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August 15, 2003 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-08-15

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3X,Opinion •

Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:

Dry Bones

This Side Of The Fence

L et's be clear about what this fence is and
what it is not.
It is a security barrier that Israel has
had to put up to make it harder for the
would-be bombers to cross over from the West
Bank and blow up Israeli civilians at markets,
pizza parlors and discotheques, and on buses.
It is going up as a reaction to a hideous pattern
of terror that the Palestinians chose to pursue after
rejecting an incredibly generous peace settlement
that Israel's Ehud Barak offered them three years
ago at Camp David and again at Taba, in Egypt.
It is the same thing as the fence Israel has built
around the Gaza Strip and at the borders with
Lebanon and Syria.
It is no more illegal than the barricades
the United States has put up along the
Rio Grande to slow the influx of illegally
entering immigrants and, perhaps, it will be more
effective. Its historic antecedent is the Great Wall
of China. In its intent, it is the same as check-
points at airports or security doors for businesses
or a lock on the front door of homes. The point is
to keep the bad guys out.
It is not a wall to enclose the Palestinians, who
are free if they choose to cross over into Jordan —
therefore, it is nothing like the ghetto walls that
for centuries Jews were required to live behind in
European cities. It also bears no comparison with
the Berlin Wall that the Soviet Union put up to
keep East Germans from seeing the success of
Western democracy.
Yes, it is expensive, but what price should we
put on the lives of the more than 800 Israelis who
have died in terror attacks since the latest
Palestinian uprising started 34 months ago? Yes, it
interferes with the lives of many Palestinians, just


as the Palestinian terrorism has dis-
rupted ordinary life in the Jewish
When Palestinians started the ter-
ror, did they think there would be no
consequences or that the conse-
quences would somehow be preferable
to what they could have accomplished
by continuing the peace talks?
Shouldn't they — and the rest of the
world — consider the possibility that
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa
Martyrs Brigades are more responsible
for the fence than is the Israeli leader-
The security fence may
not be completely compati-
ble with the spirit of the
road map for peace that the U.S.,
Russia, the United Nations and the
European Union drafted, but nor is it
necessarily an impediment to achiev-
ing the map's goals of building mutu-
al trust that could lead to a long-
range permanent settlement. It is
surely easier for Israel to negotiate
when the threat of suicide bombing is
reduced — the primary goal of the
Israel should, however, do a great
deal more to assure the civilized world
that it does not intend to make the path of the
current fence a permanent feature of the land-
scape. Israel should devise a convincing way of
committing to a secure but less intrusive barrier
that follows negotiated boundaries once the terror


Yes To Public Schools

he bell will ring soon in school districts
around the state. It's not a sound that
Jews should ignore, even if they have chil-
dren in a private or Jewish day school, or
no children of school age.
Public schools are a hallmark of the democratic
ideals we so cherish as Americans. To ignore them
is to unwittingly belittle the freedom and opportu-
nity in this great land.
Such schools are open to everyone
regardless of family pedigree — so they're
a national birthright. They're where many
kids first encounter racial and ethnic
As Jewish Americans, it's our obligation to stand
with the secular community in support of public
schools without giving up our support of Jewish
day and congregational schools.
Most Jewish children are enrolled in a public





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school — reason enough for Jews to care about
their local district.
But other reasons also resonate.
Young people in school today will make the deci-
sions that affect us all tomorrow. And it's in every-
one's interest to make sure tomorrow's leaders are
well educated.
The Jewish virtue of tikkun olam, of repair of the
_world, requires that we embrace schools caught in
the backdraft of a shifting tax base. We're obligated
to give underprivileged students at least a basic
For generations, public education has
benefited minorities and immigrants.
Through toil and determination, Jewish
immigrants educated in their neighbor-
hood schools have helped build our major cities,
including Detroit.
As school policy and courses are publicly debat-
ed, the Jewish community must be vigilant of a
range of issues, from improving literacy to planning
global studies to keeping teachers in step with kids
who have different thirsts and aptitudes for learn-


Related coverage: page 65

Kt.lowS GNAT
11 1

Of course, it would be wonderful if the fence
were not needed, because the Palestinians had
truly rejected their hatred of the Jewish state and
their incitement against Israeli civilians. But as
Tuesday's two suicide bombing attacks showed
once again, for now the fence must stand.

We can further stay engaged with our public
schools via parent groups, board meetings and dis-
trict elections.
The Jewish Community Council's Detroit Jewish
Coalition for Literacy, which coordinates school-
based tutoring programs for young students, also is
worth supporting.
Meanwhile, the fight for separation of church
and state in public school programs continues.
After summer recess, tuition vouchers will be
debated again in the U.S. House (HR 2556). The
bill would allow public school funds in the nation's
capital to be diverted to non-public schools, includ-
ing religious schools. The Senate will tackle the
School Readiness Act of 2003. The act would per-
mit Head Start employers to use religious discrimi-
nation when hiring, reports the JCCouncil.
Schools vary from district to district, but together
reflect the vibrant tapestry that is America. They
give all kids a chance to be educated, contribute
and succeed.
Ultimately, however, public schools are only as
responsive and accountable as the stakeholders —
the taxpayers — demand them to be. ❑




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