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November 13, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-11-13

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OPINION

The Michigan Daily"

Page 4

Monday, November 13, 1989

Organized

Zionist groups

control

,

By Benjamin Mordecai
Ben-Baruch
Struggles internal to the Jewish com-
munity are threatening to destroy the inde-
pendence of the University's student press,
tie Michigan Daily. The local Hillel
foundation and most of the Jewish student
groups affiliated with it (with the private
encouragement and public support of some
f&culty) have gone beyond responsible crit-
ipism and are attempting to control and
dominate discussion about the Israeli-
Palestinian-Arab conflicts.
Accusing their opponents of anti-
Spmitism and racism, the organized Jew-
ish community on campus is attempting
to restrict discussion of Israel/Palestine
within a Zionist framework. Indeed, as the
organized Jewish community attempts to
maintain the false unity propped up by
pseudo-Zionist myths that have legiti-
mated the major Jewish institutions since
1967, some of the harshest attacks have
been against "renegade" or "apostate"
Jews.
A The campaign against the Daily seems
to have several goals: 1) to rally and mo-
bilize Jewish students to remain "loyal"
and "faithful" to the political program, and
ideology of the major American Jewish
institutions; 2) to demarcate and articulate
the boundaries of what it means to be
"loyal" and "faithful"; 3) to restrict public
debate on campus within non-threatening
parameters; 4) to discredit and demobilize
political and intellectual opposition.
The U.S. Jewish community is highly
organized and well funded. It is politically

dominated by a center-right coalition of
nationalist liberals, neo-conservatives,
theocrats and fundamentalists. Power and
influence are organized through national
umbrella organizations such as the Con-
ference of Presidents of Major American
Jewish Organizations, Council of Jewish
federations, National Jewish Community
Relations and Advisory Committee - all
of which purport to speak for the Ameri-
can Jewish community.
This "established Jewish community" is
in crisis. By its own survey research,
about 65 percent of all American Jews are
liberal or progressive, vote for more pro-
gressive candidates, and privately hold
opinions critical of the Israeli state and of
the positions articulated by the dominant
leadership.
Nevertheless, the organized Jewish
community is politically organized and
mobilized to serve the State of Israel. Al-
most half of its resources are used to fi-
nancially support the national institutions
of Israel or to influence public opinion and
foreign policy in service of Israel. It has a
discernible, if not clearly definable, ideol-
ogy which includes theologic components;
this ideology has a name - Zionism.
(Like all ideologies, Zionism is fluid and
changes and has contradictory streams and
elements. Contemporary Zionism is the
ideology of the State of Israel, and of the
Jewish community politically organized to
serve the state, and is quite different from
the socialist secularist ideology which
dominated the Zionist social movement
until the 1950s.)

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that
Hillel would organize a campaign against
those articulating opposition to the poli-
cies of the State of Israel and to the politi-
cal program of the "established Jewish
community." It is shocking, however, that
this campaign now threatens the indepen-
dence and freedom of the student press on
this campus.
Hillel publishes two publications of its
own and successfully waged a campaign to
influence the editorial decisions of the
Daily - which it has a right to do, of
course. But this attempt to influence and
control is combined with efforts to impose
guidelines that would censor articles not
written within a Zionist rhetorical frame-
work, and to intimidate journalists who
are critical of Israel, Zionism, or the polit-
ical activities of American Jewish organi-
zations.

"racist" and "anti-Semitic."
On October 13 the Daily ran a short es-
say by Professor Marc Ellis, a committed
Conservative Jew active in his
(progressive) synagogue and in other pro-
gressive Jewish organizations such as New
Jewish Agenda. The essay presented one
aspect of his critique of the work of con-
temporary major Jewish theologians -
the same basic critique and arguments
presented in a lecture at Hillel on October
26, 1986.
In the essay, Ellis accuses contemporary
Jewish theologians of continuing to speak
of Israel as "the portent of redemption
rather than a state among states" and of be-
ing "silent on the gravest crisis which has
faced the Jewish people since [the Holo-
caust]." Thus, through uncritical support
of the State of Israel or through silence re-
garding the oppressive conduct of its gov-

