Temple Israel's Shelter
Temple Israel has gone and accomplished
something that the Detroit synagogue
community and all of us need to watch with.
The West Bloomfield temple, Michigan's
largest congregation, will open its doors for
one week in July of 1992 for homeless peo-
ple within Oakland County in conjunction
with the South Oakland County Shelter.
The effort will involve a huge undertaking
as Temple Israel feeds, houses and
transports men, women and children with
no other place to go.
Records from cities all over the nation
show us that the summer, contrary to most
of our thinking, is the most difficult time to
be homeless. The hotter the weather, the
higher the level of domestic violence, the
higher the rate of landlord evictions.
Landlords will often wait until the weather
is warmer before they evict tenants. Once
out in the streets, the homeless are the
targets for random violence, including sex-
ual assault and robbery.
Traditionally, the front line to the poor
has been branches of Christian churches.
Many of these shelters, across the country,
service homeless Jews.
Temple Israel is going beyond the tradi-
tional and effective canned food barrel in
the lobby. It's going up to the front line.
Hopefully, by Temple Israel's example,
more of us will join them in the future.
Is Shamir Serious?
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir
has notified the Bush administration of his
government's decision to reject Secretary
of State Baker's call for compromises that
would allow the U.S. to convene a Mideast
peace conference. This is a disappointment,
particularly since the two sticking points
that Israel would not yield on seem
relatively minor procedural issues: the
silent presence of a United Nations
observer and allowing the conference to be
reconvened every six months.
Despite Secretary Baker's unfair recent
outburst blaming Israel for holding up the
progress of the conference, it is Israel that
has the most to lose and Israel that has
been the most flexible in agreeing to a
number of other compromises. And one can
understand why the Jerusalem govern-
ment would prefer not to have any U.N.
presence, given the international body's
long-standing record of bias against the
Still, Mr. Shamir's decision only rein-
forces the perception that he does not want
to participate in a peace conference and is
using the two procedural issues as an ex-
When one considers how much progress
has been made in working toward a peace
conference, including satisfying many of
Israel's key demands, one would hope that
these procedural issues could be resolved.
After all, the conference, as envisioned,
FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 1991
calls for direct talks toward a comprehen-
sive settlement with the Arab states, as
well as the Palestinians, based on U.N.
Resolutions 242 and 338 and the Camp
David formula for negotiating interim
solutions in the territories first.
Among the other positive developments:
the Palestinians have agreed to a back-seat
role for the Palestine Liberation Organiza-
tion; Syria would be negotiating directly
with Israel; and the USSR will be working
with the U.S. rather . than supporting ex-
treme Arab positions.
Of course there are many potential
stumbling blocks, but this is the closest
Israel and the Arab states have come to sit-
ting down directly and negotiating their
differences, as Israel has always called for.
Is it worth canceling the conference over
Israel's refusal to yield on two procedural
Theodore Mann and Hyman Bookbinder,
two American Jewish leaders active in Pro-
ject Nishma, an educational group dealing
with Israeli security, argue that "only a
shallow concept of solidarity would lead
American Jews to reflexively 'circle the
wagons' around an irrevocable 'no' an-
swer" by Israel.
Indeed, it would be a pity for Israel to
have come this far toward a peaceful set-
tlement only to reject the American plan
now over two technical procedures.
Once again the issue of who
is responsible for creating
obstacles to peace in the Mid-
dle East has become news.
And once again, Israel is
U.S. Secrtary of State
James Baker accuses Israel of
preventing peace because of
the settlements on the West
Bank and in Gaza. And Jews
and non-Jews alike begin to
simplify Israel's reasons and
There are many reasons for
Israel establishing settle-
ments on the West Bank and
Gaza, and Secretary Baker
did not address them. Jews
have lived in Samaria and
Judea for centuries. Many
settlements already existed
there and the issue of the ad-
ditional ones should not be
the main obstacle to peace.
Many Jews believe it is a
right for Jews, like anyone
else, to be able to choose
where they live. Connected to
this argument over the set-
tlements is the "land for
peace" position which
Secretary Baker advocates.
Some military experts in-
sist that an Israel with
pre-1967 borders would be
militarily indefensible. Defen-
ding the coastal plain against
a modern, armored force, they
say, would be impossible.
America's own military
defense has often been built
on maintaining forces
thousands of miles away for
our protection. Yet we insist
that Israel should defend
itself on a stretch of land
barely 21 kilometers wide.
Finally, Israel's critics seem
to suggest that the United
Nations ought to assume a
primary role in the peace
negotiations. How can we ex-
pect fair and just decisions
from an organization that has
passed resolutions that iden-
tify Israel with racism and
that has shown clear anti-
Israeli positions in the last 25
A recent U.N. report from
the General Assembly com-
pares Israeli's reaction to the
intifada to the Holocaust. For
all the criticisms of Israel's
reaction to the uprising, no
sensible person would make
such a comparison. It shows a
basic insensitivity to Jewish
history and culture and a
failure to see that political or
police battles are not the
same as genocide.
As a subscriber and long-
time reader of The Jewish
News as well as a member of
the Israel and World Jewry
Committee of the Jewish
Community Council, I have
been interested in the inter-
change taking place between
the two organizations and feel
that it can be a healthy one.
The function of a newspaper
is to report and investigate
newsworthy items to its
readers, broadening their
knowledge in the process. A
study of the articles publish-
ed in The Jewish News would
very likely show a conser-
vative rather than "dovish"
trend in the coverage of news
related to Israel. It would be
fair to say that very little was
reported in terms of the
What has appeared more
recently is only an attempt at
representing more fairly a
trend that has been prevalent
in Israel: i.e. that while the
government is represented by