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February 06, 2004 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-02-06

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We prefer letters that relate to articles in the Jewish News. We reserve the right to
edit or reject letters. Brevity is encouraged. Letter writers generally are limited to
one letter per 4-6 week period, space permitting.
Letters must contain the name, address and title of the writer, and a daytime
telephone number. Original copies must be hand signed. Mail to the Jewish News
at 29200 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 110, Southfield, MI 48034;
fax to (248) 304-8885; or e-mail to: rsklar@thejewishnews.com

Hillel Director's
View Demoralizing

University of Michigan. Hillel
Executive Director Michael Brooks'
commentary ("End The
Preoccupation," Jan. 23, page 27)
demands a response. His statement
that Israeli advocacy organizations are
costing us the hearts and minds of
young American Jews turns truth on
its head. His proposals would institu-
tionalize guilt and shame among
young Jews.
He condemns "the occupation" and
states, "Israelis want a Palestinian
state." He represents his own agenda
as the views of "most of these [silent
on Israel] students." He ascribes their
silence to Israel's failure to adopt his
agenda. Mr. Brooks states that most
Jewish students would like to be
proud of Israel, "but feel...[sad...and
frustrated] at the ... suffering of the
Palestinian people." With due respect,
he must be living in a parallel universe
because most Jews whom I know, of
all ages, are sick and tired of being tar-
geted because they are Americans or
Jews or supporters of Israel.
His attitude clearly has a corrosive-
effect on the situation of Jews at the
University of Michigan, and is one of
the reasons that Israel activism has
been much more successful elsewhere.
For numerous examples of this, see
Jonathan Kessler's article in the Dec.
26 issue of Forward, "Pro-Israel
Activism Makes Comeback on
Campus." Does Mr. Brooks not fath-
om the possibility that many of these
Jews are afraid and that his political
opposition to Israel means that there
is no voice at the pinnacle of an
important University of Michigan
Jewish organization that is strongly
Zionist in fact as well as in word?
Articles such as Mr. Brooks' weaken
the resolve of some Jewish students. It
must leave hostile, militant Arabs
laughing that Jews will drop the lead-
ership mantle so completely at such a
crucial time. If I were a University of
Michigan student, I would be demor-
alized far more by Mr. Brooks' article
than I ever could be by the written
and spoken words of [former
University of South Florida Professor]
Sami Al-Arian, an acknowledged
The proposal to remake Israel to his
political liking so that the mass of
silent students whom he claims to
speak for can, in theory, be proud of
ISrael reads like George Orwell's 084.
To all of those who have brought

2/ 6



Israel advocacy to the University of
Michigan, I say, thank you and Am
Yisrael Chai [the nation of Israel lives].
To the Jewish students at the
University of Michigan, as well as the
management of the Hillel House, I
can only give my strongest recommen-
dation that Mr. Brooks be terminated
from his position. This will speak
more loudly and clearly to pro-
Palestinian advocates than any of the
points in Mr. Brooks' proposed con-
versation, in which he proposes to
turn history on its head and cause
pro-Palestinian advocates to engage in
the conversation of his choice.
Eric Rosenberg
Farmington Hills

Jewish Students
Need The Facts


University of Michigan Hillel
Executive Director Michael Brooks
("End The Preoccupation," Jan. 23,
Page 27) claims Jewish college stu-
dents feel alienated from Israel
because Israel allegedly mistreats the
Palestinian Arabs. He says the way to
"win over this generation of young
Jews" is "to build support for a
Palestinian state."
My experience among college stu-
dents indicates quite the opposite.
During the past two years, as direc-
tor of the Zionist Organization of
America's Campus Activism Network,
I have visited dozens of college cam-
puses and met with thousands of
Jewish students of a wide range of reli-
gious and political backgrounds.
They are not ashamed of Israel or
alienated by Israel's self-defense tactics.
But they are easily intimidated by pro-
Arab propaganda because they are not
equipped with the facts. That's what
we at the ZOA provide.
Pro-Arab students talk about the
"Occupation." We teach Jewish stu-
dents to respond that the
"Occupation" ended long ago — dur-
ing 1995-1997. Israel withdrew from
the cities where 98 percent of
Palestinian Arabs reside.
Pro-Arab students talk about "settle-
ments." We teach Jewish students to
respond that Palestinian Arab con-
struction in Judea-Samaria-Gaza is
proceeding at 10 times the rate of
Jewish construction.
Pro-Arab students talk about
"racism." We teach Jewish students to
respond that the Arab demand to
expel Jews from the territories is the
real racism, and the Palestinian Arab

