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December 14, 1990 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-12-14

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

crisis fail.

Calls for Patience

Meanwhile, on the polit-
ical left, as Jonathan Jacoby,
president of Americans for
Peace Now, said, "the peace
camp is split."
Perhaps the most unex-
pected pro-war voice has
been Michael Lerner's, the
editor of Tikkun, who served
a jail sentence for opposing
the war in Vietnam.

Mr. Lerner recommended
an international conference
to forge a comprehensive
Mideast peace and to
dismantle Iraq's offensive
military capacity. If that
fails, he said, the United
States should unilaterally
attack Iraq.
While "trembling with
disbelief" that he could favor
an action that would cost
lives, Mr. Lerner conceded
that he is "not an absolute
pacifist. There are moments
when it is justified for an in-
dividual or a country to act
in self-defense . . . Given
(Saddam Hussein's) military
aggression, and his very
credible threat to the State
of Israel, this is a moment
that justifies the use of
Roger Horwitz, co-chair of
New Jewish Agenda's Mid-
dle East Task Force,
dismissed Mr. Lerner's
scenario as "bizarre." While
opposing military action,
New Jewish Agenda backs
an international conference
to address only Persian Gulf
Of all Jewish organiza-
tions, perhaps the New Jew-
ish Agenda, the Jewish
Peace Fellowship, the
Shalom Center and Reform
Judaism's Commission on
Social Action, are most de-
terminedly anti-war.

Two weeks ago, the Com-
mission on Social Action
signed an anti-war state-
ment it had drafted with 18
other religious groups. It
charged that American
offensive military action
would "probably kill more
Americans than are now
hostages, ... destroy Kuwait
in order to save it, and ...
likely turn the oil fields into
oil burners for months to
The religious groups,
which included such "peace
churches" as the Friends
and the Mennonites, urged
that the crisis be settled by
direct negotiations among
Iraq, Kuwait and



Rabbi Marvin Hier:
Bomb now.

"organizations indigenous to
the region."
According to Rabbi Lynn
Landsberg, the associate di-
rector of Reform Judaism's
Religious Action Center and
a participant in the month-
long negotiations over the
interreligious statement,
original drafts called for
linkage between the Persian
Gulf and the Israeli-
Palestinian conflicts.
"All of the groups had to
bend to produce the final
statement," she said. "We
wanted a statement that was
pragmatic and useful."
The Jewish Peace
Fellowship approves of force
only if Saddam Hussein at-
tacks Saudi Arabia or Jor-
dan or mounts an invasion of
Israel through Jordan.
" The president's awful
rhetoric has convinced some
Jewish groups of the evil of
Saddam," said the
fellowship's president, Rabbi
Philip Bentley of Jericho,
N.Y. "But it is demeaning to
our memory of the Shoah
(the Holocaust) to call
Saddam Hussein another
Hitler. He's a lot of things,
but he's no Hitler."
And the Shalom Center
favors "unremitting" use of
economic sanctions. "Those
who say that economic
pressure cannot be long sus-
tained," claimed a. Shalom
Center position paper, "are
simply saying that they do
not have the patience to
keep sustaining it — but are
willing to sustain a long,
destructive war."

Arthur Waskow:
Fears worsened anti-Semitism.

Shalom's executive direc-
tor Arthur Waskow urged a
UN-mandated force to wage
non-combative, "aggressive
peace" to subdue Iraq. These
include jamming all Iraqi
civil and military radio
signals until Saddam Hus-
sein agrees to on-site UN in-
spections to determine that
Iraq is not developing
nuclear, biological or
chemical weapons.

Mr. Waskow is especially
troubled by the U.S. Jewish
community's "mistaken
view of what would be in
Israel's best interests."
Bombing Iraq, he said,
would bring "death and
mutilation not only to large
numbers of Iraqi civilians,
but also to Americans, Egyp-
tians, Israelis. It also risks a
massive disruption of the
world's oil supply, leading to
deep economic disasters in
the United States, Europe,
Israel, and Japan, and
famines in the Third

And occupying Iraq, he
said, "is likely to destabilize
Arab governments most
friendly to the United

Down the Slippery

Most Jewish organizations
and spokesmen agree that
Iraq must pull out of Kuwait
and be rendered militarily
impotent. What is in ques-
tion are not these ends, but

the means. Yet, a broader
issue is also at stake: What
kind of regional or world
order would emerge after a
Persian Gulf war?
Several Jewish leaders
dispute the conventional
wisdom that the United
States will be so indebted to
certain Arab states for join-
ing the multinational force
that it would force Israel to
agree to a settlement with
Palestinians. Bolstering this
perception were the United
States' five successful
delays, starting last Thurs-
day, to a Security Council
vote on a an international
peace conference on the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
After the Gulf crisis is set-
tled, said Mr. Siegman of the
American Jewish Congress,
Arab nations "propped up"
by American forces will con-
sider the United States "a
reliable superpower." Wash-
ington will then have some
rare leverage over Israel's
"Israel cannot be expected
to engage in a peace process
with hostile neighbors offi-
cially at war with it," said
Mr. Siegman. "After the
Persian Gulf crisis is
resolved, the United States
will be in a position to tell
Arabs that they have an
obligation to say to Israel,
`You settle with the Palesti-
nians and we will welcome
you to the region.' "
If Israel balks at peace
under these conditions, said
Mr. Siegman, "then peace
may be imposed by the

United States, the Soviet
Union and the European
community. It's clear that
any peace not initiated by
Israel will not be favorable
to it."
Ted Mann, chairman of
Project Nishmah, which
favors Israeli negotiations
with Palestinians, said that
if Iraq withdraws from
Kuwait and all its weapons
are not destroyed, then a
United Nations peace-
keeping force should remain
along Iraqi borders for "a
very, very long time. This
would put the region in
better shape than before"
the Iraqi invasion.
"The end result of this has
to be that the nations of the
world know that force will be
used to deter aggression,"
said Mr. Mann, former pres-
ident of the Conference of
Presidents of Major Ameri-
can Jewish Organizations.
"This is crucial now that
we're heading into a decade
with great possibilities for
civil war in eastern Europe
and the Soviet Union."
But there is a certain fear
underlying all this talk of
war and sieges and how
Israel will fare when — or if
— the smoke clears from the
Gulf. There is a fear that
war will linger, casualties
will mount, the level of
weaponry will escalate —
and Jews will suffer and be
There is a fear that some
Arab nations will totter
under the destabilizing
effect of the conflict — and
that Israel may enter Jordan
to prevent it from falling
into pro-Iraqi hands. There
is a fear that President
Bush's "new world order,"
which is being tested in the
Gulf, may prove more
elusive than he or any of his
advisers had imagined.
And, finally, there is a fear
that the jungles of Vietnam
may not be that far behind
us, even in the wind-driven
deserts of Arabia.
As the Washington repre-
sentative of a Jewish group
said, "The difference bet-
ween this and Vietnam is
that we got into that war on
the slippery slope of un-
awareness. We lost sight of
what we were doing, and
"The similarity is that we
see a way to get into a war,
and we're not sure if we see a
way to get out," he added.
"When you don't see the
light at the end of the
tunnel, you could be enter-
ing a cave." ❑

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