times continues
to look for ways to avoid
the story of the positive im-
pact the immigration is
having on Israel. In the
latest installment, Joel
Brinkley uses the Soviet
Jews' arrival as the hook
for a story on native
Israelis leaving the coun-
try (Feb. 11). Thus, a new
story that reflects well on
Israel is supplanted by an
old story that casts Israel
in a more negative light.
The following day, the
Times distorted Israel's im-
age by a different, but still
familiar method. A head-
line on page three read:
"Soldiers Shoot 2 Arabs in
Gaza." Meanwhile, on page
seven, the headline for a
story about Lebanon was:
"Beirut General Sends
Reinforcements to New
Front:' In paragraph four
of the story, the reader
learns 435 people have
been killed and 1,650
wounded since Jan. 30. In
less than two weeks, well
over three times as many
Lebanese died as Palesti-
nians perished all of last
year in the intifada.
This is an "again" not to be
ignored. The Times, perhaps
the least offensive of
newspapers with media bias,
provides something to irk


Pledges Curbed

Jerusalem (JPFS) — A ceil-
ing on donations by in-
dividuals to political parties
was finally passed into law.
From now on, donations will
be limited to $10,000 (20,000
shekels) a year — and
$20,000 in an election year.
The bill's sponsor said the
Knesset had for too long ig-
nored demands by successive
state controllers to legislate
restrictions on the size of
such donations.

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