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October 10, 1980 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-10-10

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OPINION

The,.. chigan Lll

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Friday, October 10, 1980

The Michigan ©oily

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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Weasel

by Robert Lence

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Vol. XCI, No. 32

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420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor,;MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of The Daily's Editorial Board

Death as entertainment

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F OR YEARS social critics have
warned the American public
against its increasing acceptance of
violence as a way of life. Horror stories
illustrating how desensitized to violence
we have become abound; people are
raped, beaten, abducted, and mur-
dered in broad daylight, and no one
gives a damn.
In the last decade this most
repugnant aspect of the human
character has taken a sadistic twist as
violence has become a major source of
entertainment. Fans flock to hockey
games with visions of bloody stick
fights in their heads and encourage
violence in other sports, while others
are content to watch brutal murders
and beatings on television detective
shows.
it is in this context that we must view
Wednesday's death of Stanley Sim-
mons on the subway tracks of Chicago.
Simmons, whose arm was in a sling,
apparently fell off the platform and on-
to the tracks and was vainly trying to
climb out when he was crushed by the
train. That none of the 60-70 onlookers,
would reach out a hand while Simmons
was frantically grabbing for the plat-
form borders on criminal negligence.
But that somber fact pales in light of
the depraved vocal response of the
onlookers, who were laughing and

jeering while Simmons fought
desperately to save his life.
It is, perhaps, only a human respon-
se to dissociate oneself from acts of in-
different cruelty like that of the people
who watched Simmons die. The
reality, however, is that those people
are indeed like many people we know,
maybe even like ourselves. Is-the en-
tertainment factor of Simmons' grisly
death so different from the enjoyment
we get out of watching brutal sporting
events and television shows?
Consider, for example, the hit TV
show "That's Incredible." Millions of
"normal" viewers watched a man get
his fingers burned off while attempting
to run through a tunnel of fire, and
another spit blood after attempting to
catch a bullet with his teeth. Soon we
may be treated to footage of a man who
was crippled recently while.trying to
vault over moving cars-all in the
name of entertainment.
It has often been said that real life is
funnier than fiction, and it would ap-
pear that it is far sicker, too. We can
only wonder in horror what the ratings
would be if footage of Simmons' death
were shown on television-millions,
not 60 or 70, would laugh and jeer. And
is there any reason to think those
millions would hold out their hands to
the next Stanley Simmons?

.. ._

- ------

Begin policies show ugliest,
fascist aspects of Zionism

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By H. Scott Prosterman

Coming out of the gutter

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EVEN JIMMY CARTER himself
had to say he had been
unreasonable on this one: His
statement that a Ronald Reagan
presidency would lead to divisions of
"black from white, Jew from
Christian, North from South, rural
from urban" was not merely ."ill-
advised," as the president said Wed-
nesday, it was ridiculous. The absurd
image of dozens of minor civil wars
erupting on'January 21 pointed up
more poignantly than ever the dank
depths to which the incumbent's cam-
paign has sunk.
Indeed, for every bit of misinfor-
mation issued by the Republican can-
didate, Carter has come up with a
Georgia-brand irrelevancy of his own.
It was the Carter people-not the

Reagan camp, as is commonly
believed-who first brought the in-
flammatory issue of the Ku Klux Klan
into the campaign. Patricia Harris,
Carter's secretary of Health and
Human Services, baited Reagan by
noting in a speech that the Klan had
endorsed him. It was only then that
Reagan jumped in and knocked Car-
ter's choice of "the birthplace of the
Klan" as a speech site.
In response to criticism of the
baseness of his attacks on Reagan,
Carter has now conceded that some of
his comments have been "mistakes."
Further, he has pledged to focus on the
issues and on the bona fide differences
between him and Reagan. That's a
campaign promise it would be easy to
keep; we only hope Reagan responds
in kind.

