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March 26, 1993 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-03-26

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

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Cycle Of Violence

The cycle of violence appears to be spinning out
of control in Israel. Random murders of Jewish
soldiers and civilians by Arabs have become a
daily tragedy, as have the deaths of Palestinian
youths from Israeli gunfire, mostly in Gaza.
What makes the violence so difficult to con-
trol for Israeli authorities is that these attacks
often take place on a crowded street when an
individual simply pulls out a knife and starts
stabbing passersby. For this act of cowardice
the murderers earn the title of Abu Husah, fa-
ther of the knife.
The motivation for these brutal attacks stems
from the philosophy of such groups as Fatah,
the supposedly "moderate" faction of the PLO,
and Hamas, the Islamic fundamentalist orga-
nization whose goal is to destroy Israel and the
Jews. What is particularly galling is that the
more real the possibility of peace is in the re-
gion, the more violence is perpetrated by radi-
cal Arabs opposed to any accommodation with
Israel.
Understandably, emotions are raw in Israel;
fear, anger and despair are on the rise. Each re-
port of a attack on a soldier, or on children walk-

ing to school, increases the feelings of sadness
and frustration among the population.
While one goal of these attacks of Arabs on
Jews is to derail the peace talks, Israeli Am-
bassador to the U.S. Itamar Rabinovitch told
the annual conference of the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee this week that Israel
has pledged to continue the peace process while
at the same time fighting terrorism "as if this
process was not unfolding."
Moving forward with the peace negotiations
is more critical than ever. At the same time,
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has let it be
known that his government is prepared to take
harsh measures, including tighter security
checks and expanded police protection, to curb
the violence. Mr. Rabin has also been outspo-
ken in saying he wants fewer Palestinians from
the occupied territories working in Israel. "Co-
existence under the present circumstances cre-
ates difficulties," he said.
Stop-gap measures are all that can be ex-
pected at this time, as Israel's government
strives to protect its citizens. The only hope for
a long-term solution remains a meaningful peace
between Israel and her Arab neighbors.

The Russian Dilemma

The current impasse between the forces of
democracy and the forces of repression in Rus-
sia—between Russia's future and Russia's past
— is exacerbating a debate that has been per-
colating on the back burners of the American
Jewish community:
Should U.S. Jews place a higher priority on
helping Russian Jews leave their country or beef
up efforts to create a viable, vital and self-sus-
taining Jewish community in Russia?
These two counterpoints will be the crux of
discussions that will soon begin between the
Joint Distribution Committee and the United
Jewish Appeal as they set priorities for overseas
spending of funds raised by the UJA. Last year,
about $150 million of the $475 million that UJA
raised for overseas aid helped Soviet Jews move
to Israel; less than 10 percent of this — about
$10 million — went to help Jews who stayed in
the former USSR.
Arguments abound on both sides. Officials at
several Jewish foundations say that insisting
that Russian Jews emigrate is arrogant and pa-
tronizing. Other Jewish leaders counter that it
is almost impossible for Judaism to flower in a

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land that has hosted entrenched, virulent, of-
ten violent anti-Semitism for generations.
Boris Yeltsin's current situation certainly il-
lustrates the fragility of democracy in Russia.
But while it is still too early to predict whether
he will prevail, the challenge to him from the
right strengthens the claim of those who con-
tend that Jews are perennially endangered in
the former land of the czars.
Efforts to help those Jews who want to leave
Russia should be redoubled. But the current sit-
uation should not blind the priority-setters to
the fact that many Jews still in Russia — esti-
mates range from 1.6 million to four million —
do not want to emigrate. Russia is their home,
and sometimes — despite the odds against us
— we are determined to make of our homes the
best we can. Writing off those who want to stay
or giving them only miniscule assistance — both
moral and financial — is a slap in the face to
them, negates the fact that Judaism and Jews
have somehow managed to survive in Russia
for centuries, and gives an implicit victory to the
anti-Semites in Russia. ❑

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Letters

Electronic Celebrities
And Jim Berk

After reading Suzanne
Chessler's " Electronic Celebri-
ties" in the March 12 issue, I

was curious, as well as disap-
pointed, that the writer ne-
glected to include the only
Jewish broadcast journalist on
Channel 50: Jim Berk.
Jim Berk has been in De-
troit now for 10 years, cur-
rently doing both radio and TV
broadcasting, as well as play-
by-play for the University of
Detroit-Mercy. He is an estab-
lished figure in both the broad-
casting industry here as well
as in the Jewish community.
Did Ms. Chessler seek to in-
clude only the "high-profile"
types? In all fairness, at least
a footnote would have been ac-
ceptable, mentioning possible
omissions.
Jews, being a minority as it
is, are often enough "excluded."
Let's not do it to our own peo-
ple.
Diane Klemer

`Autonomous'
Directions

Southfield

I was amazed to read in the
March 17 issue of The Jewish
News a quote attributed to
Howard Gelberd, executive di-
rector of the Agency for Jewish
Education (AJE), describing
his organization as "stodgy, out
of touch with the 1990s Jewish
child, lethargic."
While Mr. Gelberd should be
praised for wanting to change
his organization so that it can
meet current needs, one won-
ders why this commendable
purpose is introduced with an
attack on the boards and exec-
utives of the past. Indeed were
it not for their achievements,
ME would not exist.
Of greater concern than Mr.
Gelberd's comments is the
process that is being used to
bring about this change. ME
is an autonomous agency sup-
ported by the Jewish Federa-
tion. AJE and its predecessor,
United Hebrew Schools, have
been governed by a board of
trustees who were fully re-
sponsible and accountable to
the community for the over-
sight of the organization.

The role of the board is now
called into question by the de-
velopment of a consortium
which includes representatives

,

of synagogues, day schools and
a transition team designed to
provide AJE with a "governing

structure." This process, which
was developed with the rec-
ommendation and support of
the Jewish Welfare Federation,
undermines the existing board
of AJE and leaves unclear who
in the future is responsible for
governing AJE.
This process sets a danger-
ous precedent in our commu-
nity. Our Jewish agencies are
not truly autonomous and not
truly accountable if a commis-
sion of the Jewish Federation
can so radically alter the gov-
ernance of any one agency. The
model, if continued, would
leave the Jewish Federation
solely accountable for the ac-
complishments and failures of
its agencies.
We doubt such an achieve-
ment is possible even if it were
desirable. We fail to see how a
process that diffused account-
ability and responsibility will
improve the effectiveness of
AJE or any other organization
managed in this unwise man-
ner.
Albert L Ascher

Lathrup Village

Editor's note: Mr. Ascher is for-
mer executive director of Jewish\
Vocational Service.

Dramatic Steps
For Education

In response to your articles one
the Giles Commission, I wish
to express the following:
1) There is nothing wrong or
really different between the
children of the '30s, '40s, etc.,
and the '90s. My children and
those of my contemporaries are (
more inspired than I was, with
their Jewish studies.
2) The role of community
leaders in Jewish education is
to give money, not to set poli-
cy. That is for the educators.
3) With the following sug-K
gestions you will double school
enrollment and reach the un-
affiliated:
a) Allot $100,000 to canvass
every Jewish household. You
LETTERS page 10

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