In the midst of the rising voices of serious, scholarly studies dismissing the very thought of U.S. troops being stationed on the Golan Heights, a totally unbalanced, malicious column appeared in the press under the names of Novak and Evans. The authors attacked an alleged "Gang of Three," Israelis who gave informative, educational talks in Washington on the danger of stationing U.S. troops on the Golan, in conformity with the result of contemporary polls and studies. The column named three patriotic, public-spirited civilian experts whose advice was well received by their audiences in the capital. It was obvious that the column did not intend to refute any arguments, but just to spread malice and suspicion in order to protect the promoters of placing Americans on the Golan -- namely, the Israeli Government and its Embassy in Washington. The tone of the column reflected pure character assassination, and was totally lacking any rational reasons for rejecting their arguments.
Fortunately, any influence this nasty column may have had fizzled out quickly, since it appeared just when a poll was released by the Mideast Forum, headed by David D. Eisenhower, Jr. and his scholars, documenting the evidence that the general American public is 4-to-1 in opposition to placing Americans on the Golan. In addition to this, a 23-page blue-ribbon report, written by twelve top American military and governmental experts of the Center for Strategic Studies, had just been published on this subject, which also counseled strongly against sending U.S. troops to the Golan. This document graphically listed the enormous dangers to U.S. and Israeli interests such a move would entail.
Furthermore, Senators Bob Dole and Jesse Helms had just gone on record, not only opposing stationing U.S. troops on the Golan, But also opposing any proposal to hand over money to Syria in order to "buy" from her a shaky peace.
In light of all this, why would Novak and Evans, usually in the Republican corner, oppose the overwhelming objections to placing U.S. troops on the Golan as peace-keepers?
I got the answer to this puzzle in Denver, from a left-wing Israeli journalist who told me matter-of-factly: "The Novak-Evans column was written and arranged by the Israeli Embassy in Washington" (the means by which this was "arranged" was not explained). Thus the manipulation of the U.S. press can be added to the "accomplishments" of the Rabin Government
Prime Minister Rabin, throughout his flight to Denver, reportedly spoke about nothing but the growing opposition to his plan to convince America to place its troops on the Golan. Apparently he is attempting to establish a psychological eyewash, so he can convince the Israeli people that they are safe when he gives up the Golan, Israel's most essential strategic defense buffer, and it was to this end that he repeatedly invoked the Novak-Evans column. During his press conference in Denver, when he was questioned about the opposition to his plans, he answered: "If troops in the Sinai are kosher, why are they not kosher on the Golan?" Any child could answer that purely rhetorical question by pointing to the enormous differences between the two situations.
William Safire, the influential columnist, wrote a syndicated article which gave unusually candid insight into Rabin's behavior. He described his encounter with Rabin at a party, and how the Prime Minister tried to change his mind on the matter of U.S. troops on the Golan by urging him to read the Novak-Evans column. What a sad farce! As Rabin himself and his people had more or less written that column, it was of course perceived as comical that he thought he could use that column as "evidence" to back up his policy.
The staunchest and most coherent block of American Jews opposed to the dismantling of Israel has from the beginning of the process been the Orthodox community, which has been extremely vocal and articulate. As a sign of Rabin's desperation at his failure to convert that opposition to his policies, his diplomats have launched a desperate effort to inject a "Trojan Horse" into the Orthodox camp. In order for that ploy to succeed, they cast about for a long time to find a rabbi who could become a spokesman for the pro-Rabin policies. They finally found a rabbi from a small New Jersey town who would be willing to issue a call to join the Rabin camp. However, immediately after he published his appeal, the majority of the members of his own synagogue published their own full-page ad disowning him and rejecting his right to speak in their names.
