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August 20, 1993 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-08-20

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

S

Headlines Of Hate
Repeat Themselves

Four shops in a Jewish neighborhood in Rome are
defaced with swastikas and the word "Jew."
A World War II Allied cemetery located in Hol-
land has tombstones vandalized with Nazi slo-
gans.
Over 500 neo-Nazis march in the German town
of Fulda in honor of Rudolph Hess, one of Hitler's
deputies.
Australian university students protest an art
exhibit that places a Magen David in a Nazi flag
and a swastika in an Israeli flag.
The above listed events could have been pulled
from the editions of The Jewish News during World
War II. But they're not, they are just a sampling
of events that happened last week around the
world.
Yes, there were related events that gave us all
hope. Behind some of these headlines chronicling
news of hate were the stories of how thousands of
European gentiles protested some of these neo-
Nazi acts. There's the story of the German gov-
ernment donating millions of dollars to help Jewish
culture rebuild itself.
Most of the hate we see in Europe is rallied
against the rising tide of refugees, many who are
people of color, willing and anxious to work at any
wage to feed their families and have some sem-
blance of personal freedom. While these crimes get
their share of publicity, Jews cannot rest at the

easy inclination that these haters are casting an
eye elsewhere. We cannot afford again to sit back
and watch a rise in hate-crimes reach a level of
government sanction.
These incidences around the world are not just
a scattering of headlines here and there. They are
becoming too routine, too much a part of our lives.
When coupled with the terrorism and genocide of
the war in Yugoslavia and civil strife elsewhere in
the world, it's time for all of us, not just Jews, but
everyone, to realize that these signs we're seeing
are all too familiar. Only this time, we need to act.
Acts of hate half a world a way can just as easily
end up in our own backyards.
Even in our "safe" society of assimilation and
freedom, being a Jew is being different. This coun-
try allows us that freedom "Under God" to be Jew-
ish.- That freedom should be used in a powerful
way to speak out against hate, to lobby our polit-
ical leaders, not just when times are tough, but es-
pecially when times are good. What happened in
Europe 50 years ago can happen again. If we've
learned anything from our recent history, we have
the tools now to at least do our damndest to pre-
vent it.
Let's not be content with reading the headlines.
If we do, there will be more to read and the sub-
jects will be deadlier.

T H E D E T RO I T J E W IS H N E WS

We Should All Be Ready
For 'Back To School'

4

This week's issue includes our annual "Back To
School" section as well as the introduction of a reg-
ular college section.
Besides the annual rush to the department store
to purchase new clothes and school supplies, this
is also the time when teachers and faculty mem-
bers get together to plan the upcoming school year.
The same is also true for Jewish educators in day
schools, synagogue-based schools and teachers
of the Agency for Jewish Education.
Following his first year at the helm of the ME,
Howard Gelberd now feels that the people and pro-
grams are in place "to breathe new life in Jewish
education in Detroit." The task force committee
reports are over, and it is time for implementation.
This, according to Mr. Gelberd, involves injecting
a new spirit of excitement about Jewish education
and the encouragement of a more professional at-
mosphere among area teachers.
What is most important, though, is that 7,000
students are impacted in a positive way, that the
days of seeing religious education as nothing more
than a boring-afternoon-after-public-school are
over.
There is another issue, though, that is also crit-
ical. Too many times, the work of a Jewish edu-
cator dissipates at the dismissal bell. Jewish
parents need to take their children's religious ed-
ucation personally. There's more to this than just

asking their children "what they learned at Sun-
day school." The expected response is typically,
"Nothing much."
But for Jewish education to succeed, our chil-
dren need to see us learning as well, not only for
their sakes but for our own growth. ME took a
year of changing personnel and programming to
offer up the best it can for the children. To make
it work, though, the youngsters can't leave it in
the classroom. Religious school can not be looked
at with the equivalency of a drop-in basketball pro-
gram.
Learning Hebrew, studying the words of the
sages, the history of the Jewish people and un-
derstanding Judaism's relevancy during modern
times is all part of the experience. Parents need to
learn this as well. Their children need to see that
education doesn't stop at bar or bat mitzvah; it con-
tinues. How will they know? They will see educa-
tion at home.
Summer's end and the beginning of school comes
at a time when we prepare for repentance or for a
time to start over. Our teachers are energetically
getting ready to teach our children. We should
be excited about that. We should be equally excit-
ed about a chance to continue learning ourselves
so that our children's education won't end with the
bell.

Opinion

The Lessons Of Bosnia

RABBI ROBERT L. WOLKOFF SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

ews have many lessons to
learn from the suffering in
Bosnia — and we ignore
them at our peril.
For nearly 200 years, Jewish
consciousness has centered
around two opposed poles. One
was rigidly ethnocentric, per-
ceiving the outside world with
fear and suspicion. The other
Jewish ethos was optimistical-
ly humanistic, seeing in en-
lightenment and democracy the
fulfillment of our ancestors'
dreams of freedom from the
bondage of anti-Semitism, and
entrance into the promised land
of humanity.
Not surprisingly, these di-
vergent views have played a
large role in the internal Jew-
ish debate on the Middle East.
In particular, they have come
to the fore whenever the concept
of "guarantees" is mentioned,
since it is precisely here that a
clear understanding of the re-
lationship between Jews and
the non-Jewish world becomes
absolutely crucial.
In the eyes of today's ethno-
centrists, it would be insane for
Israel to rely on anyone else's
promises, including those of the
United States, on questions of
security.
Other Jews frown upon this
view. They see in it a "siege
mentality," a "Masada com-
plex," "the shadow of the Holo-
caust," a blindness brought on
by ethnocentric distrust. These
Jews rightly point out that the
concept of radical self-reliance,
of which self-defense is a major
component, is becoming ques-
tionable in an increasingly in-
terdependent world.
The lessons of Bosnia deci-
sively change the terms of the
debate, and call into question
the humanists' calm confidence.
From Bosnia, we learn three
things:
* Ethnic hatreds must be
measured in centuries and mil-
lennia. Tales of Serbian men
murdering their Croatian
wives, and similar horror sto-
ries, remind us of the barbarism
lurking under the veneer of civ-
ilization.

No one who has taken the
lessons of Bosnia to heart could
possibly look at the Middle East
and believe that a peace plan
could be devised that would tru-
ly erase the hatreds of the past.
Certainly s u ffering could and
should be ameliorated, griev-
ances redressed, compensation
made to all sides. But what i4
all that, compared to the viciou
forces which ethnic memory ca lf
unleash? And nowhere is et} F,
nic memory stronger than in tl- ij
Middle East.

It would be
insane for
Israel to rely on
anyone else's
promises.

* Warfare is not limited to a
high-tech struggle in defense •
national sovereignty. Warfar4t
is also mass rape, torture, star=
vation, "ethnic cleansing."
These phenomena have been
absent from Israel's wars, be
cause Israel won them all swift-
ly. This has been possible
because of Israeli military
prowess and geo-strategic real-
ities — de facto boundaries
which kept the armed ethnic
groups, Arabs and Israelis
rigidly separated (the unarmed
Palestinians being unable to act
in effective military fashion).
However, Israel is being
asked to sacrifice precisely these
military and geo-strategic ad-
vantages by, for example, wi
drawing from the Golan
Heights or allowing Palestinia
sovereignty.
In place of these advantages
would be international guaran-
tees. It is, however, precisely
here that the third lesson
Bosnia comes to play.
* The international commu-
nity is a blunt and unreliable
instrument. The problem Bosni-
ans face (and which we, in the
future, may have to face) is a
entirely normal lack of urgency

BOSNIA page 8

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