debate
be vilified."
Hillel and the organized Jewish commu-
nity on campus responded by making El
lis' prediction come true - they vilified
him and the editors of the Opinion Page;
In a statement that appeared in the Daily
on November 9, signed by Hillel and 14
other organizations, Ellis' arguments were
grossly distorted and the Daily was
scathingly condemned for "racism,"
"editorial anti-Semitism" and an "anti-
Semitic obsession." I submit that it is the
organized Jewish community that is ob-
sessed trying to defend the indefensible and
justify the unjustifiable.
Hillel and 14 affiliated Jewish studeno
organizations - under the guise of acting
against racism and anti-Semitism - op-
pose attempts to seriously analyze or ques-
tion Zionist ideology or the political #G-
tivities of its adherents. This assault upon
free and open inquiry and upon the inde-
pendence of the Michigan Daily is outr4-
geous and offensive.
Rather than trying to control public disT
cussion about Israel and the ways it use.
state power, Hillel should devote itself id
helping Jewish students feel good agaiD
about being Jewish, to helping Jewish
students develop the knowledge and tools
necessary to transcend the political situa-
tion and reconnect themselves to our his-
tory and tradition, to transcending Zionism
and affirming Jewish values.
Ben-Baruch is a PhD candidate in Sociol-
ogy and History. He was principal of Adat
Shalom United Hebrew School in Farm@
ington Hills, and of Temple Beth Jacob,
Religious School in Pontiac. He has
served on the Jewish Community Council
and the Council of Presidents of Jewish
Organizations in Ann Arbor. He is. ,a
member of New Jewish Agenda.

'The editors of the Opinion Page were attacked and threatened
with a law suit for publishing an article which Hillel itself pub-
lished in one of its publications. Most recently, the Daily was ac-
cused of "racism." Hillel is in fact demanding control of the dis-
semination of dangerous and dissident views.'

Parts of this campaign have been partic-
ularly vicious and vitriolic. The editors of
the Opinion Page were attacked and threat-
ened with a law suit for publishing an ar-
ticle which Hillel itself published in one
of its publications. Most recently, the
Daily was accused of "racism." Hillel is in
fact demanding control of the dissemina-
tion of dangerous and dissident views. Hil-
lel presents itself as progressive and as a
defender of open debate and a free press.
But when the editors of the Daily publish
the same or similar materials, they are

ernment and army, Ellis contends that all
of the major contemporary Jewish theolo-
gians are in fact bolstering the ideological
structure which legitimates the State of Is-
rael, the ways it exercises its power, and
its claim to the loyal support of Jews.
Then Ellis raises disturbing questions:
Should American Jews and Jewish organi-
zations be organized "to build the Israeli
state" and "to serve that state... by lobby-
ing for Israeli economic and military aid?"
He concludes by predicting that "those
who raise [these questions] in public will

4
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Ube fr13taU b43al tail
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor. MI 48109

