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January 17, 1992 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-01-17

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

I CLOSE-UP I

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betrayed by their American
brethren," said Mark
Robbins, a staff person with
the Washington office of the
American Jewish Com-
mittee (AJC).
Mr. Robbins views the war
as a "point of connection" for
many American Jews to
Israel's security needs. But
he divided the long-range
impact of the war into two
categories: psychological
and political.
Psychologically, American
Jews felt terrorized by Hus-
sein's Scuds. Politically,
they were savvy enough to
realize that the attacks were
not very damaging. Plus,
Mr. Robbins said, they now
question whether the war
was worth fighting alto-
gether.
"On the one hand, the war
reinforced the idea of Jewish
vulnerability, or in the
modern day, Israeli
vulnerability. On the other
hand, American Jews have
been analyzing the war's
impact on its own merits,"
said Mr. Robbins, who is
assistant to the director of
the Office of Government
and International Affairs for
AJC.
The Scud attacks, many
noted, were more like ter-
rorist attacks in their
psychological impact. But
unlike 1967, when Israel's
existence was in doubt, few
feared the political or
military implications of the
Gulf War.
"We probably have
mobilized for Israel more be-
cause of Russian immigrants
than because of Scuds," said
Dr. Giles, of the Jewish Fed-
eration. "That shouldn't
surprise us. After all, the
Gulf War created emotions
that were for the moment.
The opportunity for a Rus-
sian Jewish exodus will turn
on many more people."
Dr. Giles added that
Israel's stated mission — to
be a haven for all Jews — is
acted out clearly in the in-
flux of Soviet Jews. But
Israel's involvement in the
Gulf War was much more a
matter of sympathy.
Ultimately, many Ameri-
can Jews note ruefully,
Israel's restraint in the Gulf
War will be eclipsed by new
issues. American moral sup-
port for Israel during the
war, for instance, did not
budge the White House's
stern refusal to extend loan
guarantees for Israel, said
Shelly Jackier, director of
the Michigan office of the
American Israel Chamber of
Commerce.
"It seems like a very short-
lived memory," she said.
Even the Arab boycott of

Shelly Jackier

trade with Israel, which was
challenged more publicly
after the war by the United
States, did not cease. The
American government, Mrs.
Jackier said, was more in-
terested in placing Kuwait
reconstruction contracts
with American companies.
In addition, American in-
terest in settling Middle
East conflicts, even at the
expense of Israel's current
borders, have left Israel, and
her American supporters,
feeling deflated.
"There was a sense during
the war that Israel's security
blanket is not as strong as
people thought. And now we
have negotiators calling for

"This is a little blip
on the screen of
human history."

Mark Finkelstein

Israel to hand over land for
peace. People didn't
necessarily relate the first
issue to the second," said
Alan Goodman, executive
director of Jewish Family.
Service. Mr. Goodman, a na-
tive of South Africa, lived in
Israel for more than five
years.
"We see this stuff on TV
and it's so real and so vivid
and then we turn off the TV
and forget about it," said
Mr. Goodman. The war, he
said, gave people a greater
appreciation of Israel's
relative size in the Middle
East, but it did little to affect
public opinion on Israel's
security needs.
To that, Yitzchak Ben-
Gad, Israel's Midwest consul
general, said that Israel
would rather suffer the sl-
ings of public outrage than
risk the lives of its citizens.
"If Israel has to decide
between being popular and
dead and being unpopular
and alive, I'm sure she
would go with the second op-
tion," he said. El

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