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October 19, 1990 - Image 37

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

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Continued from Page 1

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heard by Israel. Their voices
are important to Israel. Also,
it's important for American
Jews to understand that
Israel is going to make
mistakes, that there are
major problems within
Israel. But Israel is still a
growing and emerging
democracy. We need to work
out our differences with
Israel. But we need to do it
in a responsible way."
Southfield attorney Ken
Knoppow, the co-chairman
for Middle Eastern Affairs of
the New Jewish Agenda,
thinks that the responsibili-
ty for the prevention of
violence in Israel has to
come from within Israel
He said that as long as
there is no Israeli-
Palestinian peace, incidents
like last week's will just
keep on happening. The
responsibility, he feels, has
nothing to do with how
American Jews feel, but
rather how Israel's govern-
ment reacts to Arab and
world pressure.
"The root to all of Israel's
problems is its right wing
government and its poli-
cies," Mr. Knoppow said.
"The government is leading
Israel to a national suicide."
Mr. Knoppow also feels it's
an American Jew's duty to
speak up about Israel in
these situations, and if a rift
between the American Jew-
ish community and Israel
caused an eventual peace, it
would all be worth it.
Hymie Cutler of the Mich-
igan Committee For A Safe
Israel staunchly condemns
any criticisms of Israel, es-
pecially from American
Jews. Mr. Cutler believes
the Jerusalem incident was
part of a campaign or-
chestrated by Iraqi Presi-
dent Saddam Hussein.
If Mr. Cutler has any
criticism, it is for the United
States government for, as he
sees it, pressuring Israel into
allowing Palestinian
"troublemakers" to remain
free within the country. He
also believes there should be
a rift between the United
States and Israel, because
the U.S. "has turned Israel
into a vassal state under the
direction of a few people
within the State Depart-
But David Gad-Harf, exec-
utive director of the Jewish
Council, doesn't think last
week's incident is going to
draw the sort of controversy
within the Jewish commun-
ity that previous incidents of
the intifada have aroused.
He said American Jews are
still taking a wait and see
attitude, and by and large,

the instinctive reaction of
the American Jewish corn-
munity is to rally around
Israel before jumping to con-
clusions and criticizing it.
"We have heard no
criticism from any Detroit
Jews of Israel's actions," he
said, "but that doesn't mean
that disagreements are not
there. It just means that
they haven't yet risen to the
surface. I think that on the
whole I sense that Jews are
anxious how the incident
will affect the whole Gulf
crisis. We are concerned
about world opinion falling
into the hands of Hussein."
Mr. Gad-Harf believes
American Jews should have
a right to comment on what
happens in Israel. He wants
the Jewish community to
vigorously debate events in

"It's a mistake for
any of us to
romanticize Israel.
If we do, it would
lead to severe

David Gad-Harf

Israel, but he also wants the
results of those debates, be
they positive or negative, to
find a channel to Israel
"I do think that Israel does
listen," he said. "But that
doesn't mean that Israel is
going to continually act bas-
ed on what American Jewish
opinion is. Most American
Jews take a skeptical at-
titude towards Israel. It's a
mistake for any of us to
romanticize Israel. If we do
it would lead to severe dis-
appointment. Israel has to
make difficult choices, and
when it's faced with
belligerent neighbors, the
choices they make are ones
that are not often pretty. For
that reason, I think Ameri-
can Jews need to take a real-
istic attitude towards Israel
and recognize the tremen-
dous challenges it faces. We
need to allow Israel to make
But those mistakes have in
the past worried Jewish poli-
ticians in Washington, D.C.
During the height of the in-
tifida, Jewish represent-
atives were getting mes-
sages from pro-Israel gentile
colleagues that the opinion
among non-Jewish middle
America was changing
against Israel. Michigan
Senator Carl Levin told The
Jewish News that the
Jerusalem killings presents
a short-term problem for
Israel on Capitol Hill.

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