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January 25, 1991 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-01-25

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

PERSIAN GULF CRISIS

DETROIT

Crimes Of Hate
Confront Chaldeans

Christian Iraqis in this area are feeling
the wrath of a local backlash
because of war in the Gulf.

PHIL JACOBS and
ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM

t last week's security
presentation for Jew-
ish community
leaders, an FBI spokesman
said that while the Jewish
community needs to take
extra security precautions,
the Chaldean community
should be at an even higher
level of alert.
Rosemary Anton, a Chal-
dean resident of West
Bloomfield who owns an
East Detroit business, would
agree. A Chaldean friend of
her's, who also owns a busi-
ness, had a customer tell
her, "If our boys start com-



ing home in body bags, I'm
coming to get you."
Detroit area Chaldeans
and Arab Americans are
concerned about their
security and to some degree
their relations with the Jew-
ish community as well.
There are approximately a
quarter of a million people of
Middle Eastern descent liv-
ing in this area. Approx-
imately 90,000 are Chaldean
—Christians from Iraq and a
smaller group from Syria.
"I've lived here for 40
years," Ms. Anton said. "I've
worked hard all of my life.
I've sent my children to col-
leges. I pay my taxes like
everyone else. Yet, a lot of
people look at us like we're a
bunch of camel jockeys.

Oak Park Couple
Heads Back To Israel

PHIL JACOBS

Managing Editor

I

t's the sirens that get to
Michelle Platt.
In Israel, there are
sirens that introduce the
coming of the Sabbath.
There are much louder
sirens that sound during
Yom Hashoah (Holocaust
Memorial Day) and Yom
Hazikaron (Memorial Day
for service men and women
who died defending Israel).
But then there are the up
and down war sirens.
"Even on the memorial
days, you make sure that the
long continuous siren
doesn't go up and down,"
Mrs. Platt said. "I don't even
like to talk about the sirens.
They give me chills."
Niether the sirens nor the

war, however, were enough
to keep Mrs. Platt and her
husband, Harold, from
returning Monday to their
home in Jerusalem. The
former Oak Park residents
completed a month-long visit
with a son and a daughter
and grandchildren who still
live in the Detroit area.
Back in Israel are four other
children and 17 grand-
children.
All the Platts wanted to do
on Sunday was finish pack-
ing and get ready to go
"home."
But with CNN news com-
ing over their family room
television and a local TV
crew visiting then re-
visiting, neighbors coming
to bring tzedakah and letters
to deliver to Israel, and
grandchildren wiping cot-

"We're here in America
because we love it here," she
continued. "If we wanted- to
be over there with Saddam's
army, we'd be there. I can
tell you that we worry about
bloodshed, because we know
that the more American
bloodshed, the worse it will
get here for us. We're very
worried about it. There's
some rotten apples every-
where."
Ms. Anton is active in Jew-
ish-Chaldean relations. She
participates in Building
Bridges, a Temple Israel-
Chaldean Community . Cen-
ter project bringing the
two communities together in
an arena of friendship. She
said that when she heard
that Tel Aviv was hit by
missiles, "I died inside. I
have many Jewish friends
and I care for them and their
feelings."
Detroit businessman Ken
Zair said that the Chaldeans
are "getting it from both
ends." -
He said they are sad to see
their homeland destroyed,
and they are concerned for
their friends and relatives in
Iraq. Yet, he continued,
Chaldeans support Presi-
dent Bush and the United
States.
"We're all Americans,"
Mr. Zair said. "Yes, we're
against the bloodshed, but
we're part of this country

tage cheese from their chins,
the Platts were finding it
even difficult to get upstairs
to their suitcases.
Mr. Platt said he realizes
that the situation in Israel is
"stressful, but he said that
even facing war, he feels
safe in Jerusalem.
"I don't think Hussein is
crazy enough to turn his
missiles on Jerusalem where
we live," Mr. Platt said.
"The missiles have proven
so inaccurate that he'd end
up killing Muslims and
destroying Muslim holy
places."
Mr. Platt also said that
many of his friends here
think he is crazy to go back
into what could be a war
zone. But he said that he
tells them that he's not
scared, just apprehensive.
Mrs. Platt wishes the en-
tire threat would just go
away.
"You have to believe that
God is in charge here," she
said. "To have two missiles
fall in Tel Aviv and kill no
one is a miracle. I just hope
the miracles continue." 'El

.

and we support this coun-
try."
Businessman Jamal
Shallal said the Chaldean
community sympathized
with the Jewish commun-
ity's sad feelings over the
bombing of Tel Aviv. He said
Chaldeans and Jews here
need to support one another
during this war.
"I had Jewish people call-
ing me and telling me they
are behind us," he said. "I
hear people talking about
World War II and how the

"I've lived here for
40 years. I've
worked hard all of
my life. Yet,
a lot of people
look at us like
we're a bunch of
camel jockeys."
— Rosemary Anton

government put the
Japanese Americans in
camps. We pray that nothing
like that is even con-
sidered."
As Mr. Shallal watched
television, he saw an area
in Baghdad near where
he attended a Jesuit school.
It saddens him, he said, to
see this happening to his
homeland.

"But," he said, "while we're
concerned about our home-
land, we're concerned about
Israel as well. We were all
saddened when we heard Tel
Aviv was bombed. I just hope
to God that all of this is over
soon."
Jessica Daher, regional co-
ordinator of the American-
Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee (ADC), said area
Arabs are "absolutely ter-
rified" about a rise in acts of
hate against Arab Ameri-
cans.
She said the ADC office
has received a number of
verbal threats as well as
calls of support from non-
Arabs.
In addition to incidents re-
ported in the media, Ms.
Daher said windows have
been smashed in Arab-
owned homes here, and that
one family reported demon-
strators surrounded their
house and chanted anti-Arab
slogans.
"The war has taken the
breath out of everybody,"
she said.
The ADC feels there exists
in the U.S. a "longstanding
hostility and misunderstan-
ding of the Arab and Muslim
world," Ms. Daher said. This
misunderstanding, combin-
ed with the war when
"emotions are raw" makes
for tremendous animosity,
she said.



Harold and Michelle Platt pack for home.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

23

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