This rejection did not stop him. He managed to collect the names of 19 other rabbis who signed an ad headed "Make Peace with Peace." Since every Jew is in favor of making peace, you have to read these words again and again before you realize their true meaning. Their actual message is: make peace with the dismantling of Israel for the sake of "peace." The proponents of this program call it "Shvil HaZahav," the "Golden Way" -- "Zahav," "Gold," being an allusion to Goldin, the name of the rabbi in question -- but perhaps it should more properly be called "Bishvil HaZahav," "For the Sake of Gold." Gold in this case does not mean money outright, that would be too crude. Rather, it means all kinds of goodies, as listed in the ad, i.e., if the Orthodox line up with the Arafat-Peres-Beilin line, they will be given access to high-level Israeli political figures, be allowed to participate in prominent meetings and assemblies, gain a share in the policy making process, "halachic" discussions, etc. These are some of the lures being offered to the "converts." At the same time the Orthodox are facing the threat of being "marginalized" if they do not yield their independence. Join the gang -- or else!
Hundreds of rabbis who have seen the ad have voiced their opposition to its contents, from the "centrist" rabbis, like Rabbi Emanuel Rackman, to "right-wing" rabbis, headed by Rabbi Ahron Soloveitchik and Rabbi Avraham Hecht and the 500 rabbis of the Iggud Harabbanim, to Rav Schapiro, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and many more. This general opposition and criticism of those who signed the "Zahav" appeal will no doubt soon take formal shape. To make peace with the dismantling of Israel and its being handed over piece by piece to the PLO certainly is, and will always remain, totally abhorrent to the Orthodoxy. The 2000 year old dream and prayer for a return to Zion and Jerusalem will not be given up for the lures of a 2 year old secular government.
This year's General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of American and Canada in Denver was full of firsts. You saw, for example, a high percentage of the delegates wearing kipot. All meals were glatt kosher and under constant supervision. Orthodox services were held twice daily to capacity audiences. I counted over 10 men in the weekday minyanim and 15 men and about 5 women on Shabbat. The Reconstructionist, Reform and Conservatives also held services but, of course, with much smaller attendance. And on Shabbat, the entire Assembly took part in a Kiddush and lunch. At the end of Shabbat a public havdalah service was held during the final plenary session. All of that would have been unthinkable some years ago. In those days, the mere mention of Jewish education was anathema. But slowly over the years, the Federation has slowly increased its contribution to Jewish education. Today some 35 percent of all Federation money is earmarked for educational purposes.
As an example of the new atmosphere surrounding Jewish education, one forum addressed the topic "Building Jewish Identity and Continuity Through Lifelong Jewish Learning." A very articulate Reconstructionist rabbi dramatically lamented the total absence of "Jewish philosophy" among his congregants. He said that "What can Judaism do for me?" is their constant demand. His people no longer have any memories of Jewish melodies, Shabbat meals, candle lighting or Jewish books, he said. He classified his generation as "sh'eyno yodea l'shol" ("don't know enough to ask"), unconcerned, uneducated Jews. His Jews, he said, forged ahead into Christian society, unprotected and vulnerable. His talk illustrated the crisis of the non-religious Jews, who are afraid to reach the logical conclusion of going back to the traditional, sacred Jewish heritage.
An Israeli professor in the same forum was brave enough to say that with Jewish education, intermarriage -- which he said was "only" 41 percent, not the 51 percent or 62 percent used by other experts -- could be stemmed. The professor, as all Israeli participants in the assembly -- including Rabin and Netanyahu -- came up with the magic medicine to cure the assimilation blues: the "Israeli experience," a year or so on Israeli soil. We who have seen some of the youngsters returning from that experience in largely, secular Israel, shudder at some of the results that have emerged. However, who is there to say that such an experience can hurt? Others suggested such quicker remedies as summer in camp -- but without saying what kind of camp.
