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March 24, 2011 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-03-24

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Publisher: Arthur M. Horwitz
Chief Operating Officer: F. Kevin Browett
Interim Editor: Alan Hitsky
Contributing Editor: Robert Sklar

Points Of View

Send letters to: letters@thejewishnews.com

Publisher's Notebook


Middle East Turmoil
Underlines Unknown

Walk for Israel participants make their way south on Orchard Lake Road last year.


ith anti-Israel and
anti-Semitic venom
spewing from the
mouths of local college students
and those professing to have
academic credentials, and one
perennially juiced-up television
sit-corn star slinging nasty barbs
against "Chaim" the producer
while another peren-
nially juiced-up high-
fashion designer sings
Nazi praises that even
Mel Brooks couldn't
script, 2011 continues
a disturbing trend
for our Jewish com-
That trend, plain
and simple, is a sus-
tained attempt by
religiously and politi-
cally motivated bigots
to delegitimize Israel as a nation-
state, to rewrite the history of the
Jewish people from biblical times
through the 20th century and to
claim that anyone who questions
their "facts" and methods is violat-
ing their freedom of speech and
succumbing to an all-powerful
Jewish cabal that controls every
thing, every body, every where
... even sharks attacking swim-
mers along the Red Sea to damage
Egypt's tourism industry.

While journalist Helen Thomas
has been covering politics and
politicians in Washington for
most of her too-long career, the
"ground zero" for her recent rants
and accompanying huzzahs from
her enablers has been the Detroit
metropolitan area. Her jaw-drop-
ping sound bites about Israel, the
Holocaust and Jewish control of
the American govern-
ment (and most other
American institutions)
borrowed and updated
pages from the anti-
Semitic playbook of
Henry Ford's Dearborn
Independent. "I only
speak the truth:' so
saith Helen.
As a Jewish commu-
nity, we have invested
considerable effort
and energy in helping
to assure the rights of others, be
they working men and women
attempting to organize unions in
the factories of the Lower East
Side or the sprawling farms of
the San Joaquin Valley, African
Americans pursuing a civil rights
agenda, other religious minorities
and atheists squeezed by inter-
pretations of our Constitution or
women seeking equality in the
workplace and control over their
own bodies. Yet when the Jewish

community is under assault
and its history being revised by
Thomas and others, these groups,
and others, remain silent, claiming
they want to demonstrate "even-
handedness." And besides, they
often say, the Jews can take care of

Shout It Out!
It's time to channel our pent-up
frustration, disappointment and
incredulity at this vitriol and
indifference in a constructive way,
one that celebrates and reaffirms
our peoplehood, our connection
with the dream and the reality of
Israel and brings us together as
a community. We're overdue for
a positive, resounding and pub-
lic expression of unity. Whether
you're young or old, religious or
secular, Republican, Democrat or
Independent, let's commit to doing
that on Sunday, May 15.
Why May 15? That's when the
community's annual celebration
of Israel's independence takes
place beginning at 10 a.m. on the
grounds of Temple Shir Shalom in
West Bloomfield. The day's high
point will be a solidarity walk at
1 p.m.
For decades, Detroit's annual
Israeli Independence Day celebra-
tion and solidarity walk attracted

Standing Up on page 37


March 24 2011

mid the takedown of so many autocratic
regimes in the protest-charged Middle East
lies a pulsating concern: Every time a protest
campaign succeeds, similar upheavals elsewhere are
The net effect: Many regimes that have long held
a cold peace toward Israel — including those on the
Persian Gulf as well as Jordan and North Africa — are
now on alert and at risk.
With Middle East leadership in disarray and in flux,
Iran has seized the moment in pursuit of expanded
power and influence. As JTA tells it in a cogent March
analysis, just days after the fall of Egypt's Hosni
Mubarak, Tehran sent two warships to sail through
the Suez Canal, something it had not done since the
1979 Islamic Revolution. The ships docked in Syria
in what Iran's Navy chief described as a routine and
friendly visit to carry the global message of peace and
friendship. In reality, Iran used the occasion to project
self-assurance and assertiveness. Iran also continues
to supply Hamas with rockets.
Before the recent uprisings, at least Israel and the
West knew their enemies, especially those sworn
to destroy the Jewish state. Given uncertainty over
future Middle East leadership, should Israeli and
Western leaders worry?
It's time they rethink the cumulative effects of the
successful street fighting in Tunisia and Egypt, and the
ongoing struggles in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and other
points in the embattled region.
Regimes friendly toward Israel (Egypt, Jordan) or
friendly with Israel by proxy via the U.S. (Saudi Arabia,
Bahrain) or not actively hostile toward Israel (Libya,
among others) may indeed give way to elements with
greater antipathy toward Zionism and Jews.
The regional balance of power may seem to be
changing for the better, with the desire for democracy
bandied about. The problem is that hostility may blow
in — hard. There's the threat of the outlawed Muslim
Brotherhood, a Hamas backer, vying to gain stature
in Egypt. Then there's the prospect of Al Qaida filling
the power void in Tunisia and Libya. Democracy could
have the curious effect of ousting the Sunni king and
spurring Bahrain, overwhelmingly Shiite, to align with
Iran, a Shiite powerhouse.
There are sparks of hope.
The grassroots regime-busting movements — broad
based and loosely organized — have been led largely by
young men who built a following through the Internet
and social media. Islamists — the terrorist wing of
Islam as opposed to civilized Muslims — haven't been
at the forefront and Israel hasn't been a target; but
don't be fooled. Islamists may well strike in any of the
troubled countries if a clear opportunity to intervene
arises. And how long Israel can avoid the limelight,
given its penchant to be blamed for the world's ills,
remains to be seen.

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