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November 09, 1990 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-11-09

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A Legacy Of Violence

Rabbi Meir Kahane aroused strong emo-
tions in people, be they fervent supporters
or bitter opponents. A charismatic man
and fiery speaker, he was able to tap into
Jewish fears, paranoia and guilt. His
public career began in Brooklyn with his
Jewish Defense League, initially an effort
to protect Jews in tough New York neigh-
borhoods. In 1971, he moved to Israel
where he founded the Kach Party, ad-
vocating the transfer of Arabs out of Israel.
Even Rabbi Kahane's critics, who labeled
him a demagogue, credited him with iden-
tifying problems that others had swept
under the rug. It was Rabbi Kahane who
spoke out about a response to black, anti-
Semitic militancy in New York in the late
1960s. And it was Rabbi Kahane who
analyzed Israel's demographic problem
and discussed her choice between Zionism
and democracy regarding the increasing
Arab population in the Jewish state.
But Rabbi Kahane's solutions were based
on simple answers to complex problems. "If
I were Prime Minister of Israel," he once
said, "not one Arab would be killed on the
West Bank. Not one Arab would be on the
West Bank." He was a racist, asserting
that Arabs were multiplying "like dogs
and rabbits" and must be expelled before
they overwhelm Israel and destroy her
Jewish character. Along the way, he bitter-

ly attacked Jewish leaders, in America and
Israel, as self-hating Jews, and asserted
that his views were espoused by the Bible.
But he ignored the side of Judaism that
advocates caring for the stranger in one's
Rabbi Kahane espoused violence and the
need to take the law into one's own hand.
He lived by the sword and, tragically, that
is how he died. His death at the hand of an
Arab assassin has made a martyr of him to
his supporters, only furthering their
hatred of Arabs and their belief that no
Arab can be trusted. Already there are
calls for revenge, and the cycle of violence
is certain to continue.
But we suggest that violence is not the
answer, that it only serves each side as a
way of excusing bloodshed against the
Rabbi Kahane often quoted the talmudic
statement, "If one comes to slay you, slay
him first." He was, of course, justifying his
harsh views regarding the Arabs. But such
sentiment, in turn, could have been his
assassin's motivation.
While we mourn the death of any Jew,
particularly one with Rabbi Kahane's
commitment and zeal to Jewish survival,
we suggest that the only possible key to
peace is through reason and understanding
rather than fomenting hatred.


Why Worry About
Pagan Meaning?

Why agonize over Hallo-
ween? It's a benign occasion
for costume parties and can-
dy. None of the celebrants
gives a philosophical thought
to its souls and ghosts, graves
and witches. Nobody recalls
the extraordinary role which
the pumpkin played in an-
cient Roman fertility rites.
Let's take those customs
and make them Jewish. The
Oct. 27 Lidrah was Lech
Lecha, when Abraham
became displaced and had to
develop relations with his
new neighbors. So do the
Halloween celebrants go from
door to door, entreating the
goodwill of their neighbors.
Let's eat pumpkin seeds
and candy corn seeds to com-
memorate God's promise to
make Abraham's seed as in-
numerable as the dust of the
So much for Halloween;
how about Christmas? Well,
let's use its symbols to
enhance our observance of
Shabbat Shemot, which falls
on Jan. 5 in 1991. In this
Sidrah, we read about Moses'
early life and the story of the
Burning Bush. Let every



Jewish house this season be
decorated with a bush twinkl-
ing with electric "flames."
Some will add a baby Moshe
cradled in the gentle arms of
Pharaoh's compassionate
daughter, with her atten-
dants standing to witness the
touching scene.
Why worry about the Chris-
tian or pagan "meaning" of
these symbols? In themselves,
they have no meaning; if we
wish, we can use them to
celebrate the drama and
pathos of our Jewish heritage
— and with a little luck, we
can buy what we need at a
post-season discount!