The GA produced a number of studies carried out by sociologists and other authorities on the problem of Jewish continuity. One such study carried out (I wonder what such studies cost) for the North American Commission on Jewish Identity and Continuity. Its recommendation, as in the case of other studies, was a call to conduct further studies! The purpose of further research, the report said, should be "to permit a fuller analysis of the factors which impact identity development and of the effects of Jewish education in a variety of forms and settings. In addition, ethnographic focus groups and other forms of qualitative research should be undertaken to supplement, complement, and assist in the interpretation of quantitative research findings." Pure double-talk!
The recommendations of the authors of the various studies often were addressed only to adult groups -- people with some remanent of memories of Jewish values. Professional educators should be recruited, not necessarily Jewish, to come up with state-of-the-art techniques to disseminate "values," identity and continuity also to a generation growing up without a Jewish environment.
A refreshing contrast to these lame and reluctant efforts to grapple with the real challenge of Jewish continuity is a study published by Yeshiva University and written by Dr. Alvin I. Schiff and Dr. Mareleyn Schneider. To arrive at final, correct figures on the effect of day school education on Jewish continuity they first had to dismantle such biased and negative reports by secular Jews, who, from the start, wanted to show that Jewish day school education is not worthwhile. Such a report was written by Dr. Egon Mayer, a European sociologist, himself intermarried with children active in the Christian Church. His "study" showed that despite day school education, some 18 percent of the graduates intermarry!
Using painstaking interviews of thousands of day school graduates, the Schiff-Schneider report showed, of course, the opposite, concluding: "A Jewish day school education will ensure the eternity of our people. The intermarriage rate drops to 7 percent for students who complete a Jewish day school education. Educating more young Jews will do more than lowering the intermarriage statistics. It will bring in its path a generation of committed Jews, conscientious and dedicated Jewish leaders and, above all, the preservation of the Jewish family."
The GA had brought a high number of Israeli officials representing the Rabin Government's viewpoints. Thus the Israeli consul general in New York, Colette Avital, gave a talk on how Israel can contribute to Jewish continuity in the Diaspora. Among her recommendations were bringing to the United States Ethiopian rap singers, Israeli jazz bands and presenting lectures by leftist Israeli authors! Dr. Amnon Rubinstein, Minister of Education in Israel, gave a lengthy talk on the importance of Jewish education, without mentioning that under him, Jewish education in Israel has taken a fatal drop, in that the study of Jewish religion and history has been cut back, the distribution of Bibles on graduation has been stopped and the study of other religions, homosexuality, etc., has been introduced into the curriculum.
I got the feeling that we must wait for a change in government before Israel can be counted on to make a constructive and positive contribution to Jewish continuity in the Diaspora.
I heard a participant at the GA say when he saw copies of the Algemeiner Journal available to Delegates, "Moshiach must have come -- the Algemeiner is at the GA!" In fact I was overwhelmed with how many Jews from far distant states are reading my columns: in Seattle; Sioux City, Iowa; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Des Moines, Iowa; Colorado Springs, Col. and many more places. In fact the greatly increased presence of Orthodoxy at the GA was evident everywhere -- it must be hoped that next time, Torah Umessorah -- the primary organization running Orthodox day schools in America -- will become part and parcel of the program. Only such an organization can provide the answers that all American Jews are now awakened to search for good schools, good teachers, positive content, and direction.
The GA also bestowed rabbinical awards. Among the recipients was Rabbi Sol Roth of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York. Rabbi Roth also gave a talk on community building. He delivered the drasha Friday night. I myself was invited to deliver a Dvar Torah (Torah discourse) for Mincha -- the afternoon prayer service.
I pointed out that the week's portion, teaches us how to confront our enemies with; 1, diplomacy (doron; religion (tefillah); and defense (milchamah). Unfortunately the current Israeli government has failed to follow Jacob's teachings: 1. Their diplomacy in the Oslo negotiations with the PLO was disastrous; 2. They are dismantling Jewish religion; and 3. They are weakening Israel's defenses by offering to sacrifice the Golan Heights. It is time to return to our traditional teachings.
