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August 10, 1990 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-08-10

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

EDITORIAL

Religious
Blinders

The Jewish community is being besieged
by a frightening and dangerous problem:
intolerance.
A new survey, conducted among sixth,
eighth and 10th grade-Jewish students in
the Detroit area by the University of Mich-
igan's Project STaR and the Wilstein In-
stitute for Jewish Policy Studies, shows a
growing polarization between Orthodox,
Conservative and Reform Jews.
The students revealed limited knowledge
about movements other than their own;
Orthodox students said their best friends
are only Orthodox, while Reform students
also pick Reform friends; and students
showed a marked discomfort about ex-
periencing the religious traditions, such as
Shabbat observance, of other Jewish de-
nominations.
The survey found that one of the factors
contributing to this dramatic polarization
is the lack of time Jewish schools devote to
the subject. Educators said that they
believe in the concept of klal Yisrael, one
Jewish people, but that they have little
time to teach it.
But what is more important for the
future of the Jewish people than the idea
that we are all indeed one, that our lives
and goals are inextricably linked, and that

our interest in and concern for our fellow
Jew is a primary tenet of Judaism?
Klal Yisrael is not an option; it is a neces-
sity. It should become part of any Jewish
school program as sure as the teaching of
Hebrew, Torah and Jewish history.
Next month will bring our new year,
Rosh Hashanah, and an important but
often neglected holy day — the Fast of
Gedaliah.

The fast recalls the man named by the
Babylonians as governor of Judah after the
capture in 586 of Jerusalem. His appoint-
ment was greeted with hostility by many
Jews, jealous political rivals. Gedaliah
governed only a short time before he was
assassinated by one of those rivals.
The rabbis were appalled that a Jew
could kill a fellow Jew. And so they
asserted that from that day forward Jews
would fast until they could learn to coop-
erate with and respect each other.

Have we learned nothing since Gedaliah?
Intolerance makes a mockery of the oft-
quoted notion of Klal Yisrael. We Are One
will continue to be an empty public rela-
tions phrase until our religious leaders and
schools make a conscientious effort to ad-
dress the problem.

The Iraqis'
Blitzkrieg

Last week's lightning-quick invasion of
tiny Kuwait by Iraq sent waves of fear
around the globe. It proved instantly that
our planet is still not safe simply because
American-Soviet tensions have eased. As
usual, anxieties, jealousies and ambitions
color most international relations. Of all
regions, the Middle East is probably most
susceptible to them.
The invasion gave some temporary solace
to Israel. For the moment, at least, it
wasn't on the firing line with Iraq, a coun-
try which just two months ago threatened,
if provoked, to incinerate Israel with
chemical weapons.
And the invasion will, at least for the
moment, reduce American pressure on
Israel to reach an accommodation with Pa-
lestinians.
The Iraqi blitzkrieg reminded the world
that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not
the only potential powderkeg in the Middle
East. For all their talk, the Arabs are not
one great brethren, united in religion,
politics and economics. Just as they have
mistreated Palestinians who have lan-
guished for decades in refugee camps and
just as they have tolerated the endless in-

6 FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 1990

tra-Arab bloodletting in Lebanon, they also
mistreat each other in the name of ambi-
tions to be czar of the Arab world. Egypt's
Gamal Abdul Nasser suffered from this
syndrome. So, too, does Iraq's Saddam
Hussein.

The invasion further illustrates that
Middle Eastern alliances can be erased in a
moment. Kuwait, which long bankrolled
Iraq, is now its victim. Iran and Iraq,
enemies during an eight-year war, now
admit they recently met secretly to coor-
dinate oil-pricing strategies. And Israel
has said that it will only get involved in
any Iraqi-initiated fighting if Iraq's forces
penetrate Jordan or Syria. This does not
suggest that an alliance is imminent bet-
ween Israel and Syria, the Jewish state's
implacable foe. But it does show the
vagaries of self-preservation if Iraq's troops
should threaten Israel's borders.

Ultimately, the invasion proves the Mid-
dle East's great volatility. Rarely are
things there what one wants them to be or
what one thinks they are. Instead, the one
certainty of the region is that it is always
in perpetual — and dangerous — flux.

OPINION

Iraqi Invasion Grist
For Opinion Mill

ARTHUR J. MAGIDA

Special to The Jewish News

C

olumnists and edito-
rial writers are hav-
ing a heyday with
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait,
trying to assess why the
incursion was anticipated
only by Israel, England's
Economist and New York
Times' columnist William
Safire. And trying to figure
out what the world should do
next.
Wall Street Journal
columnist George Melloan
said the West's only
reasonably reliable friends
in the Middle East are now
Israel and Turkey. But each,
he said, has "recent cause
for reservations about the
reliability of their western
allies." And Israel wonders
whether "Iraq, by attacking
another Arab country, .. .
has demonstrated to every-
one's satisfaction that it, not
Israel, is the greatest threat
to Mideast peace."
Also in the Journal,
novelist Mark Helprin, au-
thor of such books as Ellis
Island and Winter's Tale,
urged a quick military re-
sponse against Iraq. Helprin
was convinced that NATO
air and land forces could
handily destroy any Iraqi
forces that ventured into
Saudi Arabia. And Egypt
"could ferry well equipped
armored divisions across the
narrow Straits of Titan to a
paved Saudi road directly
opposite, or transit small
sections of Israel and Jordan
even faster."
A Washington Times edi-
torial observed that the
United States can neither
fight a land war against Iraq

nor engage in serious opera-
tions without help from our
western allies," and that "no
plan that relies on NATO,
Japan, 'moderate' Arab
states, Israel and Turkey is
immune from unanticipated
disasters."
And a New York Times op-
ed by Israeli journalist Yossi
Melman suggested that
Iraq's military threat may
force Israel to admit publicly

The West's only
reliable friends are
Israel and Turkey.

that it possesses nuclear
weapons. According to
Melman, Israel may change
its policy of clandestine
nuclear deterrence as many
Arab states stockpile
weapons of mass destruc-
tion.
Perhaps none of these ar-
ticles have the prescience of
a column by Morton Kon-
dracke that appeared in the
May 7 New Republic. Mr.
Kondracke advised the
United States to bolster
Iraq's potential victims —
Israel, Kuwait, and Saudi
Arabia — and hint at maybe
improving relations with
Iraq's "archenemies," Syria
and Iran.
The Bush Administration,
he continued, should also
warn Iraq that violating
America's international
agreements would provoke a
"concerted U.S. effort to ex-
pose, isolate and punish Iraq
in international forums."
"Right now," he conclud-
ed, "George Bush is trying to
soothe Hussein's paranoia
and temper his mega-
lomania. It's not likely to
work." ❑

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