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December 01, 1995 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-12-01

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

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A Moral Call

Even in a color television world, war still seems
,•-* to happen in black and white.
Close your eyes for a moment and you can re-
call pictures from World War II concentration
camps, nightly newscasts from Vietnam, and
photographs of starving children in Somalia. Like
these stark, black-and-white newsreel and news-
paper images of conflicts old and new war itself
typically paints everything either black or white
— no shades of gray.
Every war, of course, is more complicated than
that. In times of peace, we have the luxury of ex-
ploring and debating the nuances of disagree-
ments. But war forces us to take sides.
For years, the complicated nature of the war
in the Balkans has prevented the United States
from taking military action. Which of the three
sides would we defend? Anyone but the Serbians,
perhaps, because they are the aggressors. But
what about their history as victims?
Even if we could fmd a side (and some say we
did so in not arming the Bosnians), what is
"America's vital national interest" in Bosnia?
And how many lives are we willing to lose to pro-
t,ect it?
After years of the "terrible suffering of the peo-
ple" of Bosnia, as President Clinton described it,
including "the warfare, the mass executions, the
ethnic cleansing, the campaigns of rape and ter-
ror," during which "2 million people — half of the
population — were forced from their homes," we
have the opportunity to help end the misery.
We have the chance, with the peace agreement
between the Serbians, Muslims, and Croatians
signed in Dayton, to see an end to the killing.

While our expectations for the next year must
include sacrifice and should certainly not include
hopes of a completely. rebuilt country, we must
support the president's plan based on our moral
obligation — a responsibility that is by defini-
tion within our vital national interest.
The Balkan conflict is not directly analogous
to the Holocaust — for one thing, all sides in
Bosnia have arms — but Jews should be espe-
cially cognizant of the moral lessons from the last
European war. -
In addition, we must be prepared to support
the use of troops to enforce a peace treaty far
from our borders, knowing a similar opportu-
nity might arise in the near future for Israel.
Should another American president appeal to
the nation for troops to enforce a negotiated
peace, for a limited time, between Syria and Is-
rael on the Golan Heights, American Jews will
want to make a moral argument to put Amer-
ican lives at stake.
Should that day come, we will argue for sol-
diers to enforce the work of peacemakers, fully
aware that similar efforts have eventually led to
more war, but hoping that real peace is possible.
Two and a half years ago, Elie Wiesel appealed
to President Clinton at the dedication of the Holo-
caust Museum: "I have been in the former Yu-
goslavia last fall. I cannot sleep since what I have
seen. As a Jew I am saying that. We must do
something to stop the bloodshed in that coun-
try."
We must now support the president as he
heeds this moral imperative.

Letters

Rejecting
Certain Groups

many of them American-born, to
perpetuate some of the most
heinous crimes in recent Jewish
history.
Baruch Goldstein and Yigal
Amir are products of this dema-
goguery and of horribly misguid-
ed Jewish ayatollahs' decrees.
Israelis are acting to isolate and
punish similar elements. Many
of us regret not speaking out and
confronting the action of the mil-
itant right wing in the past.
American Jewry can and should
support Israelis by condemning
these groups and making it clear
that they do not represent them,
or express the majority's opinion.

In my letter to the editor that you
published on Nov.- 10, I pointed
out the need of the American
Jewish community to reject and
condemn certain groups. These
are the people who, while at-
tempting to help Israel, cause
much more damage than any de-
clared enemy of Israel can inflict.
Any reader of the Letters to the
Editor section of this publication
can identify these groups by their
venomous attacks on the state of
Israel, its legitimate government
and the peace process. Groups
cr) like "Americans for a Safe Israel"
Avi Zechory
and the JDL (Jewish Defense
Bloomfield Hills
LL,
--, League) have carried the flag of
1-- this despicable action.
o
The Zionist Organization of Profound
cc
I-- America has lobbied in Wash- Sadness
ington against sending U.S. forces
to support the Golan Heights in After attend i rig the memorial ser-
case of peace. They and their kind vice at Adat Shalom, I noticed
help generate the kind of de- fliers had been placed on the
support of the most ex- windshields of some of the cars
\ 0 ranged
,

