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January 12, 1996 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-01-12

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Calls Of The Minority
Can Be Deafening

Birmingham's decision to drop the playing of
overtly Christian religious music during the
holiday season was significant and correct.
While many would say that it's "no big deal,"
it is certainly a "big deal" if even one person feels
upset enough to stop shopping in any area of
metro Detroit. What also makes it difficult is
when taxpayers who might be offended by the
music, through no choice of their own, actually
help finance music about Jesus, Christmas or
any other faith.
The best move for Birmingham would be to
play wordless holiday music. It is important to
include, not exclude. Even by playing music,
which seems innocuous on most levels, we have
the power to offend and make our fellow citi-
zens feel left out.
Birmingham could truly make it "no big deal"
if it kept the religious words out.
This is not about "bowing to the pressure of
a small minority." Indeed, it's the voice of the
small minority that deserves a hearing. And

perhaps the best statement on the subject came
from Birmingham City Attorney Timothy Cur-
rier, who said that the U.S. Constitution is de-
signed to protect individuals against the tyranny
of the majority.
It was amazing to see the interest in this sub-
ject and read the comments of the people who
turned out at a recent Birmingham commission
Next year, when Birmingham approaches the
holiday season, the best "music" that could be
"played" would be planned programs bringing
diverse groups together in the interest of fund-
raising for especially needy charities. Nobody
should feel left out in an effort that would re-
sult in something worthwhile, something good.
If the people who found the energy to come
out and debate the music decision would take
that time and invest in a charitable effort, Jews,
Christians, everyone would collectively feel good
about something, and they'd be pointing fingers
at the effort, not at one another.

A Terrorist's End
And A Chilling Reaction

The dramatic assassination of Yechi Ayash will
in no way stop the string of deadly attacks
against Israelis. Last Friday, a cellular tele-
phone packed with explosives removed him from
this earth. Israelis at home and abroad were
immediately put on a state of high alert. A se-
ries of attempted revenge bombings by Ayash's
proteges is expected. Israel's secret service al-
legedly coordinated the attack through the use
of a Palestinian agent. Ayash, known as the En-
gineer, was the mastermind behind the horrif-
ic bus bombs that, since November 1992, killed
more than 50 Israelis and wounded more than
300 others.
We are always in pain when someone is
killed, particularly civilians riding a public bus,
shopping in a marketplace or walking down the
street. Ayash chose to enter this world of "kill
or be killed." The Palestinian outpouring of grief
for his death is chilling. Palestinian Authority
head Yassir Arafat gives the public no reason
to reject this vicious cycle when he says, "We
mourn all our dead, especially Yechi Ayash."
Mr. Arafat is angry. He has lost face with the
Palestinian public. Ayash was killed in the
Arafat-controlled Gaza Strip. But the Pales-
tinian Authority provided no refuge for this ter-
rorist's terrorist.
Some claim that Israel should have waited
to make this move until after the upcoming
Palestinian elections. The killing, they say,
brings undue sympathy to Ayash's Hamas and

the like-minded Islamic Jihad. But Israel must
not flinch in the never-ending war against ter-
rorism. Although Israel is divorcing itself from
controlling every nuance of Palestinian life, it
cannot even momentarily forsake this endless
fight. Waiting, which could enable another
bombing, is unacceptable.
For Israelis, the murder also helped to restore
confidence in the country's security apparatus,
which often boasts that its "long arm" can reach
anywhere. But that appendage received a pun-
ishing slap in November when Yitzhak Rabin
was assassinated. Since then, public faith in
the near-mystical General Security Services
has understandably plunged. After Ayash's
demise, it rose a critical notch. Prime Minister
Shimon Peres, who no doubt personally ap-
proved of Friday's events, knows that for pub-
lic support of the peace process, Israelis must
trust that the government will take all steps
necessary to protect them.
And thus, Yechi Ayash entered the hall of
Palestinian martyrs. Now Mr. Arafat alone can
push his people away from celebrations in its
courtyards and drag them down the more chal-
lenging path of creating, in his words, "the peace
of the brave." We do not yet know if he is ca-
pable of doing so. However, he alone of the
Palestinians offers the best chance. And we are
a generation that cannot afford to forsake the
effort to live in peace — regardless of the diffi-
culties along the way.



