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June 29, 1990 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-06-29

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

PURELY COMMENTARY

Indictments: Important For Israel's P.R.

M

aligning Israel has
become a habit in
many quarters.
There has developed the
trend to distort fact and to
make the spreading of bias
habitual. In most respects
this tendency is as much anti-
Jewish as it is anti-Israel.
There is a responsibility,
therefore, to keep emphasiz-
ing the truth.
It is not only in the media
that we find fault. When the
spreading of misinformation
that emerges as outright un-
truth comes from churches
and men of the cloth, it is
especially reprehensible.
Therefore; when the lies are
branded, the resentment
against churchmen should
not be ignored.
There is a particular expose
of unfair charges from five
churchmen in a letter that
was published in the Detroit
Free Press.
Denouncing the falsehoods,
Uri Bar-Ner, Israeli Consul
General in Chicago,
presented facts repudiating
the spreading of lies by
revealing the true conditions
of Israel's protection of
religious freedoms.
The Consul General wrote:
An incident did happen
at the St. Paul Anglican
Church in Jerusalem, not
in Acre, on Dec. 11, 1987.
Damage to the church was
limited to superficial
damage to the main door,
the wardrobe and a
number of books. The
police arrested a man who
was sentenced to 40
months' imprisonment.
The mayor of Jerusalem
personally handed over a
check for 22,000 shekels
($11,000) to cover the entire
cost of repairs.
The Baptist Church in
Jerusalem on Narkis
Street was burned down
due to arson in October
1982. The mayor of
Jerusalem vehemently
deplored the arson and
opened a special account
for contributions, and
many contributed. The
church is now under
reconstruction. The police
have made a major effort to
find out who committed
this crime, and they con-
tinue to do so. So far no one
has been arrested.
St. Saviour Anglican
Church in Acre: The arson
attempt took place on
April 12, 1987. Prayer
books and a few wooden
benches were burned. The
police have not yet found
the arsonist.
The Hassan Bek Mosque

36

FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 1990

in Jaffa stood empty after
Israel's war of in-
dependence in 1948. Dur-
ing discussions through
the 1980s, disagreements
and arguments took place
within the Muslim com-
munity in Jaffa about what
to do with the mosque. The
Waqf (the Muslim Public
Property Trustee) was
ready at a certain point to
sell the mosque to the Tel
Aviv municipality. Others
within the Muslim com-
munity of Jaffa objected. It
is suspected that these
elements set fire to the
mosque on July 25, 1988.
Since the mosque was not
sold to the Tel Aviv
municipality, the latter has
been working for the last
few years to renovate the
mosque in full agreement
with the Waqf.

There is a
responsibility to
keep emphasizing
the truth.

The mosque in Bureen
Village near Nablus
caught fire on Jan. 29,
1990. The police and civil
administration conducted
an investigation that deter-
mined that the center of
the fire was inside the mos-
que in the library. During
the fire, the doors were
closed and no signs of a
break-in were found. Since
it was impossible to deter-
mine the cause of the fire,
the Israeli government pro-
vided a sum of money to
help renovate the mosque.
This is the type of defense
of Israel that fairminded peo-
ple must encourage. There
are two organizational groups
that do it consistently:
CAMERA, the Committee for
Accuracy in Middle East
Reporting in America; and
FLAME, Facts and Logic
About the Middle East.
Hopefully, these two will con-
tinue to function with the
widest support and
encouragement.
There are defensive efforts
frequently available from
friends in the field of com-
munications. The facts from
Israel must not be ignored.
An editorial in the Jewish
Post, for example, did not
hesitate to criticize White
House and State Department
blunders. A statement from
that editorial charged:
In an unprecedented
departure from White
House norms, and with a

resounding slap in Israel's
face, the President of the
United States has sent per-
sonal condolences to the
families of the victims of
the Rishon Lezion
massacre as well as to the
kin of those killed by the
Israel security forces while
putting down the subse-
quent riots. Mr. Bush's ac-
tion could not have been
simply an expression of
personal grief; it could on-
ly have been a calculated
act of policy. And the
policy is new.
White House con-
dolences to families of
rioters are interpreted as
American approval for
throwing bricks through
the windows of moving
vehicles and incinerating
bus passeners with fire
bombs.
In the same statement,
the administration also
urged Israel to exercise
"maximum restraint." No
such exhoration was
directed to the intifada
leaders, to the PLO or to
the Arab states.
There are so many ultra-
critical condemnations of
Israel, including U.S. official
voices, that criticisms should
also be treated with respect.

