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January 15, 1993 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-01-15

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

/-

2—,

Editor's Notebook

Community Views

Izzy, The P.R. Genius,
Is Back (God Help Us)

Jews Must Help Stop
Slaughter In Bosnia

GARY ROSENBLATT EDITOR

RABBI WILLIAM GERSHON SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

Rejoice, dear
reader. Izzy is
back. The an-
cient prophet of
Jewish p.r. —
the wise,
white-bearded
man who dur-
ing the height
of the intifada described
Bethlehem as only a stone's
throw from Jerusalem —
has shared his wisdom with
me on a wide range of im-
portant topics, and I can as-
sure you he has not lost his
touch.
As proof, Izzy began by
telling me that he has con-
vinced Israeli Prime Minis-
ter Yitzhak Rabin how to
turn a public relations night-
mare — the deportation of
more than 400 Hamas lead-
ers — into a diplomatic coup.
"The whole world is crying
for these poor guys whose
goal is to destroy the State of
Israel and every last Jew,"
Izzy said. "Why? Because
they're stuck in this no-
man's land between north-
ern Israel and southern
Lebanon."
So what's the good news?
I asked.
"Simple. Rabin just has to
announce that Israel has
agreed to give the Arabs a
Palestinian state — the piece
of land where these Hamas
guys are.
"So maybe it's smaller
than what they'd wanted,
but they can call it their own,
and Israel is off the hook."
Before I could react, Izzy
was on to the next focus of
his savvy diplomatic mind,
this one-man answer to all of
our collective kvetching
about Israel always shooting
itself in the foot with its
lousy p.r.
"I've been busy these last
few months working with
Shulamit Aloni," Izzy ex-
plained wearily, referring to
the controversial education
minister in Jerusalem whose
critics, especially observant
Jews, would like to hoist and
shecht her for her anti-Or-
thodox statements and plans
to stop teaching about the
Holocaust in Israeli schools.
"She was a little misun-
derstood, but I've sent her to
a Lubavitch seminary for
women in Minnesota and
now it's a pleasure to watch
her in action in the schools.
She's covering more religious
topics — and her hair. She's
even offering courses in the
secular schools on how to rec-
ognize Moshiach on the play-
ground."
But Izzy was more excited
about how he has branched

out to solve Jewish problems
outside of Israel. He's plan-
ning to raise millions of dol-
lars for the beleaguered Jews
of Crown Heights by opening
LubavitchLand, a kind of
Chasidic amusement park
complete with thrill rides
down Eastern Parkway in
speeding Mitzvah Mobile
trailers. He explained with
excitement how blindfolded
participants would practice
the ancient art of circumci-
sion on a life-like model of
Mayor David Dinkins.
When I suggested that
such a venture might be in
bad taste and set black-Jew-
ish relations back a few cen-
turies, Izzy just shrugged
and mumbled something
about my not recognizing
creative genius. "If you
weren't so critical, I'd give
you a suggestion for your
community," he said, "like
having Hanan Ashrawi set
up a kissing booth at your Is-
rael Day Fair."
Izzy's beeper went off and
he said it was a Clinton
emergency. Next thing I
knew I heard him telling the
President-to-be he had a so-
lution to the Chelsea-goes-
to-snobby-private-school
problem. "If you send your
daughter to the school I have
in mind, Billy boy, you'll go
up at least 10 points with the
fundamentalists and you can
put an end to this whole con-
troversy within two years.
"Yes, sir, it's called Bais

Since Izzy sent
Shulamit Aloni to
a Lubavitch
seminary for
women in
Minnesota, she's
been covering
religious topics
and her hair.

Yaakov — and Chelsea will
be married and raising a
family before you can say
Campaign '96."
Soon he was off the phone
and regaling me with tales
of his other most recent po-
litical dealings in Washing-
ton. Like curing Warren
Christopher of the giggles
and using gel to get that lit-
tle Superman curlicue in Al
Gore's hair. He said he was
having a heck of a time get-
ting Jesse Helms to stop

praising Jewish activists for
"doing the Christian thing"
in their Bosnian humanitar-
ian work.
But Izzy admitted there
have been failures along the
way. He was unable to con-
vince Jewish leaders some
months ago that Jim Baker
was just kidding in his re-
mark about procreation and
Jewish voting patterns. "I
said Baker was using an old
Yiddish blessing that he mis-

