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February 01, 1990 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-02-01

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Page 4

Thursday, February 1, 1990

The Michigan Daily

Israel, the intifada

and Jewish identity

Last week, Daily Opinion staffer Liz
Paige interviewed Marc Ellis, professor
,of religion, culture and society studies at
the Maryknoll School-of Theology. Ellis,
the director of the Maryknoll Justice and
Peace program, came to the University to
speak on Jewish theology and issues of Is-
raeli state power.
Daily: Could you tell us what your def-
inition of zionism is?
Ellis: First of all, I think its important
to say that the labels of zionist, anti-zion-
ist, and anti-Semitic are not really help-
ful; most often when those labels are used
they are not a probing for truth but an at-
tempt to shut down Jews who want to
speak the truth. So if you are critical of
zionism you become an anti-zionist, and if
you're an anti-zionist you must be a self-
hating Jew, and if your a self-hating Jew
you want the Jewish people to be de-
stroyed. What do these words mean and
who uses them?
Daily: What is the "truth" that you're
speaking of?
Ellis: It is to feel oneself connected to a
people, to place yourself in the long av-
enue of Jewish history, to see our people
as a people who have struggled, suffered,
and celebrated, and to say that I am here as
a part of that tradition, and enter into the
conversation that has been going on since

the beginning about what it means to be
Jewish, what it means to be human, what
it means to be good, what it means to be
bad, what it means to enjoy the earth,
what it means to be just, what it means to
be unjust. To be Jewish is to simply say I
am here in this history and I welcome that
- but then to ask, who are we as Jews?
Who are the Jewish people?
Daily: Who are the Jews as a people
Ellis: We are now a people that has
come through a tremendous suffering -
1,500 years of European history culminat-
ing in the holocaust; and a people now
who have recently been empowered. And
although I affirm empowerment as a peo-
ple, the question is what kind of empow-
erment. Are we after that 1,500 years of
suffering, after 5,000 years of history,
simply going to be a people who uses
their power to oppress another people?
We have become a people who op-
presses another people - and that is the
Daily: Can this be reversed or changed?
Ellis: We can begin to change it by be-
ing honest about who we have become,
which raises the question of who we want
to be, because when we really recognize
who we have become I believe that we do
not want to be that way. So if we do not

want to be what we have become how are
we going to move? That is the question.
Theologians, Rabbis, and directors of
Hillel have a responsibility to help us cre-
ate a framework for the next step. Those
who do not, those who lie to themselves
and to their students, are guilty of crimes
against the Palestinian people and against
the Jewish people and Jewish history.
The role of Jewish leadership
Daily: Could you expound on what has
been the effect of the American rabbinate,
theologians, directors of Jewish institutes
such as Hillel?
Ellis: In general, they have been a scan-
dal to the Jewish communities. However,
there are some exceptions. But by in large
they will be remembered as a scandal to
the Jewish people.
Daily: Why do you think the Jewish
community as a whole has had a reac-
tionary response to what you have said?
Ellis: This is simply untrue. I get let-
ters every day and I get people flying in to
meet me, who are Jews, who are so moved
by the prospect of theology that speaks to
their spirituality. We have many Jews all
over the world who are working for justice
but lack a spirituality to call their own.
We are a people hungry for a religious
framework, but it cannot be a religious
framework that is filled with lies. They are
hungry for an authentic Jewish response to
our history.
The tradition of dissent
Daily: What is the tradition of dissent
in the Jewish community?

Jewish state power is what we are con-
fronting. We are not confronting Jews in
Israel. Jewish Israeli society is split. We
are confronting state power in Israel which
has, in concert with the population but
also sometimes outside of it its own rea-
soning for being, its own plan which does
not if it could include any Palestinians.
Anyone who tells you any different is not
telling the truth. If you want an exclusive
Jewish state, Palestinians are not to be
welcomed. Its the logic of the state so we

afr 3j - IQ
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

have to break that logic. The logic of the
state has to be changed.
Israel's challenge and the Palestinians
I want to also stress that there is a posi-
tive role for the state of Israel. It is to do
what no other state seems to do - trans-
form itself, move against its own per-

Vol. C, No. 84

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

'Some of the most famous Jews in the world, Martin
Buber, Judah Magnes, Hanna Arent were zionist but
dissenting ones believing in a Jewish homeland but
not a Jewish state. We have many other Jews who
were interested in neither a Jewish homeland nor a
Jewish state; they are all part of our community.'

