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June 14, 1996 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-06-14

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4c. "'s


Quenching The Fire Of Hate

"In 1963, on a sweltering August afternoon, we
stood in Washington, D.C., and talked to the na-
tion about many things. Toward the end of that
afternoon, I tried to talk to the nation about a
dream that I had had, and I must confess to you
today that not long after talking about that dream,
I started seeing it turn into a nightmare. I re-
member the first time I saw that dream turn into
a nightmare — just a few weeks after I had talked
about it. It was when four beautiful, unoffending,
innocent Negro girls were murdered in a church
in Birmingham, Ala."
The nightmare the Rev. Martin Luther King
Jr. saw in the bombing of the Sunday school of the
16th Street Baptist Church on September 15,
1963, has not ended.
No matter how you count it — 32 in the last 18
months, 53 in the last five years, 10 on or around
Martin Luther King
Jr. Day in January, 23
so far this year, 11 in
the last three months,
or two within five
hours this week — the
burning of black-con-
gregation churches in
the South follows the
same line of hatred
that the Rev. King
lamented more than
three decades ago.
Most of the attacks
have been carried out
between midnight
and dawn with Molo-
tov cocktail-style in-
cendiary devices, often
accompanied by
spray-painted racist
graffiti and racist
notes inailed anonymously to or left in the mail-
bc.;,..es of black pastors.
"We do not now have evidence of a national con-
spiracy," President Clinton said during his week-
ly radio address from the Oval Office last
Saturday. "But it is clear that racial hostility is
the driving force behind a number of these inci-
dents. This must stop."
If these evil acts were the results of an orga-
nized conspiracy, we could hope that the federal
government's (arguably belated) focus on the fires
might one day bring an end to them. Indeed, the
president should be applauded for not only orga-
nizing a task force comprised of the FBI, the ATF,
and the Departments of Justice and the Treasury,
but for supporting bipartisan legislation to, as he

said in his address, "make it easier to bring fed-
eral prosecutions against those who attack hous-
es of worship."
But, unfortunately, no combination of laws and
law enforcement will be able to match the intol-
erance behind this wave of violence.
So we must again join those who have this week
condemned these acts. As the president said,
"Every family has a right to expect that when they
walk into a church or synagogue or mosque each
week they will find a house of worship, not the
charred remnants of a hateful act done by cow-
ards in the night."
And we ought to support Jewish groups such
as the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-
Defamation League, which have made their voic-
es heard this year.
Several weeks ago the AJCommittee spoke out,
saying: "Civilized so-
ciety cannot tolerate
such violations of com-
mon decency. Jews,
who over the cen-
turies ... have seen
their synagogues
burned to the ground,
are particularly sen-
sitive to the brutal
racism that the torch-
ing of churches repre-
In January, the
ADL wrote to Attor-
ney General Janet
Reno calling for na-
tional attention on the
fires. More recently,
representatives of the
group have met with
pastors of black
churches and with law-enforcement officials to
share their expertise on extremist groups and se-
curity for community institutions.
And we can join the efforts of many congrega-
tions around the country — particularly members
of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations
— that have participated in the effort to raise mon-
ey to rebuild churches.
But ultimately we must speak out against the
intolerance that leads to violent racist actions.
Without pointing fingers we must acknowledge
that we not only hear it but often don't speak out
against it and occasionally indulge in it.
As the president urged: "We must come to-
gether, black and white alike, to smother the fires
of hatred that fuel this violence."

Dry Bones

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Paper Provides
No Security

Remembering Israel
Is A Jewish Country

I am a conservative who has not
yet made aliyah, and I disagree
with Labor's peace plan.
Nonetheless, I have not shown
the courage of my convictions by
making aliyah, and so suffered in
silence. That is, I have voted by
resting comfortably in the Unit-
ed States. I only hope that Amer-
ica's Jewish liberals can show
some dignity and refrain from
spinelessly criticizing from the
poolside or from some West
Bloomfield coffeeshop.
Likud wants peace as badly as
Labor does. Likud, however, does
not trust people who only months
ago endorsed the destruction of
Israel through the Palestinian
National Covenant. Paper does
not provide security. Ideally,
goodwill provides it. That is, un-
fortunately, quite absent in that
region. There, only physical se-
curity is real. Israel's peace with
Egypt has lasted, in part, because
of the enormous buffer zone the
vast Sinai peninsula provides.
The border with Syria is quiet
largely because Israel can pierce
Assad's heart via the Golan.
Peace flourishes only with secu-
rity. In all the years Jews have
lived in the Middle East, one les-
son is clear: The Arabs respect
strength and attack weakness.
To believe otherwise is folly.
In particular response to Ken-
neth Knoppow's letter, I can only
ask to what peace does he refer?
Since the "peace" agreement,
there has been a higher rate of
terrorist incidents in Israel than
at any time previously. There has
been a higher mortality rate from
terrorism than at any time pre-
viously. If this is the peace over-
tire from the Arabs, I would hate
to see them angry.
Arafat has often pledged to dis-
mantle Israel in small pieces be-
fore another full assault. History
should teach us caution. Peace is
possible, but it is a peace that
must come about from a position
of strength. It is a peace that
must come at its own pace. Is
Peace Now!" preferable to a more
mature and real peace? I prefer
peace without widows and or-

Thank you for your Editor's Note-
book of June 7. I too am very op-
timistic. It is important to
remember that Israel is a Jewish
country. Bibi Netanyahu received
a whopping majority of the Jew-
ish votes, which means that the
Jews were not supportive of the
direction of the Peres government
and obviously wanted a change.
Remember the Arabs dancing
on the roofs as the Scuds were
falling? Where do you think their
loyalties lie? Had Peres been suc-
cessful, it would have been due
to the Arab votes. Thus you
would have had Arabs making
decisions that would affect every
Jew in the world. Frightening.

Keith Brookenthal


San Francisco

Rae Sharfman

West Bloomfield

Peace Promises
And Sacrifice

The letter on Israel's election (The
Jewish News, "Sad Day For

Peace," June 7, 1996) was wrong
from the Israeli and American
viewpoints. Its premise, that
Shimon Peres (Labor) would have
won if for example, the Arab bus-
bomb murders in Jerusalem had
been delayed, may have been cor-
rect. But the instances cannot be
changed, delayed or argued just
because Peres wanted the facts
to be different. Yitzhak Rabin's
and Peres' slogan was "the Jews
died for peace." Their slogan was
backwards. The wholesale Jew-
ish murders were the price for
Jewish surrender.
From its introduction of being
"a sad day" to its conclusion of
"land for peace," the letter could
have been written by the Pales-
tinian Liberation Organization
or even Hamas. But no, it was
composed by a Jew, afraid of his
Jewishness and who sacrificed
his people's land for the Arab
"promises of peace sometime in
the future."
It is true that the PLO and
Hamas cooperated in the nu-
merous bus bombings in
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as a way
of compelling Israel to yield ter-
ritory. That the bombings de-
feated the PLO in the Israeli

PEACE page 22

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