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April 23, 2004 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-04-23

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Andrei Markovits

Steven Bayme

Shulamit Volkov

dropped at dinner parties? Yes, that's happening in Western
Dr. Susannah Heschel of Dartmouth College found it
very disturbing that Europeans abdicated their moral and
political responsibility by allowing anti-Semitic images,
language and myths when discussing the Middle East con-
She points to a recent cartoon by a British journalist that
shows Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon eating a
Palestinian baby as coming from the same poisoned well of
anti-Semitism. "It's destructive of Jews and undermines our
respect and dignity."
On the other hand, she said, the conference didn't dis-
cuss the role of racism on the Jewish. side toward the
Palestinians. "One exacerbates the other," she said.

New Anti-Zionism

Dr. David Myers of University of California-Los Angeles

Anita Shapira

discussed anti-Zionism within the Jewish community.
"There's a history of principled anti-Zionism," Dr.
Myers said. Some Jews believed that Jews didn't constitute
a nation and shouldn't settle in Israel, that it would cause
great problems for the Jews. Others, who were part of the
Bund, the organization of Jewish workers in Russia,
believed that Zionism was a distraction from the workers'
struggle and a utopian belief, Myers said.
Shapira agreed, but said there must be differentiation
before and after Israel became a state.
Dr. Shulamit Volkov of Tel Aviv University said, "Israelis
are not subjected to anti-Semitism daily as in Europe. On
the other hand, you in the diaspora don't experience carry-
ing guns and executing the policy in the West Bank and in
Gaza. You're not responsible for Israel's polices; we are," she
"If it against our moral conviction, we're thrown into
an inner conflict with other Jews in Israel who think differ-
ently. It's easier when you think an action is right, but

you're not responsible for its consequences," she
said. "When Palestinian children are shot, that's
not on your conscience, but ours."
One of the most disturbing new developments
of anti-Semitism today is its rise in Arab and
Muslim countries. Though never close to Jews,
Muslims in the past had a higher degree of toler-
ance toward Jews compared to the Christian
world, Lewis said.
Meir Litvak of Tel Aviv University said there's a
startling increase in Holocaust denial mobilized
by state media in Iran. They say Jews created the
Holocaust myth to justify the creation of Israel.
"Iran is a most vicious anti-Zionist," Litvak
said. To Iran, Israel is a symbol of Western tyran-
ny against Islam.
The old myths and prejudices against Jews are
now spread by modern communication, Shapira
added. So even countries like Japan and Korea,
with few Jews, spread ideas like Jews rule the
Steven Bayme, national director of the
American Jewish Committee, told the confer-
ence that Jews are no longer as vulnerable as they
were on the eve of the Holocaust. At that time,
80 percent of the world's Jews were affected.
NoW, 40 percent of Jews live in America and 40
percent in Israel.
"Jews learned they cannot stand alone," he
said, and Jews now have powerful allies.
However, there are no easy answers to the rise of
anti-Semitism, Bayme concluded. ❑

Bridging Divides

Ecumenical Institute's Dove Dinner honors those who make a difference.


Special to the Jewish News


t was a welcome reality check for the 160 per-
sons at the annual Dove Dinner of the Ecu-
menical Institute for Jewish-Christian Studies.
While it would be hard to find a local group
more concerned about the rising tide of European
anti-Semitism, the polarizing affect of Mel Gibson's
The Passion of the Christ and the reticence of many to
bridge religious divides and respect differences — hon-
orees at the April 15 dinner showed how much has
been done and can be done.
Theodore Bikel and Sister Rose Thering, close
friends who first met in the 1960s advocating for free-
dom for Soviet Jews, both received the James R. Lyons
Award in Christian-Jewish Relations. Bikel, a star of
stage, screen and television, fired up the audience with
the inspiring story of his civil rights activism and treat-
ed them to English, Hebrew and Yiddish renditions of
"Ani Ma'amin" ("I Believe").
Thering, who was unable to attend because of health

age" to Israel was a case where "his actions spoke
much louder than words." She also thanked the
Archdiocese of Detroit for its active involvement and
support of the programs of the Institute.
A Benedictine nun, Sister Rose reviewed Catholic
educational materials in the 1950s as part of her doc-
toral thesis, which led directly the groundbreaking
changes in Catholic teaching about Jews and others
addressed in the Vatican's 1965 Nostra Aetate declaration.
"It would not be out of line to say none of us
would be here tonight without Sister Rose," institute
Executive Director David Blewett told the audience.
Local community leaders Merton Segal and Elaine
Sturman were honored with Legacy Award for their
Actor Theodore Bikel shared the- James R. Lyons Award in many years of active support. Segal serves on the insti-
Christian Jewish Relations; Elaine Sturman and Merton
tute's advisory council and the board of trustees and is
Segal received the Ecumenical Institute's Legacy Award.
a former dinner co-chairperson and active fund-raiser.
Sturman is a former board president active with the
restrictions, spoke to the group by videotape. She
institute since participating in the first dialogue group
noted her long friendship with the late Rev. Lyons and
developed by Rev. Lyons. She remains active in many
the importance of Christian support for Israel and the
roles, including community outreach as a speakers
Jewish people. She said Pope John Paul II's "pilgrim-
bureau member. Fl



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