There has been much angry rebuke recen-
tly of American Jews who "dare" to express
their opposition to Israeli Prime Minister
Menachem Begin's policies. From the reac-
tion of Israel's defenders, one would think the
goal of the Americans is the very elimination
of the Jewish state.
How unfortunate it is that many American
and Israeli Jews choose to read any criticism
of Israeli policy as an indication of anti-
Semitism or as a betrayal of the Jewish
heritage. Such a posture ignores the fact that
the recent criticisms of the Begin government
have been motivated largely by humanitarian
concerns. Evento casual observers, the
policies of the current Israeli government
have shown the most ugly aspects of Zionism:
The obscene violation of a people's basic
human rights "justified" by a situation of
self-created insecurity.
WHILESOME have pointed out that the in-
timidation and harassment tactics of the
military government are themselves the most
immediate threat to Israeli security, the
Begin government has gone even farther with
the recent passage of two controversial laws.
One moves the Prime Minister's office to oc-
cupied East Jerusalem, the other ipakes any
expression of Palestinian nationalist sym-
pathies a criminal offense.
Such laws, labeled as "fascist" by both
Arabs and Jews, were cited as evidence that
the present government is dying in a
statement last August by Meir Vilner, a
member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament).
Vilner suggested that Begin has instituted
these measures as a last-resort, a futile at-
tempt to save himself.
Vilner's contention was perhaps better ar-
ticulated in an editorial in the English
language edition of the Palestinian
newspaper al-Fajr which stated: "By playing
on national fear and pride, the government
wants to radicalize the voter and leave him no,
choice, either to vote for its policy, or to ap-
pear to be lacking in his devotion to the
state."
WHILE A GREAT number of Israeli voters
will certainly succumb to the attempt "to
radicalize the voter," many others are seeing
the dangerous implications of these laws for
the future, and are beginning to sympathize
with the oppression felt by the Palestinian
nationals. One anti-Begin student leader has
stated that "the anti-democratic movement
in Israel has brought many - Jews to 'our
side."' He called this phenomenon a corner-
stone of the Palestinian struggle.
Until recently, Jewish sympathy for the
Palestinian cause has been largely limited to
the leftist factions of Israeli politics. But as
the fascist tendencies of the ruling establish-
ment become more apparent, traditional
supporters of Israel are beginning to question
the prudence of oppression for the sake of
security. Even a non-Marxist (such as this
writer) begins to appreciate the Marxist
axiom that "any people who oppress another
can not be free."
AS AN OCCASIONAL contributor to The
Daily, which has a significant Jewish reader-
ship, I have come under heavy criticism for
writing: "The Jews seem to have forgotten
one of the most important lessons of the
Holocaust: that no race of people can assert
supremacy over another and oppress it as a
manifestation of its own ideals." As I
qualified my position to make a judgement by

AP Photo
Menachem Begin

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pointing'out that I come from a Jewish family
in which there are many survivors of the
Holocaust, I earned the label of "self-hating
Jew, among other, less kind remarks from
The Daily's readers.
In my visit to Israel, more than one Israeli
has tried to cure me of my "self-hate," in-
cluding a member of my own family. I've
been told that until someone plants a bomb in
my briefcase, I can never understand the
politics of the Mideast. I've been told that un-
til I seve in the Israeli army, I can never un-
derstand the constant fear of death that
Israelis live with. And I've been told that as
long as I criticize Israeli policies from afar, I
can never consider myself to be a Jew.
To this I must ask how many Israeli and
American Jews make statements criticizing
the human rights policies of the Soviet Union
or of South Africa? How many of these self-
appointed critics have visited either country?
HAVING WITNESSED the miserable op-
pression of the Palestine people, I can no
longer be accused of idle criticism based on
mere historical research and second-hand in-
formation. And having witnessed the
profound waste of money on the Israeli
military and the rampant inflation caused by
a situation of self-created insecurity, I must
ask how many American Jews, who give so
generously to the United Jewish Appeal, ac-
tually know where their money is going? -
Many supporters of Israel, Jewish and
otherwise, point to the great achievements in
development by the Jewish state when asked
to justify the right of Israel to expand in an

imperialist fashion. Yet I must ask, what
right does a Jew from New York have to
bulldoze the land of a man whose family has
farmed it for countless generations, destroy
his crops, and steal his water?, What right has
he to build a new home on the site, thereby
contributing, to the Begin policy of
"strengthening the Jewish presence in the oc-
cupied areas?"
Israeli and American Jews freely and
righteously point to Biblical passages to just-
ify their- usurpation of non-Jewish land and
their violent infringement on the basic human-
rights of an oppressed people.
HOW IRONIC it is that many Israeli Jews
who justify the violent physical abuse of the
Palestinians on religipus grounds don't even
respect the sanctity of the holy places. They
curse the observant Jews for forcing their
practice on the non-observant and snicker at
the visitors who weep at the Western Wall.
Yt they call for security. They justify their
policies on religious claims and on grounds of
security. But as an Arab shopowner in East
Jerusalem told me: "After gaiping the trust
of your neighbor, why do you need security?
What greater security could there be?" That
man's "old eyes" havn't seen as many wars*
as Begin's have, but they have seen the op-
pression and misery that the Prime Minister
has been blind to
H. Scott Prosterman is a graduate stu-
dent in the University's Center for Near
.East and North African Studies. A ver-
sion of this article appeared last summer
in al-Fajr and in the Jordan Times.
'ChrisO.
aren't so want to pursue any of them. "I
favors for d6n't want to do anything out of
's with a haste. I married out of haste, and
lom. I had a child out of haste," she
house for says. She believes the Spirit will
where she move her when it is time to do
e doesn't something.
about. My Perhaps she will move to

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

The
To The Daily:
Chris O. is on the road, pregnant,
parentlest, without money, and
without a home. But just eight
months ago she was just like you
and I; a student in a respiratory
therapy with a part time job at a
school in Florida.

drifting 5'
Christians whom she believes to
be modern manifestations of the
saints.
"I just kind of did some wit-
nessing. Afterwards I didn't
know whether I was in the future
or in the past," she said. After
spending four days with the

foryo
people-some who a
generous. "I don't give
my means," she say
determined tone of wisd
She is welcome at our
a couple of days, but'
will go from here sh
seem to be worried a

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