City Ignores Homelessness

Vol. C, No. 49

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
Build homes, not parking

IN THE NAME of "Downtown Devel-
opment" Ann Arbor city government
continues to allocate millions of dollars
for the construction of parking struc-
tures and the destruction of housing in
the downtown area. These distorted
priorities have created and now exacer-
bate an affordable housing crisis that is
forcing people into the streets. Approx-
imately 1,000-2,000 Ann Arbor resi-
dents are homeless. Many more lived
"doubled up" in overcrowded apart-
:ments or have been forced out of Ann
Arbor altogether due to the dismal lack
of affordable housing for people with
'low incomes.
In 1985 an affordable housing task
force reported that Ann Arbor needed
1,000 additional units of affordable of
housing. No affordable housing has
been built since that report was re-
ased. In fact, more housing has been
Cestroyed. Ann Arbor has fewer units
®f affordable housing and a greater
need for it than it did in 1985.
No subsidized housing that is afford-
Able for people with low incomes has
been constructed in Ann Arbor in over
$5 years. In that time, the city has
spent $13 million on the construction
;f parking structures. In contrast a
nere $100 thousand in city funds were
ased to subsidize housing at the
YMCA. YMCA rooms cost
$300/month and rent must be paid on a
weekly basis. This is not affordable
housing for people with low incomes.
City Council claims that it lacks the
financial resources to subsidize the
construction of affordable low-income
housing. This same financially-des-
perate city government recently ap-
proved spending $9 million dollars for
the construction of another parking
structure. It is clear that the city has the
money to address the affordable hous-
ing crisis. One thousand units of
housing would cost approximately $30
million dollars to construct. This is less
Than the total amount the city has bud-
eted for the construction of parking
structures ($30.5 million).
The illusion of a parking shortage
=bas complicated the issue. A parking

April revealed that the downtown area
has a surplus of short-term (metered)
parking spaces that matches its deficit
of long-term spaces. Easily correctable
poor planning is responsible for
downtown's greatly exaggerated park-
ing problem, not a shortage of parking
spaces.
Even if such a shortage existed, it is
patently ludicrous for City Council to
squander funds that could be used to
house the city's thousands of homeless
people on the construction of housing
for automobiles. The more effective
use of car-pools and the mass transit
system, which would save energy and
make better use of available parking
spaces, is a far more reasonable and
less costly alternative.
Parking structures are obviously not
being constructed to serve current
need. They are built as a part of an
overall strategy to encourage the ex-
pansion of the downtown business
district. Parking structures are built on
the borders of the district where there is
still residential housing. This housing
is often destroyed to make way for the
construction of the structures and the
new office buildings and retail centers
that are later built adjacent to them.
City council is ultimately responsible
for the policies that are driving people
with low incomes out of the city to
make way for the construction parking
structures and office space that remain
largely unused. These policies are
against the interests of Ann Arbor resi-
dents.
City government should stop funding
projects that are destroying Ann Arbor.
The remainder of funds slated for the
construction of parking structures
(included the $9 million forthe as yet
unbuilt Ashley-William lot) should be
allocated for the construction of hous-
ing that is truly affordable for people
with low incomes.
The Homeless Action Committee
(HAC) is sponsoring a demonstration
and speakout against these injustices,
and the City Council responsible for
them, outside of City Hall tonight, at
7:30 p.m. The Daily endorses this
demonstration and urges your atten-

By the Homeless Action
Committee
Two things in Ann Arbor are no secret:
the severity of the affordable housing cri-
sis and the priorities of the Ann Arbor
City Council. Approximately 1,000-2,000
people are homeless in this city due to a
dismal lack of affordable housing. In addi-
tion, many others live on the edge of
homelessness or have been forced to leave
Ann Arbor all together. This housing
shortage did not magically materialize.
People are homeless today as a direct re-
sult of the city's prioritization of business
interests over the interests of people with
low incomes.
The Ann Arbor City Council and the
Downtown Development Authority
(DDA) are responsible for the policies that
deny housing to Ann Arbor residents. The
DDA was established in 1982, under a
charter which states that its money can be
used for the construction and restoration of
downtown housing. Since its inception,
the DDA has ignored this responsibility.
No subsidized housing that is affordable
for people with low incomes has been
constructed in Ann Arbor in over 15 years.
This policy is condoned, and indeed di-
rected, by the City Council. The Council
must approve all DDA expenditures.
Instead of facing the housing crisis, the
City Council has used $13 million in
DDA funds to build two parking struc-
tures. In September, the City Council
gave final approval to the DDA's plan to
finance the construction of an additional
$9 million parking structure at the current
Kline's parking lot site (Ashley-William).
All together the DDA has proposed to
spend $30.5 million on the construction

of parking structures. It continues to dis-
regard Ann Arbor's need for 1,000 new
units of subsidized housing.
Indeed "Downtown Development" has
destroyed over 200 units of housing in the
last 10 years, many of which have been
converted into office spaces. For example,
developers forced nearly 60 people into the

to build housing for cars while it ignores
housing for people. We do not intend'to
allow the construction of this parkibe
structure behind Kline's. We have picketed
at the site weekly since February. Tn
April, HAC occupied the lot to demon-
strate against the spending priorities of the
City Council. We have repeatedly de-.°,