speak. So don't blame it on Shamir, or
don't blame the Sephardic Jews. Take it
where it should be, it is all of us.
How are we going to be neither victim0O
nor oppressor? That is our challenge. It is
not a solution; that is a path. As we walk
that path things begin to fall into place,
things become clearer.If we refuse to walk
that path then we look for solutions that
are of course impossible to find because of
them [Arabs]; not us, of course, no, not
us, we [Jews] are innocent.
We are no longer innocent; we are hu-
miliating a people in exactly the same
way we were humiliated.
When you talk to Jews about the Holo-
caust it's not the number of dead - its
too much to contemplate. How do you
think of five or six million Jews killed?
What gets us is the Jewish grandfathers
and grandmothers who were forced to strip
in front of their community or Jews who
were forced to lick up spit off the side-
walks. Everything has been done to the
Palestinians in exactly the same way.
A story of a young Palestinian man
stripped by the Israeli soldiers and placed
in the center of town, old men forced out
of their homes and made to paint over the
graffiti, women who have had their shirts
torn open by the soldiers. This is not to
talk about the dead but rather about the at-
tempt to humiliate a people - the Pales-
tinian people.
Student struggle
Daily: What is the role of students on
Ellis: I have been very impressed in my
visit to the University because Palestini-
ans and some Jewsare at least trying to
speak about this new intimacy. For some
Jews, of course, it's very abstract and for
Palestinians it must be very difficult to
explain over and over again that they are
not simply here for us but that they have
their own history which we have at-
tempted to destroy.
I have been very impressed by Palestini-
ans who are willing to deal with Jews. I
have also been impressed by those Jews
who have been willing to chart a very dif-
ficult and dangerous terrain that rabbis and
Jewish theologians and Hillel directors say
No to.
Those Jews who are coming into soli-
darity with Palestinian people are the ones
that are being faithful. What they need is
Jewish support from their elders of which
they get very little.
But that is for me the possibility of
what students can be involved in as this
new generation of Jews and this new gen-
eration of Palestinians fight for both of
our last hopes. In this generation, there is
going to be a solution to the situation and
we are very late and the Palestinians are in
great danger and there is only one people
now who puts them in that danger - and
that is the Jewish people.

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.
Time to pay up'U

ON TUESDAY, students of color met
with University administrators to de-
mand immediate, tangible action to go
along with the pomp and circumstance
of Duderstadt's Michigan Mandate and
promises for the 21st Century.
The six demands focus on increasing
people of color representation in the
student body to be proportional to the
number of people of color in the na-
Twenty years ago University Presi-
dent Fleming promised the first Black
Action Movement that the University
would increase Black student enroll-
ment to equal the proportion of Blacks
in the state, which was then ten per-
Twenty years later the University's
Black student enrollment is only 6.4%
while Michigan's Black population is
The promises the University adminis-
tration made to students in 1970 are
past due - twenty years past due. The
least the University administration can
do to make up for the damage done by
twenty years of unmet promises is to
meet the demands put forth by anti-
racist student organizations today. The
demands are as follows:
1. The incoming class of 4500 stu-
dents in 1990 must be composed of, at
minimum, 15% Black students, 9.8%
Latino students, and 2% Native Ameri-
can Students.
Rotating enrollment of students from
these under-represented groups should
continue until these specific numbers
are reached for the incoming LSA class
for 1990.
In addition, there must be no caps on
Asian-American enrollment and under-
represented national and ethnic groups
within the Asian-American and Latino-
American communities should have
priority within the Affirmative Action
recruitment efforts.
2. The University must drop all uses
of standardized tests in undergraduate
admissions. In addition, it must be ac-
countable for its admissions process
and its recruitment efforts. Admission
criteria should be made available to the
general public, and reasons for rejec-
tions should be available to the individ-
3. The University must provide four
year financial aid packets to all students
who need financial aid. In addition, the
Financial Aid Office must abide by the
same Affirmative Action guidelines
used in admissions to determine finan-

