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September 18, 1992 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-09-18

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

S S

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Continued from preceding page

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pause, and with the Bible.
He was especially intrigued
by the story of Joseph.
Later, when Mr. Mitchell
learned about the agony rife
in Jewish history, he felt a
tremendous empathy. "It
wasn't that I felt guilty," he
said. "But I felt I needed to
be an example of what
Christians ought to be."
In 1986 he visited Israel on
a media study tour spon-
sored by the Kansas City
Jewish Community Rela-
tions Bureau. It changed his
life.
"Once you've been to
Israel," he said, "you aren't
the same."
For years Mr. Mitchell
had, as a journalist, used
terms like "Golan Heights,"
never understanding their
strategic importance to
Israel. "But the trip put
things into perspective;
nothing was in the abstract
anymore."
Four years later Voices
United chairmen Allen
Mothersill and Esther
Levens approached Mr. Mit-
chell about the organization.
His decision to join was not
made without a great deal of
thought.
"At first I told them no,"
he said. "I thought, 'It will
be just another meeting.'
"I also was concerned with
how the Jewish members
would view me. Did they
think I would hit them over
the head with a Bible and
try to convert them?"
Then he attended his first
meeting. He was impressed
by the group's founders and
decided this was the place to
translate his commitment
into deeds. It was a lesson he
had learned while active in
the civil rights movement:
mobilize for might.
"I believe that when you
stand beside someone, you
get out there and support
him," he said. "You don't

just call up and say, 'I'm
with you.' And Israel needs
to know that someone is
standing beside her."
One of the factors con-
tributing to the strength of
Voices United as a spokes-
man for Israel is the fact
that it comprises both Jews
and Christians, Mr. Mitchell
said.
"We're different faiths,
but we stand together and
say the same thing. That's a
powerful image."
A number of the group's
members are Evangelical
Christian, but all adhere to a
strict doctrine of no -
missionizing within the
organization. Instead,
Voices' sole mission is ad-
vocating for Israel, which
what makes the group work,
Mr. Mitchell said.
For Mr. Mitchell, being a
good Christian does not
mean converting everyone to
his religion. Rather, it is a
good way to live. It mean;
treating one's neighbor with
kindness and not stealing,
he said.
Voices United does no
take political positions — its
brochure states it will
"support the legally estab-
lished government of Israel
in those policies which that
government determines to
be in its own best interest"
— and does not attempt to
influence Israeli govern-
ment decisions.
The organization clearly
does not have a left-wing
bent. A recent newsletter
carries the story, "Don't L-t
the PLO's New Look Fool
You," and Mr. Mitchell
firmly believes Israel must
maintain a strong posture.
"I played high school foot-
ball, so I understand the im-
portanceof negotiating from
a position of strength," he
said. "What I say is 'peace
for peace,' not land for
peace.' "



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