version of apartheid is just as bad as
South African apartheid.
Pro-Arab students talk about the
"West Bank" as if it belongs to the
Arabs. We teach Jewish students that
the Jewish historical, religious and
legal right to Judea and Samaria is far
stronger than the Arabs' claims.
Pro-Arab students say a state of
"Palestine" is the key to peace. We
teach Jewish students that creating
such a state would force Israel back to
the indefensible nine-mile-wide bor-
ders of 1967, putting terrorists within
easy striking distance of Israel's major
population centers. That's a recipe for
war, not peace.
Michael Brooks is wrong.
Abandoning Israel and promoting the
Palestinian Arab cause will not give
Jewish students pride. Give them the
facts about the Palestinian Authority's
fascism and racism, and teach them
about the Jewish people's right to the
land of Israel — and then they will
feel proud and be able to effectively
respond to Israel's detractors.
Julie Sager
director, Campus Activism Network
Zionist Organization of America
Farmington Hills

Ballot Initiative
Coverage Lacking

I was disappointed that your article on
the affirmative action ballot initiative
("Taking Action," Jan. 23, page 18)
was one-sided.
Your article devotes only one para-
graph to the Michigan Civil Rights
Initiative, the group in favor of a con-
stitutional- amendment that would ban
the use of race and gender in govern-
ment hiring. The article devotes 10
paragraphs to those opposed to the
initiative. You do not quote any repre-
sentative of the Michigan Civil Rights
Initiative on the proposed benefits of
the initiative, but have several pro-
affirmative action representatives giv-
ing their opinions in opposition to the
initiative. The one picture for the arti-
cle was, of course, of those opposed to
the initiative.
Simple fairness would dictate that a,
news article — as opposed to an edi-
torial — present both sides of a con-
troversial issue such as affirmative
action. You could have provided sever-
al reasons why a ban on affirmative
action in public hiring would be good
for the state including:
• Affirmative action by a govern-
mental entity is racist in the true sense

of the word. It makes judgments
about a person based solely on that
person's race. In light of our history,
Jews, in particular, should be sensitive
to any racial categorizing.
• Affirmative action is demeaning in
that it appears to support the (in my
view false) idea that certain races need
more governmental assistance than
others to succeed in our society.
• It tarnishes and demeans the
accomplishments of those targeted by
affirmative action by calling into
question whether those accomplish-
ments were the result of the individ-
ual or the result of governmental assis-
There are other reasons not to sup-
port affirmative action, of course. But
the point is that your article men-
tioned none of them.
I urge the Jewish News to present a
more fair and balanced presentation
of the affirmative action issue. Only
in this way would you do justice to
this important and controversial issue.

Steven Susser


Option Exciting

As a parent of a Hillel student, I am
pleased that Hillel Day School of
Metropolitan Detroit is opening its
doors to the community for lateral
entry of sixth-graders beginning in the
fall of 2004 ("Middle School
Alternative," Jan. 16, page 17).
Middle school is a difficult period
for many young adolescents and can
challenge them with serious choices of
right and wrong behavior. Hillel is a
great environment for students to
begin their journey into adulthood in
an environment that promotes right
My two older children started a
public middle school and switched
into private middle schools at a time
when Hillel was not offering this
option, although I wish it had been
available. My daughter is currently a
fifth-grader at Hillel and I look for-
ward to middle school under the edu-
cational leadership of Head of School
Steve Freedman. New students com-
ing in will benefit from the child-cen-
tered middle school that he is institut-
I encourage all parents of upcoming
middle school-age students to explore
this exciting option.
Karen Kahn
West Bloomfield

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