For Thought

role in meeting the previously ig-
nored needs of the Jewish hun-
gry, your article ldft the
impression with many that Yad
As many of the founders and past Ezra is not operating efficiently.
and current presidents of Yad Nothing could be further from the
Ezra, we are disappointed by the truth.
We personally assure the com-
inaccuracies and negative ap-
that Yad Ezra operates
proach of your Jan. 6 article
("Success Spawns Growing extremely efficiently. It takes only
Pains"). While we appreciate The a visit to our modest offices and
Jewish News' interest in Yad warehouse to see that Yad Ezra
Ezra, it is important that the operates "lean and mean," dedi-
community understand how effi- cating well over 90 percent of our
ciently and effectively Yad Ezra budget to our food-delivery sys-
has served the previously unrec- tem. We are proud of the hun-
ognized Jewish hungry in the De- dreds of volunteers and dedicated
small staff who are the backbone
troit area.
Yad Ezra provides essential of our grass-roots organization.
food to over 1,800 clients each As its founders and leaders, we
month, distributing about one- will not allow Yad Ezra to lose the
half million pounds of food an- community's trust.
Richard A. Barr
nually. In addition, Yad Ezra
Sanford Eisenberg
educates our youth and adults to
Michael J. Eizelman
the plight of the Jewish hungry,
Eliezer C. Kaplan
works hand-in-hand with both
Howard L. Zoller
Jewish and non-Jewish charities
and social-service agencies and
coordinates the activities of hun-
dreds of Yad Ezra volunteers.
These invaluable services are per-
formed for our community with
incredibly low overhead, contrary In his Jan. 5 letter in The Jewish
to the misguided conclusions of News, Mr. Isaac Lakritz's acri-
your reporter.
monious comments are patent-
The truth is that Yad Ezra's ly false.
client base has increased five-fold
The Zionist Organization of
in five years (from about 200 to America and the National Coun-
1,000 families per month) with cil of Young Israel did not boycott
only a minimal increase in over- the Rabin meeting in New York's
head expense. Despite our at- Madison Square Garden. The
tempts to explain this, your article meeting was conceived and pro-
erroneously compared Yad Ezra's jected as a rallying call for Jew-
overhead rate to that of the Food ish unity and solidarity to offset
Bank of Oakland County and the trauma generated by the Ra-

A Call
For Unity

Gleaners Community Food Bank.
The problem with that ap-
proach is that the operation of
those "food banks" has nothing to
do with the operations of a "food
pantry" such as Yad Ezra. The
food banks acquire mass quanti-
ties of food for wholesale distri-
bution to food pantries such as
Yad Ezra, and not to individuals.
In contrast, Yad Ezra's staff of
only three professionals individ-
ually meets with, counsels and
distributes food to nearly 1,000
families each month. Your com-
parison of Yad Ezra to the food
banks is like comparing apples to
Yad Ezra's executive director
explained this important dis-
tinction to your reporter. Rather
than focusing on Yad Ezra's note-
worthy growth and its essential

bin assassination.
In an ad in the metropolitan
edition of the New York Times,
signed by Morton A. Klein, na-
tional president, and Reuben
Schechter, executive director, of
the ZOA; and Chaim Kaminet-
zky, national president, and Rab-
bi Pesach Lerner, executive vice
president, of the National Coun-
cil of Young Israel, these leaders
said inter alia: "The forthcoming
Madison Square Garden rally by
Jewish organizations should be
an occasion to promote real uni-
ty and healing. That is what
world Jewry so desperately needs
during this difficult period when
we are all mourning the tragic as-
sassination of Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin.
LETTERS page 12

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