Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:
e would never say it, but Jeff Kaye is a
basic needs like towels, insulin and food.
hero. At great personal risk, he went to a
They also lacked Jewish ritual objects
country that he had never been to and
like siddurim and tefillin.
helped people he had never met.
Into that hellhole, Kaye brought com-
The secret sojourns were to post-Saddam Iraq. And
passion and purpose. He also brought
the people that he assisted were all who remained from
toughness, which was central to comfort-
a once-thriving cultural and mercantile center for Jews.
ing and befriending people who were
That he went to a lawless land as a messenger of relief emotionally and physically spent.
and hope underscores what kind of person Jeff Kaye is.
Helping them relocate or make aliyah
Detroit Jewry is lucky to have a link to Kaye. He was
was his intent, but his first order of busi-
our Israel emissary from 1993-1997. He's now resource
ness was extending succor and refuge —
development director for the Jewish Agency for Israel
and restoring their dignity.
Kaye is often called the best Israel
— and a man truly on a mission.
Iraq was home to 130,000 Jews in the 1940s, but
emissary the Detroit Jewish community
ever had. Growing up in the
most fled to Israel in the shadows of Israel's
diaspora gave him a different
war for independence in 1948.
view of and connection to the
In the wake of Saddam's fall, the humani-
tarian agency shifted into overdrive to get a
Jewish state. He understands
relief team to Iraq to check on the welfare of about
what it means to be a Jew outside of
three-dozen Jews thought to still be in Baghdad despite
The Jewish Agency helps imperiled
34 years of religious persecution. The number of Jews
could be higher, but it's hard to know; many assimilated
Jews anywhere in the world. Kaye has
or hid their religion after Saddam took power in 1969.
been one of its top ambassadors. He's
Kaye was a member of that first relief team as well as
committed to the core of what Judaism
is all about, namely, helping to ease suf-
Thanks to the Jewish Agency and its partner, the
The years that Jeff Kaye served as
New York-based Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, at
least 25 Jews have left Iraq. The trips have been special
shaliach in Detroit helped shape the
for Kaye. His wife's parents are Iraqi exiles who went to
heroic path he walks today. And two
titans of the Detroit Federation, Robert
Israel in 1951. Kaye was raised in Scotland and made
Aronson and Jane Sherman, have been
aliyah after college.
Kaye found that Baghdad's Jews were persecuted
important mentors in his embrace of
peasants. Their property wasn't safe, and they lacked
tikkun olam, of repair of the world. ❑
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Tell It Like It Is
kay, who's trying to kid whom about
Could it be any plainer that most of the
physical attacks on Jews and Jewish institu-
tions is being carried out by Muslim youths? Or that
most of the speechmaking against Jews is coming
from the extreme left wing and extreme right wing?
And that broadcast and print media occasionally
throw fuel on the embers of anti-Semitism?
So what could possibly have possessed the
European Union's European Monitoring Center for
Racism and Xenophobia to try so hard to squelch its
own report saying exactly that? Could it be that if it
accepted the plain facts about who hates the Jews, it
might have to start doing something about remedy-
ing the problem at its major sources instead
of trying to appease the extremists who are
at the heart of this evil.
Alarmed by a wave of incidents that
included the beating of Jewish youths and arson at
synagogues in the summer of 2002, the center com-
missioned the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism
at the Technical University in Berlin to look at the
causes and offer suggestions for future action. The
report that came back was too clear about who and
what was to blame. Heck, it might even have offend-
For example, "the threatening nature of the situa-
tion, in particular for the Jewish communities, arose
because in most of the countries monitored the
increasing number of anti-Semitic attacks, committed
frequently by young Arabs-Muslims and by far-right
extremists, was accompanied by a sharp criticism of
Israeli politics across the entire political spectrum, a
criticism that in some cases employed anti-Semitic
stereotypes." Oh, no, said Monitoring Center offi-
cials; way too simplistic.
Similarly, the center faulted the report because it
"could be seen as suggesting that individual acts of
anti-Semitism are indicative of anti-Semitism being
endemic among Arab-North African
Muslim immigrants,' 'the Muslim popula-
tion,' 'young Muslims,' 'young Arab-
Muslims.' Using such broad and general
categories seems to be based on the
assumption that homogeneous communities exist
that share certain traits by virtue of their ethnic or
religious background. It is highly questionable to
hold certain population groups collectively account-
able for the acts of individuals or fringe elements
within those groups."
Of course, not all Muslims are anti-Semitic. But
the center's weasel-worded ducking is what you
would expect from the majority of the Arab and
Muslim world, not from a supposedly neutral multi-
national agency financed by the countries of Western
Europe. No wonder the center was embarrassed when
Jewish groups and others managed to get a copy of
the suppressed report and post it on their Web sites.
As the report correctly noted, Europe needs to
agree on the definitions of anti-Semitic crimes and
anti-Semitic speech and then treat those incidents
with real urgency. Countries like France, Belgium,
the Netherlands and even England need to recognize
that tolerating Jew-bashing will not solve the prob-
lems of their immigrant communities. Other coun-
tries must recognize how their national policies siding
with the Palestinians allows the trouble-makers to
heap indiscriminate blame on Israel and perpetuate
The Protocols of the Elders ofZion beliefs about Jews
controlling the world.
The Berlin researchers did a fair report for the
European Monitoring Center for Racism and
Xenophobia. The center and the whole European
Union should just get on with the business of dealing
with the problem in sensible and effective ways
instead of bending over backwards to appease the
anti-Semitic culprits.. .