The most impressive experience of the assembly was the role played by the hundreds of college and high school students -- under Hillel and National Conference of Synagogue Youth -- who made the Shabbat meal so memorable; their enthusiastic singing and dancing, their brief speeches -- some of them devoted to the memory of Shlomo Carlebach.
Equally memorable was the silent, dignified memorial service for the victims of terrorism in Israel, Argentina and elsewhere, conducted outside the convention hall before Rabin's speech began. A hundred demonstrators, led by Rabbi Avi Weiss, each held a yahritzeit candle and sang a memorial song while Rabbi Weiss slowly read the names of the more than 100 Jewish martyrs of the "peace" process.
It must be hopped that future GA meetings will be remembered for their big awakening of the masses of North American Jews to the dangers of assimilation and for a commitment to maintain true, genuine Jewish continuity, as an educated and proud people.
The Scandinavian press is reporting that the Union of Norwegian Policemen, who are bargaining for a salary increase, are now planning a strike to begin on December 10, the day of the award ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize. If this threat is carried out, the prize ceremony will be placed in jeopardy, as very stringent security arrangements will be necessary to secure the safety of the Prize recipients, especially for the terrorist chief, Yassir Arafat.
The Norwegian Government is pleading with the police union to suspend their strike, as it feels that such an action would be an embarrassment to the country and undermine its standing in the world.
The Nobel ceremony, if it takes place, was first scheduled to commence at 1:00 p.m., on Shabbat, December 10, in Oslo, the Norwegian capital. It was expected that Yitzchak Rabin and Shimon Peres would walk to the ceremony from their hotel. This would have placed an extra burden on the Norwegian policemen, who would have had to walk alongside the Israelis to afford them protection.
To ease the security arrangements, the ceremony has therefore been postponed by the Nobel Committee to 5:0 p.m., since Shabbat will end at 4:30 p.m. Oslo time. The new schedule will naturally also facilitate the protest actions that various activists are planning, to express their outrage that Arafat was chosen to receive the award.
The only member of the Nobel Committee who lived up to Norway's human rights tradition. Kaare (pronounced Kawre) Kristiansen, resigned in loud defiance and protest against giving Arafat the prize. As a result of righteous stand, Kristiansen will be lauded as the guest of honor at a banquet arranged by students of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem -- which is also going to be held on December 10. This event is expected to attract worldwide publicity, and will highlight the civilized world's outrage at awarding Arafat the prize.
It is known that Anwar Sadat refused to accept the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, since under the tenets of Islam making peace with infidels is illegal. Now there is some speculation that Arafat, too, may after all decline to attend.
Arafat of late has become even more vocal in his denial that the so-called Oslo accords that he signed are a binding peace agreement, and he has stated that he plans to violate the accords in a maximum of two years. Accepting the Peace Prize would be inconsistent with his defiance of making peace with infidels, including, by Islamic definition, all Jews and Christians. If he is going to be true to his own religion and conviction, Arafat would consequently have to absent himself from the Peace Prize ceremony.
Meanwhile, as a warm-up for the big event in Oslo, Rabin has been spending a great deal of his time collecting prizes and decorations. In Los Angeles he accepted the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award; the medal was placed on him by Mrs. Nancy Reagan. After that affair he flew to Madrid, to accept another decoration from the King of Spain. Now he is getting ready to collect his share of the $98,000 Peace Prize in Oslo, which it turns out he will have to split with his political rival, Peres, who became a co-recipient at the last moment, after intensive lobbying on his behalf was spearheaded by a well-known Jewish Nobel Peace Prize laureate who flew to Oslo expressly for that purpose.
It is telling to note that while Rabin has found time to travel all over the world to collect these prizes, neither he nor any member of his Government has felt the need to find the time to participate in the shloshim ceremony for the Tel Aviv bus bombing tragedy, not for other mourning ceremonies for the victims of Palestinian terror.
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