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Vigil More Fiery
The piece "Controversial Vigil" (Sept.
12, page 22) was somewhat vague. The
article made Jewish Witnesses for Peace
seem to be more moderate than it actu-
ally was. I know. I was there. I spoke
with several people.
Henry Herskovitz, the leader of this
group, did not begin his conversation
with me or anyone else with, "What's
important here is to get the two sides
back to the negotiating table so that an
independent Palestine can exist free
without Israeli occupation next to a safe
and secure Israel." He began describing
how Zionism was racism and colonial-
His sign had a picture of Palestinians
at a checkpoint with the caption, "This
is NOT my Judaism." Repeatedly, I
asked him if he thought it was appropri-
ate that they were protesting at Hillel at
a social event. He said absolutely,
because there are pro-Israel student
groups at Hillel (which is true).
When asked if it would be OK to
protest in front of a mosque against vio-
lence and anti-Semitism within
Palestinian society, he replied that it
would be offensive and racist.
Apparently, protesting outside a house
of worship at a social event is not OK
unless it is a Jewish house of worship.
His goal was to influence Jewish col-
lege students to become anti-Zionists.
But with two pro-Israel groups who
contain members who span the political
spectrum (American Movement for
Israel and. Progressive Israel Alliance), it
will be hard for him to try and persuade
people to join him. And to protest out-
side Hillel at a social event made every-
one feel very uncomfortable.
There are so many students at Hillel
who believe in a just peace for both
Israel and the Palestinians; a peace with
two states side-by-side.
Jewish Witnesses for Peace does not
represent peace; a peace without Israel is
a peace without justice, a peace without
fairness, in other words, a false peace.
Detroit Jewry Got
State Funds In 2000
The work of the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit, its agencies and
lay leadership in securing funds for
Jewish human services in the current
state budget, as reported the Jewish
News last week, is highly commend-
able. There was one factual error,
though, in that issue's editorial on
this topic: this is not the first time
state monies have come directly to
local Jewish agencies ("Cashing In,"
Sept. 12, page 37).
In 2000, the Jewish Community
Council, working with the Michigan
Jewish Conference and Lansing offi-
cials, was involved in securing
$288,000 from the state budget for
capital improvements to fix, repair
and upgrade the group homes of
JARC and Kadima, with Federation
acting as the fiduciary.
Through coordinated collaboration
between Federation, Jewish agencies
and lay leaders, the community will
work to ensure that the State of
Michigan will continue to direct
needed funds to our distinguished
Jewish human service agencies.
director, government relations
Jewish Community Council
of Metropolitan Detroit
When I drive to downtown Detroit
and see the $800 million worth of
new sports stadiums in a city that
has a malfunctioning school and
library system and many deteriorat-
ed neighborhoods, I say to myself,
Now, unfortunately, when I walk
into the refurbished Jewish
Community Center in West
Bloomfield, after reading that about
$33 million have been spent on this
project ("Launching The Center,"
Sept. 12, page 43), I have a similar
reaction. We had a beautiful, world-
class building and health club there
prior to this; it was raved about by
visitors from all over. Why did we
need this project?
Now, we are going through a peri-
od in which our local Jewish schools
are experiencing grave financial dif-
ficulties, and we read reports of
growing poverty within American
Jewry and, of course, the tragic diffi-
culties faced by our brethren in
When I think of how much could
have been done for the Jewish peo-
ple locally and around the world
with even a portion of that $33 mil-
lion, it fills me with dread and
Torah learning and tzedakah
(righteousness) are the two great pil-
lars of the Jewish people. This mas-
sive project at the JCC has shown
great neglect for these central princi-
pals. We may have gained a building
that is a little more aesthetically
pleasing than it used to be but, as a
community, I think we've lost a bit
of our soul. It's certainly something
to think about as we stand in judg-
ment next week.
Thomas I. Schwartz
A Minor Matter?
The Jewish News is to be commend-
ed for its recent coverage of the
Pollard case, including two recent
articles by Edwin Black ("Last
Hope," Aug. 15, page 17; "Awaiting
Decision," Sept. 5, page 26).
Those who have followed the
Pollard case over the years are aware
of the significant role former
Defense Secretary Caspar
Weinberger played in persuading
Federal Judge Aubrey Robinson to
sentence Jonathan Pollard to life in
prison on the charge of spying for
Prior to sentencing, Weinberger
provided judge Robinson with a
secret memo, claiming that Pollard's
spying caused irreparable damage to
That was the claim Weinberger
made in 1986. Now some 17 years
later, he has come close to admitting
he was wrong. This is the conclusion
one draws from his statement
appearing in Black's Aug. 15 article,
stating "the Pollard matter was com-
This new assessment raises a trou-
bling question: Why is Pollard still
serving a life sentence for a "com-
paratively minor matter"?
One might further ask why has
Weinberger changed his opinion? To
answer definitively, one would need
access to his still-secret memo to
Without access, one may speculate
that his new assessment has some-
thing to do with Iraq. Prior to his
arrest, Pollard, it is believed, sup-
plied Israel with classified informa-
tion on Iraqi weapons systems. And
this, in turn, could damage U.S.
relations with Iraq, harming nation-
al security, so Weinberger believed
when he was defense secretary.
This damage assessment now
seems absurd, following two wars
with Iraq; however, it did not in
1986. And so, as a result, the Pollard
matter has become "comparatively
minor" in 2003.
A Must Read
Discussions with many Jewish
Americans reveals how little do they
know about what is happening in
Israel. This ignorance prevents each
Jew from representing Israel when a
discussion about Israel takes place.
Now Alan Dershowitz is trying to
fill the gap by writing a book The
Case for Israel. This book should be
read by anybody who is interested in
Israel and be advertised and sold by
our synagogues and other Jewish
institutions and even mentioned on
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
If there are those who complain
that Israel is not doing enough to
explain her position than this book
is a partial answer; you just have to
Isaac Barr, M.D.
At Shir Tikvah
Thank you very much for the nice
article you did on our Klezmer band
Schmaltz ("And All That Schmaltz,"
Sept. 12, page 76). Friends are
already calling me, and as a well-
written publicity piece will do, I
expect your readers who don't know
us will consider Schmaltz for their
Having said that, I feel compelled
to correct a factual error, since I'm
loathe to take credit for something
unearned. Your article states that I
have been hired as the pianist at
Congregation Shir Tikvah. While I
have been hired by other congrega-
tions, the truth is that I volunteer as
the pianist at Shir Tikvah and have
since joining in 1991.