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October 19, 1990 - Image 1

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-10-19

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OCTOBER 19, 1990 / 30 TISHREI 5751

Special Report — The World Vs. Israel

Judging Israel When Times Are Tough


Assistant Editor


hat happens when
Israel's image goes
bad? While the
community of nations

focuses its condemnation on
Israel, Detroit's Jewish
leaders are wondering out
loud what sort of public
stance they should be
Do they criticize Israel and
run the risk of hanging "dir-

ty laundry" out to dry, giv-
ing the Jewish state's
enemies reason to believe
that Jews are in dis-
agreement? Or do they open-
ly discuss Israel's actions
during last week's tragic
confrontation that resulted

in the death of over 20 Arabs
who threw stones at wor-
shippers at the Western
Rabbi Norman Roman,
president of the Michigan
Board of Rabbis and spiri-
tual leader of Temple Kol
Ami, said that American
Jews should react with a
great deal of confusion and
"On one hand, we admit
that there was a tragedy in
Jerusalem," Rabbi Roman
said. "And our whole men-
tality as a people should be
one we get from the Torah
when the Egyptians were
swallowed up by the Red
Sea. In other words, we
might have been correct in
defending ourselves in this
case, but God is asking how
dare we claim any victory or
celebrate when his children
are dying."
"On the other hand," he
continued, "We wonder at
the lousy public relations of
the Israeli government. The
government is refusing to
sanction any United Nations
investigating team because
in their mind if the U.N. is
already condemning us, why
should we allow them to in-
vestigate us?
"But why do these things
within Israel keep on hap-
pening?" he added. "Why
doesn't Israel understand
our pain as American Jews?
They are pained, but we are
pained as well, but we aren't
allowed to express our pain
because it might be perceiv-
ed as a rap against Israel."

The American Jewish
community is redefining its
center of Jewish identity, ac-
cording to Rabbi Roman. He
said American Jews largely
still love Israel, but they are
not getting the same kind of
pride from the Jewish state
they once had.
Rabbi Daniel Polish, spiri-
tual leader of Temple Beth
El, said support for Israel
doesn't mean support for all
its actions. He said at a re-
cent meeting in New York
he attended with several
members of the Israeli
Knesset, he was surprised to
learn that the Knesset
members were more accep-
ting of criticism of Israel
than he was.
"American Jews have a
very hard time being able to

cope with criticism of Israel
and they have a hard time
criticizing Israel," Rabbi
Polish said. "Of course it
was wrong for the Arabs to
throw stones; that's an awful
thing. It will turn out that
the Israeli border police did
react improperly by using
deadly force. And it will
probably turn out that the
Arab attack was
premeditated. But there was
clearly a mistake made by
the Israelis.
"Also, I think it's a
mistake not to allow the
U.N. in to investigate. It's
short-sighted and it makes
no sense by any standards.
And there have been times
when American policies and
Israeli policies pull in diff-

A special report on
reactions and

Page 40

erent directions. As Jews we
don't need to feel torn in
half. We need to talk hon-
estly about what position is
right. And I think Israel is
making a series of bad
mistakes by not cooperating
with the U.N."
Sharona Shapiro, exec-
utive director of the Detroit
branch of the American Jew-
ish Committee, said when a
tragedy happens within
Israel, especially one that
seems to bind the world
against it, then it is up to in-
dividual Jews to gather as
much information as they
can and then question Israel.
She said American Jews
need to understand that by
calling Israeli represent-
ative bodies such as the
Israeli embassy or con-
sulates, they are creating an
awareness that the Israeli
government needs to under-
Ms. Shapiro added,
however, that individual
Jews should not go into the
public arena with their feel-
ings towards Israel unless
they feel certain they can
hold their own with their
public statements.
"It's not the direction
American Jews should take
by going public," she said.
"American Jews need to be

Continued on Page 38

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