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December 04, 1992 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-12-04

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

k7T4's
ta.SMVA,

Following Orders

I

t was an order and I simply did what I was
told." These 12 words that recently came
from the mouth of a Serbian soldier are an
echo from a past that we had all hoped would
never be repeated. They were heard at Nurem-
burg. They were heard in the Gulag. They were
heard in Vietnam. And now, we hear them from
young Serbian soldiers who rape 10-year-olds,
slit the throats of civilians as if they were slaugh-
tering pigs, and mow down innocents — 30, 40,
50 at a time — with machine guns, then dump
their bodies into furnaces for incineration.
"It was an order and I simply did what I was
told."
These words are an affront to decency. And
yet, how many of us have complied with orders

that have made us feel squeamish, that we
sense are morally compromised. And how many
excuses have we made for ourselves in the name
of expediency and clearing our gutted con-
science?
"It was an order and I simply did what I was
told."
Remembering the Holocaust, we say "Never
again." Pointing fingers at the "ethnic cleans-
ing" of the Serbs, we say, "Never again." But
how many "revers" can there be? And when will
the spark of conscience allow soldiers to respond
to immoral orders with these words:
"It was an order but I told my superior officer
no."

Five Years Later

I

t has been five years now since a new word
entered our vocabulary: intifada. The spon-
taneous Palestinian uprising that began De-
cember 9, 1987, sparked by a traffic accident
in Gaza, has undergone many changes, most
significantly from a popular protest against Is-
raeli rule to a bloody intra-Palestinian battle-
ground. And as Foreign Correspondent Douglas
Davis reports on page 108, what seemed to be
a triumph for the Palestine Liberation Orga-
nization has become, instead, a victory of sorts
for Hamas, the Islamic radical group.
In the early months of the intifada, the me-
dia's coverage of Palestinian youths hurling
rocks and invectives at Israeli soldiers strength-
ened the perception of the Palestinian struggle
as a simple one between oppressed, stateless
people and the armed forces that sought to quell
them.
Many have forgotten now how, in part as a
result of a greater sympathy for the Palestin-
ian cause, a special United Nations session was
convened in Geneva to deal with the issue, and
PLO leader Yassir Arafat held a late-night press
conference to read a carefully-worded statement
in which he renounced terrorism and ac-
knowledged UN resolutions 242 and 338, in ef-

fed recognizing Israel's right to exist.
This, in turn, led to the intifada's sweetest
fruit — an official dialogue with Washington.
But it soon turned sour when Arafat refused to
disavow a terrorist attack on Israel by a PLO
affiliate. And since then Arafat has been iso-
lated by former allies for misreading the polit-
ical cards and supporting losers, from the
leaders of the attempted coup in Moscow to Iraqi
dictator Saddam Hussein.
During this time, Hamas has emerged as a
powerful political force whose militant position
is to oppose any form of political compromise
with Israel. And the intifada has become an ex-
cuse for Palestinians to kill each other for po-
litical, religious or personal reasons while
claiming that these brutal executions are pun-
ishment for collaborating with the Israeli ene-
my.
In effect, the intifada has come to symbolize
the frustration and weakness of the Palestin-
ian cause: an initial rage against the "outsider"
that has turned inward and, at least until now,
a dream of statehood and dominance that has
overshadowed the need for political compro-
mise.

; Dry Bones

IN 114E GAME of
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Tp MAkE ALL

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TNAG MOVES

Letters

Rising Bias
In The U.S.

Your (Nov. 20) front page
response to the latest ADL
survey was very much to the
point. Florence and I were
part of Frank Sklarsky's AJC
dialogue effort, the most
frustrating social effort of my
life. Dr. Schoem's comment
that we need to emphasize
shared concerns is
appropriate.
The most important obser-
vation, in my opinion — that
we have more to fear from
right-wing fundamentalists
— is most astute. We need to
do more reaching out
dialogue, communicate —
with this huge community
and really work at it.
History has already warned
us that this is the imminent
and long-range danger. We
need to aggressively support
the work of the Rev. James
Lyons and the Ecumenical In-
stitute for Jewish and Chris-
tian Studies with strong ef-
forts to communicate, build
bridges, educate Christians
and Jews about each other.
We must teach that anti-
Semitism is a Christian pro-
blem. We must overcome
millenia of suspicion, fear and
hate.
Once we know each other,
we can learn to be brothers —
and sisters — finally fulfilling
the American Dream for all.

Arnold Michlin
President, Ecumenical Institute
for Jewish & Christian Studies

We're To Blame
For Borman Hall

I was appalled after reading
the Close-Up article Nov. 27,
"Code Blue for Borman Hall."
How could an affluent com-
munity like ours allow this to
happen to our parents and
our elderly? I feel shame both
individually and collectively

for our community. How was

this allowed to happen? Sure-
ly when we give to charitable
organizations we never expect
to read an article like this.
I understand there is never
enough money to do
everything, but surely there
are priorities. Shouldn't our

very own parents and
children take top priority
with these organizations 9,--<
• 1
This community built an
edifice, the Jewish Communi-
ty Center in West Bloomfield,
with the best of everything R
and we let our elderly go
down the tube. Surely the
people that allocate where
our contributions are to be
spent and the people that ad-
minister the Home must
share in the responsibility for ,2
allowing this condition to
develop. The ultimate respon-
sibility is ours.
If there is not enough
money, the community must
be made aware of the situa-
tion. It is our responsibility —
yours and mine — not to let
something like this happen.
I think our community
should get its priorities
straight.

Alvin Ribiat
Southfield

Converts And
Homosexuals

r

j

Although it has been many"'
weeks since your paper
printed favorable articles on
Christians attempting to con-
vert Jews and then following -J
that with a favorable article
on homosexuals, I find myself
still upset that you would'
print such disgraceful
articles.
Even your paper knows that
the Torah punishes homosex-
uality by the death penalty. 1 ,
The title "Jewish" should be
dropped from your paper'sc=
name.

Leo I. Stein
Oak Park ,

Ms. Zimmerman
To Be Missed

H

The art community of the
Detroit metropolitan area
owes a debt of gratitude to
Ms. Sharon Zimmerman,
curator of the beautiful
Janice Charach Epstein _
Museum-Gallery, who is plan-'
ning to leave the gallery in
the near future.
The exhibitions that she
has curated have been '-
outstanding. She has set a
ZIMMERMAN page 8

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