100%

Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Share

Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

The University of Michigan Library provides access to these materials for educational and research purposes. These materials may be under copyright. If you decide to use any of these materials, you are responsible for making your own legal assessment and securing any necessary permission. If you have questions about the collection, please contact the Bentley Historical Library at bentley.ref@umich.edu

December 01, 1995 - Image 9

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

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

Community Views

Editor's Notebook

Is There No Limit
To Our Tolerance?

Being Jewish Means
Having To Say, 'Sorry'

RICHARD LOBENTHAL SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM ASSOCIATE EDITOR

I've just returned
from almost three
weeks out of the
country. Conse-
quently, my read-
ing has been a
little exotic: Inter-
national Herald-
Tribune,
the
Indonesian Ob-
server, and their sisters, as well
as staples like the Wall Street
Journal and Time magazine.
Rabin was assassinated while
I was gone, and it's ironic that
violence was the subject of writ-

givings about the way legal is-
sues are dealt with by law en-
forcement officials."
"As public trust in law en-
forcement officials erodes," it
went on, "people tend to settle
matters their own way..."
Shades of the Los Angeles riot
and the Rodney King decision;
shades of the anxieties over
what violence would follow an
O.J. Simpson conviction. Shades
of threats of riots around the
Malice Green issue.
Just the day before, with a
Paris dateline, the Internation-
al Herald Tribune reported on
a colloquium on relations be-
tween Jews and Muslims,

Trade Center bombing, of Ok-
lahoma City, of the latest Ok-
lahoma attempted bombings,
of....Jakarta, Paris, Israel, De-
troit — there are no boundaries
to the growing violence, incivil-
ity, confrontation and intoler-
ance. And terrorism --
religiously and politically moti-
vated -- has shoved its way to
the front pages of our concerns.
Indeed, the New York Times of
Nov. 12 records efforts of Michi-
gan Militia members "taking
over townships."
Balkanization is the last com-
ponent. "The Real Issue: Can
Americans Hang Together?"
wrote Gerald Seib, in "Capital
Journal," appearing in the
Oct. 25 Wall Street Jour-
nal. "...The Death of Di-
versity," wrote Charles
Krauthammer, in the
Nov. 13 Time magazine,
ending with "America's
destination is the Balk-
ans..."
Hate and prejudice; in-
civility and distrust of law en-
forcement; separ-
ation and Balka-
nization; terror-
ism, violence,
and murder.
And the sources
are as disparate
b' as they are exotic:
,./,/ domestic and for-
eign, political and re-
ligious.
Is there solace in
realizing that
•, the Indone-
sians are
-
as crazy
as we are; that Parisians, De-
troiters, Oklahomans, and Is-
raelis and everyone else should
now live in fear? Now it's the re-
which fo- alization. The realization that
cused on ter- my point is made, and it appears
rorism, and without a resolution. And the
i L violence. "Re- task for us all, for our anxieties
g ligious fanati- and our indignations, for our
cism prompts courage and our cowardice, for
more than 20 per- our indecisions and our resolve
cent of international terrorist is to understand the universal-
incidents and is largely re- ity of what we're experiencing,
sponsible for the increasingly and the urgency of fashioning a
violent and ruthless nature of resolve.
terrorism," the article stated,
As I read about the funding-
quoting "experts." Political ter- the-government standoff, I had
rorism wants "a lot of people the sense I was watching a sur-
watching, not a lot of people real pantomime; fiddling, while
dead," said Paul Wilkinson, one Rome was burning. "The world
of the authoritie. "That idea is falling apart," I wanted to
doesn't hold with religious fa- shout, "and you're posturing
natics, who see unbelievers 'as about nonsense. The 1996 pres-
expendable and somehow lack- idential election is closing the
ing in the status of full human- government, while the 1995 ex-
ity.' " Indeed, he said, "because tremists are murdering our lead-
religiously inspired terrorism ers and our citizens."
has no rationale other than an
It's time for some real leader-
expression of hatred, it is all the ship, and if it has to start with
more difficult for a democratic the indignation of our citizens,
:pen society tc; understand such let me say, I'm indignant. ❑
threats and respond appropri-

