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May 04, 1990 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-05-04

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

EDITORIAL I

Rallying For Freedom
For The Soviet Jews

They wait, in transit camps or still in the
Soviet Union, to come to freedom. They wait
in fear of the anti-Semitism that is having a
resurgence in the USSR - and in anticipation
that the Kremlin will continue to yield to
pressure from the West to let these people go.
They wait, knowing that Jews around the
globe, and, especially in the United States
and Israel, care deeply and passionately
about their plight.
These are the Jews of today's Soviet Union:
A people watching with great caution as the
ethnic hate and fury long indigenous to
Russia revives while Mikhail Gorbachev
loosens his government's grip on its citizens.
These are the Jews of today's Soviet Union:
Seeking freedom from fear - and freedom to
be themselves. These are the Jews of today's
Soviet Union: Long-accustomed to travails
from the KGB and now bracing before threats
from nationalist groups.
These Jews will be one of the main focuses
of Sunday's Walk for Solidarity at the Maple-
Drake Jewish Community Center. It could be

construed as the public starting point of
Operation Exodus, the effort by the Jewish
Welfare Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
to raise $16.5 million to aid the flood of Soviet
Jews now leaving the USSR. This is part of a
national effort to raise $420 million in the
next three years.
Present at the walk, with a central focus of
Israel's 42nd anniversary, will be community
and political leaders, and recent Soviet
emigres. But most important will be the
presence of every concerned person, Jew and
non-Jew, in the Detroit area.
Ultimately, the issues of Israel and of
Soviet Jewry are not issues of religion or of
ethnicity or of politics. They are issues of the
human soul, of its yearning to be free. Beyond
all the slogans concerning these Jews who
live behind what until recently was called the
Iron Curtain, there is one important, over-
riding factor: These are individuals who wish
to live beyond the pale of fear.
Let these Jews know you care. Be at the
walk on Sunday.

Shame In Jerusalem:
Shattering The Status Quo

Given that Jews have a right to settle
anywhere in Israel, the case of the 20 Jewish
families who tried to make their home in the
Christian sector of the Old City of Jerusalem
is one that displayed insensitivity and poor
judgment.
The issue was compounded when the
government in Israel first denied any in-
volvement and then admitted that it con-
tributed almost half of the funds for the $4
million venture.
Surely the fact that the settlers chose Good
Friday Eve to move into the building owned
by the Greek Orthodox Church, in the Chris-
tian Quarter, was meant to provoke, and it
did.
No doubt the settlers were out to prove that
Jews have the right — and the wherewithal
— to live anywhere they choose in Israel.
From the stance of the settlers and of Israel's
Likud Party, which is heading a caretaker
government, there may be a compelling logic

to this premise. But the stability of
Jerusalem is predicated on a respect for the
status quo, and the settlers' venture sought
to shatter that status quo.
To Judaism, Christianity and Islam,
Jerusalem is a sacred city, with relics and
history that transcend the moment. Israel
must continue to maintain the sensitivity
and tolerance it has shown to other religions.
What is needed, now that under court order
150 Jewish settlers have left the Greek Or-
thodox hospice, is for the Shamir government
to declare unequivocally its intention to
respect all religious traditions throughout
the Old City. Without a quick, tactful and
sincere retreat, more damage may be caused
than what has already transpired: To Jews'
relations with Christians and Moslems; to
Israel's relations with a host of nations, espe-
cially the United States; and to American
Jews' faith in the conscience and common
sense of Israel.

LETTERS

Who Has The 'Right'
To Influence Policy?

