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March 05, 2004 - Image 88

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-03-05

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fter cover-
fund-raising events
and parlor meetings
in the past six
months, I found a
certain dominating
theme: Jews around
KIRSBAUM the world are in trou-
ble, and the situation
is hopeless.
"There's no guaran-
tee that there won't be another terrorism
attack," a terrorism expert said at a fall
parlor meeting. "It's almost guaranteed
there will be — certainly abroad, and
most likely here in the United States
and, probably at some point in time,
involving WMD. The chances of that
being a Jewish target are good."
At an American Society of the
University of Haifa event at
Congregation Beth Ahm on Dec. 8, a
professor spoke to a group of 25.
"Israel and the United States are
hated in Europe because they are the
only true democracies with a back-
bone," he said. "Before they wanted a
world Judenfiri, free of Jews. Now they
are asking why should a Jewish state
This message of hopelessness and
despair in the Jewish world was local-
ized when student leaders from the
University of Michigan Hillel's
American Movement for Israel spoke to
50 Jewish high school students at
Congregation Shaarey Zedek's Laker
Education and Youth Complex in West
Bloomfield last month.
Citing anti-Israel sentiment on cam-
pus by 200 active pro-Palestinian stu-
dents, the Hillel student leader told sto-
ries that made U-M almost sound like a
dangerous place for the 6,000 Jewish
students. "Israel is the only place where
a Jew can feel safe," he said at one
After six months of listening, and
watching the yearlong coverage of Mel
Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ,
I assumed that the positions of most
Jewish organizations had slipped into a
bunker mentality.
So it took me by surprise to hear Ken
Jacobson of the Anti-Defamation
League when he gave a somewhat posi-
tive message to donors during an invita-
tion-only event at Temple Shir Shalom
on Monday night.

Although he said The Passion of the
Christ was a far worse movie than even
he thought it would be, Jacobson noted
several positive reactions — statements
from the National Conference of
Bishops specifically related to the movie
and reiterating all the teachings of the
Vatican and the National Conference
over the last 40 years about how to
teach about the Passion and how to
teach about the Jews.
Jacobson, ADEs senior associate
national director, also had nice things to
say about France.
"With all the bad mouthing of
France, justifiably over the last 21/2 years,
in the last two months French President
Chirac made a statement that said, 'You
know something, we have a problem
with anti-Semitism in this country."'
Chirac followed his message by
appointing a committee to report on
what the government is doing to deal
with the problem, and some school pro-
grams were developed, Jacobson said.
He said when Israel's President Moshe
Katsav visited Chirac two weeks ago,
rather than waiting for Katsav to climb
a staircase to meet him, Chirac walked
down the stairs and escorted him up, a
symbolic gesture of friendship.
I heard more positive statements
about the state of Jews around the
world in Jacobson's 45-minute speech
than I've heard in the past six months.
"I am in no way belittling the prob-
lems," he said Tuesday. "We're living in
a world unlike the 1930s and 1940s;
the Jews are not helpless and not hope-
less. We have enemies all over, but we're
not alone in the world."
He said the ADL wrote a letter to
President Chirac and the French gov-
ernment last week. The letter acknowl-
edged the steps taken in the last two
months to combat anti-Semitism, but it
has yet to be reported to the Jewish
"Jews are stilltunctioning today as if
France is, at this moment, as it was up
to three months ago," he said. "We
believe very strongly that when people
do the right thing, we've got to
acknowledge it.
"We need to talk about the things
that we can do with the friends that we
have, but none of that is to minimize
the seriousness of the situation," he said.
"But to continually talk about how
everything is terrible as if there's nothing
we can do about it, is really debilitating,
and not very healthy." [1

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