-

ings in these assort-
ments of media, even
without mentioning the
horrendous murder. And
so there was something
eerie about reading about vi-
olence in the abstract, while
living the aftermath of vio-
lence in the concrete.
But it was overwhelming!
.The Nov. 1 editorial in the In-
donesian Observer, published in
Jakarta, was titled "The New
Threshold for Tolerance," and
bemoaned that "many of us have
been resorting to violence and
mass destruction as a way of
solving problems." Indeed, it
went on, "Our high sense of tol-
erance, which many foreigners
have admired -- too soon as it
turned out -- has ceased to be
our major cultural trait." While
the focus was on various inci-
dents of mass violence not un-
like what we've experienced at
Tiger Stadium, what British soc-
cer fans have seen, etc., the ed-
itorial wondered if there wasn't
a connection to "people's mis-

Richard
of the Anti Defamation League

-

I don't know if
you've been pay-
ing attention, but
in recent years
an unusual ail-
ment seems to
have taken hold
of many in our
community. It's
called "apologi-

tis."
Those afflicted with the dis-
ease feel the need to repeated-
ly apologize — generally with
great histrionics (weeping is not
unheard of) and with much fan-
fare (so all the gentiles will
know just how sorry we are)—
when any Jew anywhere does
anything wrong.
I first realized "apologitis"
was making headway into the
Jewish community at the time
of the intifada, the Arab upris-
ing. That's when Jews (most of
them Americans) started mak-
ing the most dramatic state-
ments about how awful Israel
is. "We can't believe Jews would
act like this!" they would say,
beating their breasts and issu-
ing all kinds of public state-
ments.
It was a moment in the spot-
light for a lot of Hollywood
types, too — those guys who
never actually do anything Jew-
ish but can't wait to identify as
Jews if it adds extra poignancy
to their apology. You know
those, "As a Jew, I am
ashamed..." pronouncements.
"Apologitis" got off the ground
with the intifada, but its oppor-
tunities to spread since then
have been so very rich. There
was Jonathan Pollard, and
Baruch Goldstein, and now Yi-
gal Amin Now I'm not saying
that Israel's government and in-
dividual Jews haven't made
mistakes. Of course they have,
and some (like those mentioned
above) have been truly horren-
dous, and I am sorry.
But I've never felt compelled
to join in the "Forgive us!
Please, please forgive us!" choir
on such occasions, any more
than I've felt the need to sob,
"I'm ashamed!" when the Unit-
ed States errs, which of course
it does.
Fm proud to be an American,
and I don't like the notion of say-
ing I'm ashamed to be one sim-
ply because our government
does something wrong. The U.S.
government is made up of hu-
man beings, and human beings
make mistakes.
I'm especially uncomfortable
when all these Jewish melo-
dramatics are accompanied by
the statement, "After what we
suffered in the Holocaust, we
should know better."
I don't understand why I'm



• 1 1 P

humane world simply because
I'm Jewish and Jews died in the
Holocaust.
In fact, when I hear about
groups who have suffered, I nev-
er think, "Hmm, they have been
wronged, so now they have to
make things right." Is there
anyone here who actually be-
lieves American Indians have a
greater responsibility than
everybody else to be at the fore-
front of fighting for the welfare
of all Americans?
Jews have much to learn
from blacks and Arabs on this
subject of public apologies. Be-
cause, unlike Jews, these two
groups understand that the ac-
tions of an individual do not re-
flect the character of an entire
nation or people.
When was the last time you
saw Hosni Mubarak lie pros-
trate, begging the Jewish com-
munity's forgiveness for what
one Arab terrorist has done?
(Contrast this with how the
Jewish community acted dur-
ing the Baruch Goldstein inci-
dent.) It would be proper if, in
such a case, Mr. Mubarak is-
sued an apology (though how of-
ten do you see Arab leaders do
even that?). But unless the ter-
rorist was paid with Egyptian
government money and trained
on Egyptian land and directed
by Egyptian leaders to kill, why
should I hold Hosni Mubarak
accountable for this specific
deed? Is he responsible for the
wrongdoings of all Arabs sim-
ply because he is an Arab?

Have you seen
Hosni Mubarak
begging for
forgiveness?

I've got news for all of you af-
fected with "apologitis." Maybe
you are too dumb to get it, but
the vast majority of gentiles (the
ones to whom you are really di-
recting your weeping and wail-
ing) are not. They know that
Jews are simply human beings
like everyone else, and that
sometimes Jews kill and spy
and steal, but that doesn't mean
the whole Jewish community
either does the same or supports
them.
Being Jewish does not mean
never having to say "I'm sorry."
There are times we must make
clear our deep disapproval of
acts committed by certain mem-
bers of the Jewish community.
But being Jewish also does
not require falling all over our-
selves in a never-ending refrain
of "We're ashamed!" the mo-
ronni-n_ rt

Back to Top

© 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan