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March 07, 2003 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-03-07

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


Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:

The Detroit Way


eventh- through 12th-graders in 12 Central
Galilee schools and three schools in high-ter-
ror areas enjoy a structured, supervised after-
school setting, with tutoring and a
hot meal, while their parents work.
Kids ages 6-15, in areas fraught with dan-
geror hardship, are playing basketball and
soccer in after-school programs in Netanya and
Jerusalem instead of roaming the streets.
Survivors of Palestinian terror are being helped
with therapeutic social activities and other kinds of
support. Children orphaned by terrorism will receive
special financial aid when they turn 21.
Older adults who live in vulnerable parts of the
Central Galilee, Detroit Jewry's Partnership 2000
region, get a daily call that reports on danger alerts
and inquires about urgent needs.
These good deeds, and many others, are possible
thanks to Detroit Jewry's Israel emergency campaign.
And make no mistake: This campaign matters.
It's a people-to-people connection that has made a
difference in the Jewish state over the past year. We've
helped brighten the lives of beleaguered Israelis at all
levels of society, and in important, measurable ways.
Survivors of Palestinian terror, especially, benefit
directly and profoundly from our special generosity
that goes beyond Federation's Annual Campaign,
which so richly serves Detroit and other Jewish corn-
munities around the world.
Such good will is rooted in wanting to bond mean-
ingfully with Israelis, who are battling the effects of
29 months of Palestinian-incited suicide bombings,
sniper fire, roadside bombs and attempted attacks.
Our help is a sign of solidarity. But more impor-
tantly, it resonates with tzedakah.
Last year's Israel emergency campaign raised $7.5
million. This year, the March drive hopes to raise $4
million. Nancy and Stephen Grand will match each
one-time Campaign gift dollar for dollar.
The need is greater than ever.
Amid the mindless terror, which has killed more
than 750 Israelis and foreign civilians since
September 2000, Israel's economy is reeling as job
loss, hunger, anxiety and fear take their toll. Poverty
is now 20 percent, affecting one in four kids, or
almost 55,000.
This backdrop includes international isolation, few
tourists, a high-tech plummet and near-empty retail
shops. National defense costs have shot up as taxpay-
er money for services and education has fallen off.
"In my view," says Robert Aronson, CEO of the
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Department,
which administers the Grand Challenge Israel
Emergency Fund, "Israel is a country currently slip-
ping into a Third World economy. There are still
wealthy people in Israel, but the gap between rich
and poor is growing."
North American Jewish federations are rising to
Israel's aid in many ways. Meeting the basic needs of
families of children is the Detroit way. The economic
freefall has begun to haunt terror survivors, poor
immigrants, welfare families and frail seniors.

Related coverage: page 10

The Grand Challenge initiative for Israel also seeks
to attract enough $2,500 scholarships to bring up to
190 Israeli teens and support staff to Fresh Air
Society's Tamarack Camps in Ortonville
this summer.
Further, it will encourage Detroit congre-
gations and day schools to individually
adopt an Israeli school and collectively raise $500,000
to enhance the extended day in Israel for school-aged
children — many from impoverished homes.


Demand accountability, don't be afraid to suggest
opportunities for giving and know your spending
limits — but give to Federation's 2003 Annual
Give, too, to the Grand Challenge Israel
Emergency Fund, a lifeline for Israelis tossed by the
riptide of terror or its fierce after-effects.
Know that your kindness will help Jews — locally,
nationally and internationally — who are desperate
for care and compassion. ❑

Where Dissent Is A Virtue

mong the arguments President George W.
Bush makes for "regime change" in Iraq
— code words for getting rid of Saddam
Hussein — is the wishful proposition
that a democratized Iraq would serve as a
model for similar change in other Arab
countries. The presumably stunning suc-
cess of a Westernized Iraq would include
economic bounty and the flowering of the human
rights of expression and self-governance.
The fact is that the Arab countries have had just
that sort of example for the last 50 years: Israel,
where every form of democratic political opposi-
tion gets full voice and where, until the terrorism
resumed two year ago, the economy was so boom-
ing that even Palestinians were getting good jobs.


The Arab monarchies and dictatorships have
generally chosen to stick with their historic struc-
tures that revolve around a strongman and a pater-
nalistic and controlling central authority. The
exceptions, like Egypt, have adopted a
kind of procedural democracy with nom-
inally open elections and vestigial capi-
talism but without the substantive pro-
tections of the rule of law or economic vibrancy
that other Third World countries are enjoying.
America may or may not go to war with Iraq
and may or may not get rid of Hussein. But it
should not go in believing that it is likely to
inspire the flowering of democracy in a Mideast
that so deliberately ignores the region's greatest
success story. ❑


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