Dr. Joe Lewis
Oak Park

Not Involved
In 1982 Dispute

The article in your paper of
Oct. 26 did an injustice to
Michael Cohen, the owner of
New Orleans Kosher Meat
Market since June 1987.
While there was a dispute in
1982 between the former
owner of the meat market
and the Vaad, Michael Cohen
was not a part of that dispute
and was never accused of

Perhaps it's about time that
the disputes between factions
of some of our Orthodox rab-
bis be put to rest. This is caus-
ing too much dissension
within the Jewish communi-
ty and it is long past time
that this be stopped.

Harry Levitt
Business Agent, Detroit Area Retail
Kosher Meat Dealers Association

Article Forgot
The Third Grade

I'm wondering why you
didn't put any third graders
in the Soviet Jewry article in
the news (Oct. 26). We also
help with Soviet Jewry at
If you find out why you
didn't think of the third
graders, please tell me. Okay?

Shira Traison
3rd Grade, Hillel Day School

The Stunning Logic
Of Critical Clergy

Anti-Zionist Christian
clergymen really dazzle me
with their stunning logic
(`Critical Clergy," Nov. 2). Im-
agine, telling The Jewish
News that it's the church's

very guilt in the deaths of our
Six Million that now gifts
them with the "concern" and
"courage" to damn the sur-
vivors in Israel!
One correction for your ar-
ticle. Rev. Gepford complains
— he says he is "concerned"
— that no Jewish organiza-
tion has ever responded to
his views on the Middle East.
On Tuesday, May 29, in
response to what Rev. Jim
Lyons calls the "pure PLO
propaganda" in the Gepford-
authored attack on Israel, the
Free Press printed the follow-
ing letter:
"I didn't know that Chris-
tians had an ecumenical
linkup to the High Islamic
Conference of Jerusalem, but
I'm not surprised that it's us-
ed to admonish the Jews. To
those Detroit-area 'concerned
Christian leaders' who sign-
ed the April 25 open letter to
Israel, 'Protect all places of
worship,' let me say: you guys
have got a lot of gall.
"Excuse me, concerned
Christian leaders, but when
you posture to preach morali-
ty to Israel, do you remember
how your churches and
church leaders kept their con-
cerned mouths shut
throughout the Holocaust?
Do you recall the inquisitons,
expulsions and desecration of
Jewish books and holy places
that churches organized?
"How dare you imply that
Israel hasn't done everyting
possible to protect your Chris-
tian holy sites, when your
`ecumenical' Mission to Pro-
tect the Holy Places of
Jerusalem desecrates a
hallowed Jewish cemetery?
Are you also concerned that
the Temple where Jesus wor-
shipped is lost beneath the
mosque that Islam, claiming
precedence, built smack atop
"I don't mean to stir up old
animosities, but your holier-
than-thou letter, falsely im-
plying that Israel doesn't fair-
ly report or justly punish

religious vandalism, has me
seething. Whatever evil stirs
in the world, you concerned
leaders sure don't miss a
chance to chastise Israel. I
wonder if your Jewish boss
won't, in good time, judge you
just as harshly."
The Free Press garbled my
grammar slightly, and I sent
Rev. Gepford a correct version.
I sent it to him in my capaci-
ty as a director of Americans
For a Safe Israel and chair of
the local organization, on AF-
SI stationery, with a long in-
formational cover letter. He
never responded.

Michael Dallen
Americans For a Safe

Of Halloween

So what's the big Hallo-
ween dilemma? The day has
lost its religious significance
even for Christians (with the
unhappy result that a lot of
Jewish kids participate), so
its ubiquitous symbols aren't
very offensive. Compare that
to Christmas, whose ec-
clesiastical nature is as in-
escapable as its trappings.
We in the Orthodox com-
munity find Oct. 31 easy
enough to ignore, despite its
tendency to come up to the
door and ring the bell. Near-
ly all the celebrants figure
out that a home with an unlit
porch and no jack-o'lantern
has no candy to offer. And just
living in a neighborhood
where so many families share
our point of view severely
limits the number of poten-
tial trick-or-treaters in the
first place.
We don't need to escape to
the mall or to a restaurant,
and believe that planning a
synagogue dinner around the
holiday confers Jewish
recognition that it doesn't

Elliott Shevin
Oak Park

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