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March 21, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 21, 2003
 

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FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 21,2003 PAGE 5 ~ges readers to send in their opinions y must be signed; however, will be withheld upon request. Due to space we reserve the right to edit, if necessary. in Viewpoint do not necessarily reflect OPinions of the paper. medal of pride IlYBernard Kaplan You can understand my happy surprise at seeing my On my last night in Israel a friend's face on the TV screen. ago I stayed at a With the camera focused on his face, the announcer ex- they turned on plained at length the impor- 9 p.m. to listen to tance of this new program. the evening news. To Members of visiting solidarity tOtal surprise, after the missions, students, Birthright and terrorism up- Israel participants, Christian saw my good friend, Zionist groups, and individu- Dov Schwartz, als are being given the oppor- ua a hospital-type bed tunity to donate blood to lures all over. I, for one, Magen David Adom as part of v why he looked relaxed the Sharing for Life program, ~Unworried. The news-he explained. For groups of then pointed out thatover 25 donors, MDA blood- )ofAmeri- mobiles are going to hotels to joined the collect the blood while smaller David Adorn pro- groupsandindividuals are able to donate blood in Is- to visit one of the MDA Blood Collection Centers in major Dov Schwartz cities. go way back. We had HundredsofvisitingAmeri- cans have already participated. friends over the One large solidarity mission Today, he is the longsigned up 130 of its partici- fie B'nai pantslastweek. Overone hun- in Rockviile Centre, dred members of a twenty- to his tripwith an somethingagegroupfromthe BOndsRabbinicMission,Manhattan Jewish Center, in- he intended to cluding Rabbi Schwartz's son to Magen David Avi, went toIsrael recentlyand Israel's national blood over thirty of them joined the as pro- program. Each participant re- 5haringforLife." ceives a special pin with the Jeuathan S. Tobin months ago, a great and digni- emanated from of the civilized world of a series television which to dramatize the Protocols of the of Zion. ,~the debate over Presi- rightful determi- pursue war against regime of Saddam up, it looks like propagandists lan have been sharing leftistanti-war atleastone ' of Congress. of administration aren't satisfied with lies about oil in- the war policy, justifying French even evokin pro- these ,nts or- e always slander held in and now they have Use it. ; right. It's not really Bush family good old American to some prominent anti- the real fault Jews. Moran (D- ~11 remarks he made on March 3 at a town meeting in Reston, Va. Conspiracy theories Accord- ing to Moran, who is a well- known foe of Israel, "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this." When he was con- demned by local Jewish lead- ers, Moran did a backfiip and claimed he didn't mean it. Moran, who accepted con- tributions from pro-Hamas Muslim groups and is a vocal supporter of the Palestinians, now says, "I made some insen- sitive remarks that I deeply regret." It remains to be seen whether the Democratic Party will punish him the way the Republicans did former Sen- ate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) when he endorsed segregation last year. But even though Moran is trying to weasel his way out of this mess, other Washingtonians aren't such cowards when it comes to standing by their slurs. Recently, University of Illi- nois professor Paul Schroeder made a similar point in the American Conservative, the magazine run by far-right blowhard Pat Buchanan. Schroeder claims the war would be fought solely for Israel's benefit. That was no coincidence since Buchanan tried -- and failed -- to popularize the same slander during the first Persian GulfWarin 1991 when he accused Congress of being Israel's "amen corner," and alleged that non-Jewish American boys would die at the behest of pro-Israel Jewish commentators. flags of Israel and the United States imposed over the em- blem of Magen David Adorn. During my trip I toured the modern, impressive MDA Na- tional Blood Center in Ramat Gan, as a guest of Prof. Eilat Shinar, director of MDABIood Services. As one of the initia- tors of the project, I had met Dr. Shinar in New York a few weeks before when the pro- gram was organized at a meet- ing with Benjamin Saxe, ex- ecutive vice president of American Red Magen David for Israel (ARMDI), Sybil Weingast, associate national director, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Orga- nizations, and Malky Tannenbaum, senior associ- ate for policy. Dr. Shinar led me through the premises of the state of the art blood processing facility and described to me the cru- cial importance of Magen David Adorn to Israel. MDA is responsible for 100 percent of the blood requirements of the Israel Defense Force and over 95 percent of the Israeli hospi- tals and the general popula- tion. I watched many Israelis taking their turn to partici- pate in the ongoing blood drive and I saw the dedication of the staff. Rabbi Schwartz later wrote me a letter describing his emo- tions at helping save a life at this crucial juncture. "Giving blood in Israel is one happen- ing 1 shall never forget. There were seven of us from our mis- sion who volunteered to do- nate. When we arrived at the war on Even more prominently, syndicated columnist Robert Novak, another iongtime foe of Israel, put forward the no- tion last week in the Washing- ton Post that not only was Israel behind the push for war, but that the whole campaign against Saddam Hussein could be traced back to a paper writ- ten in 1996 for then Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu by, among others, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser. Perle, Feith and Wurmser are all now prominently associated with the Bush administration. In that paper, the authors urged Israel to join forceswith Jordan and Turkey to do some- thing about Saddam Hussein It also urged the United States to stop focusing on appeasing the Palestinians and advised Israel to start weaning itself from American economic aid. That sounds like sensible ad- vice, but, to the anti-Israel crowd, the presence of these Jewish supporters of Israel in the administration is enough to convince them that the war on Iraq is a Jewish conspiracy. Even an old liberal Demo- crat like former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart wasn't above mon- keying around with this topicS- Hart raised some hackles last month when he made some dark comments claiming that American foreign policy was being unduly influenced by groups whose loyalty was not- solely to the United States. Wink, ~ink, nudge, nudge. You know who he and the others raising this subject are talking about: The Jews in the administration and on Capitol Hill. Blood Center there was an all pervasive sense of excitement and urgency. We were greeted by a crew from Israel's Chan- nel 1, so I realized that this effort was a noteworthy story to Israelis." "The blood-giving process was administered in a compe- tent and compassionate man- ner. The staff helped the Americans fill out the forms and made sure we were medi- cally eligible to donate. The atmosphere was informal and exceptionally hygienic. Even though I have donated blood in the United gtates, it was a good feeling to give blood in Hebrew." He continued that "in my heart and soul I really felt that giving blood in Israel was a great mitzvah (-good deed). Yes, now I am truly con- nected by blood to my Israeli brothers and sisters." Rabbi Schwartz told me that he intends to wear the pin on his suit lapel, like a medal. In his first sermon after return- ing, he spoke at great length of the program's importance, medically as well as symboli- cally, for both Israelis and Americans. If you're going to Israel on a mission, to visit relatives, or whatever, consider joining the Sharing for Life program by contacting ARMDI. There is no greater bond and no greater sense of accomplishment. I understood my friend, Rabbi Schwartz's pride in wearing the medal. I wear one, too. For more information call the ARMDI office in New York (212-757-1627) or Lidiana Maor of Magen David Adorn in Israel (03-535-1379) A false charge Let's pretend for a minute that all of these questions are being raised in good faith. Is it fair to say that the war against Iraq is being fought for Israel's sake? The truth is, the charge holds no water. Israel has not advocated this war and has no guarantee it will benefit from it. Israel may be better off if Bush's plan for a democratic new Iraq revolutionizes the Arab world. But then again, so would the Arab world. Nor has the organized Jew- ish community mobilized be- hind the war. Jewish opinion on the war isn't much differ- ent from that of the rest of the American public. Most are for it but, sadly, Jews are well rep- resented in the anti-war move- ment. At least one of the despi- cable "human shields" who went to Iraq to protect the butcher of Baghdad is Jewish. But let's be honest. These questions about Israel's role and