L1.1

L-LJ

temple, mine included. Appar-
ently vehicles parked on the tem-
ple's grounds did not receive the
same attention.
The flier announced in huge
letters: "Rabin: another sacrifice
for peace." Smaller lettering then
added: "His blood is no redder
than the blood of the more than
160 Jews he killed with his peace
process." There was nothing else.
It was not attributed to any per-
son or party.
As the author obviously lacked
sufficient conviction in his opin-
ions to identify himself, I will
probably never know the exact
purpose or intentions of this mes-
sage. His assertions insulted and
outraged me at first, but consid-
ering them in light of the occasion
that brought me out that night,
my anger quickly gave way to a
profound sadness — the same
sadness shared by all those of
good conscience that night.
The anonymous expression of
this sentiment, at this time and
in this manner, amounted to cm-
elty and cowardice. While it was

Letters

ror of Mr. Rabin's murder at the
hands of another Jew, in a small
but significant way, it demon-
strated the same loss of human-
ity and total disregard for the
democratic process.
Harley Berger
West Bloomfield

Are We Living
In Dreamland?

To think that we are so assimi-
lated that there is no longer a
problem of anti-Semitism just be-
cause it is not overt is like living
in dreamland.
My greatest wish is that nei-
`Explosive
ther my children nor my grand-
children will have to face the
Appearance'
problem head on. Suppose there
"To lobby Congress against are just one or two instances
American taxpayers' money go- where it is brought forward un-
ing to Yassir Arafat is tanta- der explicit, trying conditions.
How will they act or react?
mount to treason."
The anti-Semitism of the 1930s
This was the thrust of Rabbi
Arthur Hertzberg's "explosive" and 1940s is still here though, as
appearance on Peter Jennings' Jeannie Weiner indicated in her
ABC-TV newscast on Oct. 2. It Nov. 3 Community Views column.
was not surprising that the em- It is less overt, but don't for a sin-
inent rabbi and Peace Now ideo- gle minute imagine it is gone. If you
logue was eager to reinforce do imagine it is gone, just check the
Prime Minister Rabin's ill-tem- feelings and actions of the mem-
pered rebuke to American Jews bers of the United Nations.
Part of the problem we have
in which he accused them of not
giving enough for the absorption brought on ourselves. For exam-
of Russian Jewish immigrants in ple, Ms. Weiner says we will be
Israel and not being sufficiently affected by shrinking government
"loyal" to the Labor government funds to our agencies. She is
right, but when was it ever
and the peace process.
Lobbying Congress against promised or expected?
In years past, we developed our
providing unconditional U.S. aid
to the PLO, the prime minister own organizations to take care of
implied, was tantamount to ob- the problems. There is no reason to
structing the peace process. In a expect our neighbors to pay for our
sharp, yet timely rebuttal, Avra- problems. When they do, they re-
ham Burg, chairman of the Jew- sent it.
It is far too early to forget that
ish Agency, denounced Rabin's
criticism of American Jewry as a anti-Semitism still exists. We
"mistake of historic dimensions." should be prepared to face it unex-
Arthur Hertzberg's propensi- pectedly at any time, either men-
ty for putting his foot in his tally or physically as the situation
mouth is not of recent vintage. In indicates, but never, never be afraid
October 1982, in the New York to stop it head on, if we can.
Daniel Natow
Review of Books, Rabbi Hertzberg
Southfield
blasted Israeli Prime Minister
Menachem Begin for his "con- Remembering
frontationist" stance, which
"frightens" the majority of Amer- Leonard Simons
ican Jews and "risks Israel's
I was saddened to learn of Leonard
soul."
Not one to shy away from reck- Simons' death. I met Leonard over
less rhetoric, Rabbi Hertzberg 10 years ago, when he contacted
postulated that in as much as Be- me about writing a book on the ear-
gin's political support came main- ly history of Detroit Jewry.
ly from "North African Jews" who • Due to Leonard's-unflagging en-
lack political savvy and sophisti- couragement, interest and assis-
cation, it would have been desir- tance, the book was published by
able if the two superpowers, the Wayne State University Press un-
United States and the Soviet der the title The Jews of Detroit:
Union, would have agreed upon From the Beginning, 1762-1914.
Whenever I came to Detroit, I
and imposed a "solution" upon a
would
call Leonard and we would
"strident" Israel to "save the Jew-
meet at his home or for lunch. I
ish state from itself."
Ezekiel Leikin will never forget those meals —

,withfinld

/

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