By: Henry Grinberg  | 

Letter to the Editor: Viet Nam (Vol. 31, Issue 9)

To the Editor:

On one day President Johnson resumes the bombing of North Vietnam, and on the next a YC student delegation appears at the White House bearing an 800-signature petition in support of that policy. It is heartening to observe how our undergraduates are involving themselves in affairs that embrace the larger world community. It dispels a massive misunderstanding of mine — that our students were somehow “aloof” to events outside the Jewish experience. And the arena that our students have chosen for their global debut is so entirely appropriate to their religious training and to their possible involvement with the fighting in Vietnam that it takes the breath away.

It is admirable to support one’s country, and it is imperative to do so when one believes that one's country is in the right. Of course, many young Americans are engaged in ardent debate about the cruelly complex Vietnam issue — as it is their right, for it is they who must do the killing and the dying. And this is quite apart from their scrutiny of the policy as a whole.

I am sorry to say that I have had direct experience with war; it is a vile and despairing form of human expression. Yet, I am confident that our students mean what they say and that they would not wish others to be put in hazard for their convictions. Hence I assume that all those who signed the White House petition will inevitably enlist for service in Vietnam — not necessarily as combatants. It is understandable that rabbinical students, and those of similar lofty aspirations, will not wish to kill. But I am sure that the medical and chaplains’ departments of the military will welcome them to comfort and help heal young Americans, Vietnamese, Koreans, and Australians who suffer with their bodies in ways that signers of petitions, I fervently pray, will not have to endure.

Henry Grinberg

Instructor in English

Stern College for Women