Look for lay at the
next round of the
Mideast peace
talks, where he's
planning to
introduce musical
chairs to the Arab
and Israeli
delegations.

pronounced, but nobody be-
lieved me."
Izzy was also unable to
pair up Jesse Jackson and
Jackie Mason for an Anti-
Defamation League thea-
trical presentation of "The
Odd Couple." And his unique
national letter-writing cam-
paign with Jonathan Pollard
has been an uphill battle.
(Izzy's idea was to have Mr.
Pollard write a personal let-
ter to every Jew in America,
but it's only been about 90
percent successful.)
Undaunted, Izzy has been
arranging for his most fa-
mous client, Madonna, to be
given an award by the Girl
Scouts of America — she's al-
ready been cited by the RS-
PCA for extraordinary
kindness to animals — but
his first love is promoting Is-
rael and the Jewish commu-
nity.
He's already convinced
Sinead O'Connor to go on
MTV wearing a blond shei-
tel; before singing, she'll tear
up a picture of Ariel Sharon.
("He needs the sympathetic
backlash," Izzy explained.)
And look for Izzy at the next
round of the Mideast peace
talks, where he's planning to
introduce musical chairs to
the Arab and Israeli delega-
tions.
"I just want to make Jew-
ish p.r. a success," he says
modestly. "I might not have
the charm of a Yitzhak Sha-
mir, but I keep trying."



As 1992 drew
to a close, the
leadership of
the Synagogue
Council of
America (the
umbrella orga-
nization which
represents the
congregations of all major de-
nominations of Judaism in
America) joined forces with
the National Council of
Catholic Bishops and the Na-
tional Council of Churches to
deliver a joint policy state-
ment to President Bush re-
garding the tragedy of
Somalia and the horrors of
Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The statement called on
President Bush to take all
necessary action to curtail the
suffering and injustices in
those lands. It was the first
time in American history that
the major faiths of our coun-
try issued a joint resolution.
And while there are a myri-
ad of issues upon which we

use its military might, if nec-
essary, to stop the murder of
innocent human beings and
to provide humanitarian aid.
For Jews this is not only an
issue of compassion. It is an
issue of tzedek umishpat — of
justice!
The Jewish people have
constituted the most benevo-
lent society the world has
ever known. On almost every
page in the Jewish tradition
one can find compassion and
understanding. Hundreds of
times we read about the
homeless, the hungry, the or-
phan, the widow and the
naked. The Talmud teaches
"he who neglects or refuses to
carry his share to help the
needy, let it be known, that
he is not to be considered a
descendent of Abraham." The
Jew who does not contribute
to the alleviation of distress,
the Jew who does not seek to
help those less fortunate, the
Jew who does not uphold the
standards of justice is an in-

An obscene capacity for evil.

sharply disagree, the preser-
vation of human dignity and
the protection of the inalien-
able.human rights of innocent
people are things upon which
we could agree.
The Jewish leadership took
the lead role in forming this
coalition of religious leaders
who came before the presi-
dent to deliver this message
of moral urgency. The presi-
dent has responded to the sit-
uation in Somalia, albeit too
late to save the hundreds of
thousands who perished from
starvation, but has not yet re-
sponded to the humanitarian
needs of Bosnia and the
mounting evidence of "ethnic
cleansing."
As Jews we must respond
to the continued horrors be-
ing perpetrated in Bosnia and
call upon our government to

Rabbi William Gershon is
associate rabbi , Congrega-
tion Shaarey Zedek, and the
president of the Michigan
Region of the Rabbinical
Assembly and Conservative
Rabbis of Metro Detroit.

truder — he is an alien, he is
not one of us. Indeed, the
most repeated commandment
in the Torah is to love and not
oppress the stranger, "be-
cause you were strangers in
the land of Egypt."
It is no accident that the
word for charity in Hebrew,
tzedakah, is derived from the
same root as the word for jus-
tice, tzedek. Tzedek means to
do what is right and just. The
spirit of tzedakah does not
know the limits of race, reli-
gion, cultural background or
even national borders.
We must act now to pre-
vent the slaughter and star-
vation of innocents in Bosnia,
because we, the Jewish peo-
ple, have known, as no other
people in history, humanity's —
obscene capacity for evil. It Lc>
was less than 50 years ago „—
that our people were starved cc
and murdered at the hands of <
the Nazis while the world =
stood by in silence. For Jews
to remain silent now would be
nothing less than a hillul
Hashem — "a desecration of
God's name." ❑

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