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January 01, 1993 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-01-01

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

(

Pardon Me

With his Christmas Eve pardon of Caspar
Weinberger and five other officials in the Rea-
gan administration for their role in the arms-
for-hostages scandal, George Bush became the
first president of the U.S. to, in effect, par-
don himself.
Now that there will be no trial of Mr. Wein-
berger, the former secretary of defense, we may
never know whether Mr. Bush, then vice pres-
ident, was involved in the two covert actions
(selling arms to Iran for the return of hostages
from Lebanon, and using the money to aid
Nicaraguan rebels), or whether he was aware
they were taking place, or, whether, as he
maintains, he was "out of the loop" and un-
aware. And we may never find out if President
Reagan knew that his aides were involved in
illegal activities.
Independent counsel Lawrence Walsh, in
condemning the pardon, suggested strongly
that Mr. Bush had good reason to seek an end
to the investigations. "In light of President
Bush's own misconduct," he said, "we are
gravely concerned about his decision to par-
don others who lied to Congress and obstructed
official investigations."
Mr. Bush exercised — and abused — his
most authoritative right as president in grant-
ing the pardons. In his written statement, he
described other presidential pardons in his-
tory — including Andrew Johnson's pardon of

soldiers who fought in the Confederacy and
Jimmy Carter's pardon of men who refused to
fight in Vietnam — as part of the "healing tra-
dition." But Mr. Bush did not mention the pres-
idential pardon most similar to his, the purely
political act of Gerald Ford pardoning Richard
Nixon for Watergate illegalities.
The major difference between those two po-
litical acts was that Mr. Ford's pardon came
as he assumed the presidency, while Mr.
Bush's took place as he leaves office. Mr. Ford
realized that his action could cost him the pres-
idency (and many say it did) while Mr. Bush
is beyond the reach of the voters, having wait-
ed until after his defeat before issuing this par-
don.
Politically, Mr. Bush's action was well timed;
ethically it was a travesty. The lesson he leaves
the American public is that some men are, in-
deed, above the law, and that it is permissible
to lie to Congress to protect top officials.
Mr. Bush may be correct in assessing that
most Americans are no longer interested in the
byzantine Iran-contra affair of six years ago.
He says it is time to move on. But he has de-
prived his fellow citizens of their right to know
how power in the highest offices — including
his own — may have been abused. Without
such knowledge we can move on, but not
forward.

Forming Policy

The winds of change continue to blow in
Washington. As government prepares to make
a democratic, and relatively smooth, transi-
tion from a Republican to a Democratic ad-
ministration, it seems clear that foreign affairs
will take up more of the new president's agen-
da than perhaps he had hoped.
American troops are in Somalia on a mis- -
sion of mercy, but no one seems to know how
long they will stay. There are humanitarian
motives for America to intervene more direct-
ly in Bosnia, as well, where civilians are being
murdered and raped in a systematic fashion.
The Middle East peace talks are in danger of
unraveling. Boris Yeltsin's hold on the gov-
ernment in Russia is tentative and the whole
region could be thrown into chaos. Not to men-
tion Saddam Hussein rebuilding his nuclear
arsenal.
Who will decide America's role as the sole
superpower? Who will determine when we act
as moral policeman and when we do not? Judg-
ing from Bill Clinton's proposed appointments

last week of Warren Christopher as secretary
of state and Anthony Lake as national securi-
ty adviser, the answer is Mr. Clinton.
Mr. Christopher is the consummate diplo-
mat and pragmatist who is far more adept at
carrying out a proposal than creating one.
Some pro-Israel activists are less than enthu-
siastic about him because of his involvement
in the Carter administration's Mideast poli-
cy and because he does not appear to have any
instinctual empathy for the Jewish state. The
same could be said for Mr. Lake.
Judging from Mr. Clinton's statements on
foreign policy during the campaign (and there
weren't many), he intends to play the major
role in shaping a coherent foreign policy for a
world that lacks coherence. We hope that Al
Gore, his vice president, will play a vital role
as well, having proved himself ably in the Sen-
ate on foreign affairs.
The players in Mr. Clinton's new drama will
soon be in place. What they need is for him
to play the role of director.

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1

Learn Your
Bingo Rules

Apparently Elizabeth Apple-
baum is not a bingo player,
for in her article (12-11-92)
"Vaad Says No Dice On Gam-
bling Debate" she made an
awful blunder! Anyone who
plays the game knows that
the B is from 1 to 15; I -16 to
30; N - 31 to 45; G - 46 to 60;
and 0 - 61 to 75. You had one
number correctly matched
with its letter: 1-23.
I'm sure you won't let it
happen again.

Cindy Katanick
Davie, Fla.

No Thanks,
Lone Ranger

Gary Rosenblatt's column on
the role of Rabbi Avi Weiss,_
"In Search of the Real Weiss"
(12-18-92), fails to note that
there are other, and more
professional, ways of dealing
with Jewish community re-
lations issues than the ego-
centered approach taken by
the rabbi. To confront these
issues there are a consider-
able number of agencies
maintained and supported by
American Jewry.
A self-appointed guardian
of Jewish rights throughout
the world, Rabbi Weiss, like
Don Quixote, charges out to
conquer the foe single-hand-
edly. He chooses not to notice
that New York City is the
headquarters of organiza-
tions with history, experience
and judgement in dealing
with pressing issues facing
the Jewish community. Rab-
bi Weiss might accomplish
more if he saw fit to find ways
to join with these agencies,
devising and implementing
suitable strategies.
The Lone Ranger approach
of Rabbi Weiss is not appro-
priate to our times.

Alan D. Kandel
West Bloomfield

Dry Bones

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Jewish Remains
Deserve Respect

Either the early remains of
dead Jews have sanctity and
deserve respectful treatment
or they do not. If they have
sanctity, there is no "statute

of limitations" on grave des-
ecration.
On the other hand, if Jew-
ish remains have no special
sanctity, then recent or an-
cient, a dead body deserves
no better treatment than any
other solid waste — or at
maximum only deserves re-
spect as long as there are liv-
ing relatives who would be
emotionally upset. If that is
the case, the ashes of the
Holocaust belong in the dust-
bin, and crowded cemeteries
should be emptied as soon as
relatives expire.
The author of "Rabbi Rules
on Old Bones," (12-25-92) ig-
nores the basic and impor-
tant philosophical issues and
settles for a cheap shot at ob-
servant Jews and their Torah
sages. He clearly shows bias
in favor of highway construc-
tion over graves or desecrat-
ing graves by moving them.
The Jewish News seems all
in favor of preservation of
Jewish cemeteries in Europe
when gentiles are doing the
desecration, but when secu-
lar Israelis want to destroy
the graves of our forefathers,
you flail instead at the rabbi
who prevents it.

Sol Lachman
Oak Park

Don't Compare
Stella, Judenrat

Although I found 'The Blonde
Poison" (12-11-92) very in-
teresting, I was angered by
the comparison of Stella
Goldschlag to the Judenrat.
Unlike Miss Goldschlag,
who of her own volition
turned in hundreds of fellow
Jews, the heads of the Ju-
denrat were forced into coop-
eration with the Nazis. Had
council members not worked
with the Nazis, the Nazis
would have destroyed the
kehilah (community) imme-
diately.
My grandfather, Sholom
Reinitz, was the head of the
Preshov (Czechoslovakia) ke-
hilah when the Slovak Nazis
came. By working with the
Slovaks and keeping the
kehilah organized, he had
hoped to save at least some
members of his doomed corn-

LETTERS page 8

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