the influence of American Jewish staffers in the Bush administration are not being asked in good faith. The only reason anyone mentions the religious iden- tity of men like Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz or National Security Council staffer Elliot Abrams is to at- tempt to discredit them. The anti-war crowd knows that Wolfowitz, Abrams and others helped guide administration pol icy to reject the foolish poli- cies of Bill Clinton and the first George Bush, and eschew a strategy of forcing Israel to make concessions to terror- ists. See "Tobin" on page 21 P"CA I" "I"AIJ<, I ASOUl" I I "TO HAPPEI I I I II/ oIN<; 1"o II I Rabbinical wughts Where is God? By Rabbi R. J. Adler We can never talk enough about God because there is no end to the discussion. A Chassidic rebbe was once asked this question, where is God? And replied, wherever He is per- mitted to enter. Others will tell us that God is a mystery and hence we will never have a com- plete answer abut contemplat- ing is certainly worthwhile. We can certainly use our Torah as a guide in our search, beginning with Duet. 6,4,God is one, unique or unity Hashem Echod. The Jewish philosopher Spinoza explained God is One, as follows: "Nobody will dispute that this doctrine is absolutely necessary for complete devo- tion, admiration and love to- ward God. For devotion, admi- ration and love spring from the superiority of one all else." The second part ofourShema reveals even more about the God of Israel. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might (mater- hal sacrifice), giving your life and possessions, your complete aUegiance. Maimonides explains that loving God means to have as much knowledge of Him as possible. While Abraham Heschel stresses our mutual quest, God's quest for man and man's quest for GOd. The mod- ern rabbi, David Woipe put it this way; "The human quest, wherever and however defined in Jewish thought, is a joint, with humanity and God partici- pating together. God must be prodded by the prayers of hu- man beings to effect His own salvation! If GOd cannot seek salvation alone, surely human beings cannot." Additional assistance as to the knowledge about God is sup- plied in the Biblical passage tell- ing us that man was created in His image (Genesis 1, 27). Ac- cording to our rabbis that trans- lation to moral action and righ- teousness, to visiting the sick, the mourners and according to a modem definition as follows; "A respect for life, a sense of the rights of others, an ideal of fam- ily purity, high standards of de- cency and honor, a strong sym- pathy for the exploited and per- secuted-all these were explicit in the book and implicit in law and custom. When the Jew com- pared his morality with that of the world, he felt that the con- trast favored him immensely." (Milton Steinberg, Making of the Modern Jew, 1993). Another important indication of where is God is based on the Covenant idea. An ancient pact first made between God and Abraham and upheld by our people for over 3000 years and ratified at Sinai, at the entrance of the Holy Land and by our many prophets and sages throughout time. It guaranteed the well being of our soul and body, and provided us with faith, trust, and hope despite the Holo- caust, as Rabbi Fackenheim put it; "Jews are forbidden to despair of redemption or tobecome cyni- cal about the world and man." Today we hear much about the partnership between God and man but it is nota new idea at all. I believe that it is based on the Midrash which tells us, "When you are my witness I am God, when you are not my wit- ness I am, as it were, not God." (Midrash Tehillim). Elsewhere theMidrash tells us, God is king when His children decorate themselves with good deeds and Torah. As to my question, where is God? Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan once replied; "The pious man is never alone for God is within the reach of his heart. He is content to merge h!s being into that of the God he loves." Fi- nally, we as Jews begin every blessing or praise of God with the words, "Praise be Thou," as though we were addressing an intimate friend and so it is, God is no stranger to us, He is our steady companion, He is always present. Most of our knowledge about God and Israel is based, of course, on the Torah of Moses of which Rabbi I.M. Wise wrote; "Moses was the greatest artist and he left to posterity that im- perishable statue of truth its pedestal is the earth, its head reaches heaven's dome; the name of that inimitable colos- sus in Israel, t he immortal, a nation graced by the choice of God," (Moses, 1889).