b. The OMR will work as a liaison
between student and the administration
in resolving any problems which
would result in the student's departure
from the University.
c. The OMR will have other func-
tions to aid in the retaining of students,
such as offering tutorial services, guid-
ance/counseling, and specialization in
financial areas.
d. The OMR will have a Financial
Aid Appeals Board, half of which
should be composed of students of
color from the various groups, with a
annual budget of $2,000,000 for stu-
dents of color who have financial need
(above the financial aid already given
to them) or too high of a debt burden.
e. The OMR will be involved in cur-
riculum review to ensure that each de-
partment includes curriculum relevant
to people of color. Curriculum review
would also include reviews of libraries
to insure that they have materials by
and about people of color.
f. The OMR will participate in review
of departments and department chairs
to ensure that all departments are
meeting Affirmative Action goals.
g. There should be significant student
of color input in the creation of the
5. Institute a tuition freeze until the
total student population meets the pro-
portional representation of all student
of color groups.
6. The University must set up an
Ella Baker-Nelson Mandela Scholar-
ship Fund for economically disadvan-
taged students of color. This scholar-
ship will provide tuition and all living
expenses for the four years of under-
graduate work for 100 students of
color (70 in-state and 30 out-state) in
each incoming class. 6% of the Uni-
versity capital campaign should be set
aside to create this scholarship fund.
Duderstadt's "multi-cultural,"
"international" University must start
with these six demands.
Apologists for the status quo cannot
continue to pass the buck by claiming
that low student of color enrollment is
not the responsibility of the University,
but only "a symptom of a larger societal
problem." Instead of waiting endlessly
for reforms elsewhere in the system
that will increase the number of
"qualified" students of color applicants,
the University needs to expand its out-
dated, racist notions of what
"aualified" is.

Ellis: From the beginning of zionism
there have been zionist, non-zionist, and
others who have dissented. Some of the
most famous Jews in the world, Martin
Buber, Judah Magnes, Hanna Arent were
zionist but dissenting ones believing in a
Jewish homeland but not a Jewish state.
We have many other Jews who were inter-
ested in neither a Jewish homeland nor a
Jewish state; they are all part of our com-
If I can say that those who founded the
state of Israel are Jewish, if I can say, la-
mentingly, that Ariel Sharon is Jewish,
then I certainly think I can say that people
who have opposed the state are Jewish
I am talking for an inclusive dialogue;
those Jews who have dissented are just as
Jewish as those Jews who have pushed
that state. That is what I am calling the
tradition of dissent; we have a long tradi-
tion now. Do we know that tradition? Is it
spoken about? No. It is repressed and it is
suppressed. However, it keeps coming up;
even in the Palestinian uprising we have a
whole new level of dissent except for one
thing: that tradition of dissent has lost ev-
ery battle with Jewish state power in Israel
- every battle.

ceived interests, help us move toward a
solidarity with the Palestinian people. I
believe the task of theology is to lay the
ground work for that solidarity, but we
will never get there unless the state also
prepares itself for that solidarity.
Daily: What is the position of the
Palestinian people within this theology
and within the transformation of the state?
Ellis: The Palestinian people hold the
key to our future because they more than
anyone tell us who we have become. But
they also give us a possibility to be some-
thing else. That is the great hope of the
Palestinian uprising vis-a-vis the Jewish
people. It is our last chance as a people.
Is it no exaggeration to say that it is the
responsibility of Jewish leadership to help
us to be faithful to those who went before
us rather than betraying everything - ev-
erything we have been given. They are de-
stroying our tradition. Don't blame it on
the Israelis. Any Jew who does not take
responsibility now is participating in the
destruction of our tradition. A soldier on
the West Bank is simply an extension of
the local rabbi if the local rabbi does not

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must resign
To the Daily:
As you know, the Board for
Student Publications, which
has traditionally met once a
month in order to discuss and
carry out the business of the
Daily, the Ensian and the Gar-
goyle, has not met for the last
three months.
Several Daily staff members
had asked me, as a student rep-
resentative to the Board, to ask
that Professor Raymond Tanter
be removed from the Board due
to a conflict of interest. The
Daily is in the process of re-
searching an investigative story
on Tanter, and Tanter has dis-
played a marked antagonism
toward the Daily since he was
made aware of the investiga-
Last February, as Daily edi-
tors were reading a draft of the
story and deciding whether or
not it was ready to run, Tanter
came to the Daily and threat-
ened to sue for libel if it was
allowed to run. The Daily is
currently continuing the inves-

tives from broaching the sub-
ject of Tanter's credentials, first
by refusing to follow parlia-
mentary procedure, which dic-
tates that questions of creden-
tials be taken before all other
agenda items, and then by can-
celling the next three meetings.
In light of all this, I was

glad to receive the memo from
the current editors of all the
student publications requesting
Tanter's resignation.
Hopefully Rosenthal will re-
alize that problems such as
these can not be avoided by re-
fusing to hold meetings. The
Board must meet immediately


in order to deal with this and
must convene on a regular ba-
sis in the future to attend to the
important business of the stu-
dent publications.

-Cale Southworth
January 28


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