PAGE ONE: American
Israel Public Affairs Com-
mittee's Tom Dine has
the temerity to attempt
to influence Israeli poli-
cy; American Defamation
League's usually sensible Abe
Foxman has the audacity to
call on Israel to "repudiate its
policy" and the American
Jewish Congress has the gall
to be "appalled," when Jewish
tenants (provocateurs refer to
them as "settlers") sublease
(supporters of the Palestine

6

FRIDAY, MAY 4, 1990

Liberation Organization say
"occupy") a building on the
wrong block, and everyone at
your paper seems to think
these handwringing galut
apologists are behaving ap-
propriately (appropriately for
jellyfish, perhaps)?
PAGE TWO: Rabbi
Menachem Schneerson of
Lubavitch answers a private
telephone call from a member
of Knesset asking for his ad-
vice; that MK freely chooses
to follow that advice, and your
editorial page, which ought to
know better, indulges in a
name-calling spree usually

reserved for PLO butchers of
children.
Any sensible person would
have to conclude that one is
permitted to attempt to in-
fluence the Israeli govern-
ment from overseas — unless
one happens to be Torah
observant. Those who have
made a religion of socialism
and atheism can have
political parties and rights;
those who make a religion
from Torah should have
neither. Once again, anti-
religious bias is the basis for
what gets newspaper space
and how the stories are told,

instead of logic, reason and
investigation.
Both the editorial condem-
ning Rabbi Schneerson and
the reactions of spineless
American Jewish self-
appointed leaders to Jews liv-
ing in east Jerusalem are rub-
bish, plain and simple, and
ought to be regarded as such
by anyone with a grain of
sense.
Israel has long since legal-
ly annexed east Jerusalem,
but as any attorney can tell
you, rights not asserted can
be legally lost. Especially
because of President Bush's
recent statements regarding
the status of Jerusalem,
Israel should be vigorously
asserting the legal rights of
Jews to live in every part of
the city. One asserts those
rights by living there. This
may be uncomfortable for
American Jews, but that
discomfort is a small price to
pay. Would we rather lose
Jerusalem?

Sol Lachman
Huntington Woods

Soviet Jews Don't
Owe Meir Kahane

Washington Post journalist
Robert Friedman has a
bizarre conspiracy theory,
claiming that Soviet Jews
who left owe their freedom to
former Jewish Defense league
founder Meir Kahane and
Israeli Prime Minister Yit-
zhak Shamir.
The emigration of the
Soviet Jews is an integral
part of a universal movement
on behalf of human rights
that enveloped the world in
the 1950s and 1960s. This
movement stretched from
Northern Ireland to Africa,
and included the Civil Rights
movement in the United
States. The Soviet press in-
formed the population in
greatest detail how the ac-
tivities of Martin Luther
King brought the sense of
dignity and self-awareness to
the American blacks. The
Soviet Jews were asking

themselves the same ques-
tions as Martin Luther King
and his associates. So, when
the Six-Day War took place
and a feeling of pride swept
the Jews everywhere, Soviet
Jews were ready to defy the
empire.
The activities of Israel,
American Jewish organiza-
tions, the successive ad-
ministrations and the Con-
gress were only capitalizing
on this national awakening
and were a sideshow of the
main battleground between
the Soviet state and the Jews.
Nor would have the Soviet
Union succumbed to external
pressure if it did not feel the
need to get rid of the
troublesome elements.
The activities of Kahane
and the Jewish Defense
League were of little, if any,
significance in this equation.
It can be said that the Soviet
propaganda greatly enjoyed
and overplayed any acts of
harassment toward the Soviet
officials in the United States.
Unfortunately, the JDL did
not deter the Soviet anti-
Semitic authorities from
persecuting the departing
and remaining Jews. It even
presented rare chances of
cooperation between the
Soviet and American
authorities against the JDL.
The emigration of hundreds
of thousands of Soviet Jews
also was a side effect, not the
major factor, of detente. Quite
to the contrary, it began in
1968, the year of the invasion
of Czechoslovakia, picked up
in 1979 and then in 1988
when nobody heard anymore
about the JDL.
Not even the most ardent
supporters of Rabbi Kahane
went so far as to assert that
the Soviet Union let the Jews
go because of the JDL. It is
necessary to distinguish bet-
ween the creators of history
and those who are peripheral
accessories.

Isaac Tarasulo
Director, American Association
of Russian Jews, Bethesda, Md.

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