'The construction of parking structures is designed to stimu
late the construction of office/retail buildings which, in turn,
destroys affordable housing units. A clear connection exists

between City Council spending
bor.'

and homelessness in Ann Ar-

street when they turned the Downtown
Club - a low-cost, single room occu-
pancy building - into office spaces in
1983. This year one office building con-
struction caused the destruction of five
houses on Miller and Ashley. This site is
directly adjacent to the Ann-Ashley park-
ing structure constructed with DDA funds.
The construction of parking structures is
designed to stimulate the construction of
office/retail buildings which, in turn, de-
stroys affordable housing units. A clear
connection exists between City Council
spending and homelessness in Ann Arbor.
The proposed $9 million Ashley-
William parking structure will further ex-
acerbate the housing crisis. The City plans
to destroy two more houses this spring to
make room for the structure. This will no
doubt lead to the further destruction of sur-
rounding residences.
The Homeless Action Committee
(HAC) believes it is a crime for the City

manded that money in the DDA Fund be
used to build low-income housing and not
parking structures. The City Council ha
responded with the ridiculous claim that 1
lacks the resources to end homelessness
and the housing crisis. It does not lack the
resources; it lacks the will.
It is the job of City Council to protest
the basic rights of its citizens, includin
the right to housing. HAC will continue
to fight the criminal spending priorities
that keep Ann Arbor residents homeless.
Join the Homeless Action Commi(-
tee at a demonstration to demand that
the City Council prioritize endin
homelessness and the housing crisis,
and that the DDA use its funds to builtd
safe, decent, affordable housing for
people with low incomes. The demo.-
stration will be held on Monday,
November 13 at City Hall (Fifth and
Huron) at 7:30 pm. HAC meets every
Sunday at the First Baptist Church (511
E. Huron) at 6 pm. For more informa-
tion call 769-8268.

....._ - _ i.*...,.;......

Fight Anti-
Semitism
To the Daily:
We are writing in response
to the editorial, "Persistence of
Hate," (Daily, 11/1/89). We
wholeheartedly agree that, trag-
ically, many forms of discrim-
ination seem to be on the rise,
including anti-Semitism. The
Daily is accurate in stating that
it is not only among skinheads
and in isolated parts of the
world where Jewish individuals
are judged according to injuri-
ous stereotypes.

upon him or her an entire spec-
trum of negative and hurtful
stereotypes which many
wrongfully associate with
Jews.
Because we agree that
"unless we acknowledge its
depth, [anti-Semitism] will
continue to emerge in vio-
lence," and also believe that all
forms of discrimination, in-
cluding anti-Semitism, are un-
fair and hurtful, we have
formed "Students Fighting
Anti-Semitism," a group of
concerned students dedicated to
combatting anti-Semitism on

Write with
your peers
To the Daily:
As an ECB Peer Writing Tu-
tor, I would like to clarify
some points made in your arti-
cle "Tutors supply help for
late-night papers." (Daily,
11/6/89)
The peer tutoring program is
based on a commitment to col-
laborative learning. Appropri-
ately, the program has no head.
Rather, Phyllis Lassner, Emily
Jessup, and Jan Armon - all
ECB faculty - conduct the

where and when you write yo
papers: in the 611 Church SC
and Angell Hall computing
centers from 7 to 11 p.m. Sun
day through Thursday. Since
we are student writers our
selves, we can interact with
you with empathy and under
standing.
Not only is our program
unique, but we are constantly
looking for ways to improve
our tutoring. Recently, a dele.
gation of seven of our tutors
attended the National Peer Tit-
toring Conference.

I

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