The most recent demands
sensationalized in rather ac-
cusatory terms by the State
Department caused anguish
for Israel's friends. In the in-
terest of truth and justice,
Israel's defensive tactics
should not be resented.
Israel's defense should be
welcomed with dignity.
An analysis of the prevail-
ing conditions appeared in a
two-column editorial in the
Wall Street Journal. In its
defensive evaluation of facts
demanding justice for the
Jewish State the editorial
reaffirmed the newspaper's
militant appeal for fair action
by asserting:
The claim that the new
government will oppose all
plausible chances for
peace stretches credibility.
Why should Israel not
want peace? Its constant
state of siege, most recent-
ly manifested in a foiled
Arab raid aimed at crowd-
ed Tel Aviv beaches, is
costly both to the national
consciousness and the
Israeli economy.
Until the recent raid, the
Bush administration was
able to pretend not to
notice more than 18 at-
tempted terrorist attacks
on Israel by groups
represented on the PLO's

executive committee. It can
no longer ignore the Arafat
double-cross. The ex-
perience may provide a
dose of realism.
We remain convinced
that these troubles will
continue until Israel, not to
mention its neighbors, sup-
plants socialism with a
free-market economy. Peo-
ple, after all, whether
Israeli or Palestinian, have
to work, and the current
economic structure of the
region offers sparse
incentives.
Secretary Baker may yet
decide that he must
reinsert himself in the mid-
dle of Israel's difficulties
with its unfriendly
neighbors. It might be the
better course if he made
good on his threat to
withdraw awhile.
The American Genius em-

phasizes the right to
criticism. It also recognizes
the duty to correct
misunderstandings. Presi-
dent George Bush and
Secretary of State James
Baker proved their alignment
with both aspects of the
American Genius in their
firm treatment of the PLO
leadership.

In many respects this is also
an indictment of unfairness
in treating Israel's struggles
to reach even the minimum
approaches to amity.

Therefore, there is need for
continuing commitment to
prevent fabrication of
falsehoods and the constant
placing of obstacles to
cooperative tasks between
Israel and the United States,
and, in the process, between
Israel, the Jewish people and
the Arab world. ❑

Marcus

Continued from Page 2

called to serve the B'nai
B'rith Hillel Foundation at
the University of Michigan,
where he was awarded a
Ph.D. degree in 1932.
In 1949, Dr. Heller was
named Director of Restitu-
tion of Jewish Cultural
Reconstruction, Inc., the
agency charged with
restoration of cultural pro-
perty seized by the Nazis
from Jewish people and
Jewish institutions. From
headquarters in Frank-
furt-am-Main, Dr. Heller
handled the distribution of
the more than 300,000 con-
fiscated volumes, among
them many rare and
valuable, which the Nazis
had assembled for use in
anti-Semitic institutes they
hoped to establish after
their victory.
In 1951, Dr. Heller served
the only liberal Jewish
congregation in India, the
Progressive Union of Bom-
bay. He maintained a life-
long interest in the B'nai
Israel of India.
Dr. Heller was appointed
to the faculty of Hebrew
Union College — Jewish In-
stitute of Religion as
Visiting Professor of
Jewish Ethics and the
Philosophy of Religion at
the New York School in
1952.
After years of rabbinic
service, Rabbi Heller ex-
pressed his interests in
business as one of the
founders of the
predecessor to the United

Brands Corporation, and
also of the West Indies In-
vestment Company in the
U.S. Virgin Islands.
Dr. Heller was deeply
concerned with the sur-
vival of the Jewish people,
and with the transmission
of the Jewish religious and
cultural heritage. His life
reflected his abiding in-
terest in philosophy, in
Jewish thought and in
learned scholarship. His
widespread knowledge of
Judaism was encyclopedic
in its breadth.
By the terms of his Last
Will and Testament, he
established the Dr. Ber-
nard Heller Foundation for
the Benefit of Jewish
Education and for the
welfare of the Jewish peo-
ple in Israel. To date, the
Dr. Bernard Heller Foun-
dation has distributed over
$5,000,000 for these
purposes. He frequently
referred to himself as a
mere trustee of his wealth
for Israel.
Such is the fascinating
story about a remarkably
devoted personality. Dr. Ber-
nard Heller is surely
remembered with deep
respect by U-M students who
benefited from his guidance.
Now another man of distinc-
tion, Jacob Marcus, who
shared roles with him on the
Hebrew Union College facul-
ty, surely has deep reverence
for the prize in Heller's name.
These are academic recollec-
tions worth perpetuating. Cl

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