Political Involvement (Vol. 46, Issue 2)
“Menachem Begin reminds me of my father. They look alike, talk alike and come from the same orthodox tradition. My father was so orthodox that, when the eldest of my six sisters married a non-Jew, he sat shivah and ordered my mother also to perform the rites for the dead. My sister was mortally wounded by this rejection. She would surreptitiously visit me, her baby brother, as I played in the streets. My tiny heart could hardly contain the anguish and compassion I felt for her… She obediently died a few years later — of colitis, which many psychologists connect with repressed. grief or anger, ... Just as my father’s beliefs unwittingly contributed to the death of a loved one, so is outdated political orthodoxy contributing to the destruction of our own people… I have read more than one hint from Arafat himself, that given the right climate for negotiations, the PLO might be willing to offer Israel peace in exchange for a Palestinian state.”
The above lines are excerpts from the Sept 15 issue of Newsweek. As I read the article, my blood boiled. I was convinced that the author of the article was not simply a naive idiot. He was clearly an anti-Semite. This fact became painfully clear with his vile diatribe against orthodox Jews. He certainly would not dare to illustrate his anti-Begin stand with an anecdote insulting blacks, lest he be accused of being racist. He should similarly be careful to avoid smearing orthodox Jewry in his presentation of his anti-Begin stand. His revolting depiction of orthodox Jews will certainly increase anti-Semetic as well as anti-Israel feeling in America.
I spoke to other committed Jews about this article, and they too expressed their indignation and their disgust.
So what? Who cares? What have indignation, disgust, or fury, accomplished. So, I did the only thing that I could do. I wrote a letter of protest to Newsweek. One might ask, “What is one letter of protest to Newsweek going to do? They will laugh it off.” I answer that if Newsweek would have gotten two million letters of. protest about this article, they would have thought twice before ever smearing the Jews again.
The Mishnah in Pirkei-Avoth says, “Lo Alecha hamelacha ligmor, ve lo ata ben chorin leheebatel meemenah.” My interpretation of this Mishnah is that sometimes an individual's efforts in a given situation are not very effective without the additional efforts of many other people. One might therefore be tempted to say, “Why should I do my part if no one else will do theirs? Wha will I accomplish by myself?” The Mishnah says that each individual has the obligation to do his part regardless of whether others will do theirs. Otherwise, no movement would ever get started, because everyone will simply say, “I might as well not do anything, because no one else is doing anything and I can not accomplish anything by myself.” Everyone should do his part, then perhaps we will achieve our goal together.
I say, therefore, that every Jew has an obligation to speak out against every injustice perpetrated against the Jewish people, be it by Newsweek, The New York Times, or the President of the United States. If 7 million letters of protest would have flooded the White House after Secretary of State Muskie abstained in the Security Council vote calling on all nations to move their embassies out of Jerusalem, you could be sure that America would be more reluctant to pull a stunt like that in the future.
I call on all Jews to write letters regularly to their congressmen, senators, and especially to their president to voice their feelings about issues concerning the Jewish people today. I am sure that the 15 minutes per week that it would take would not be terribly hard to find.
It is evident from my article that I am a big “chussid” of Jews being involved in contemporary politics. For this reason I think that the Op-Ed issue is very important. Op-Ed allows us the opportunity to exchange knowledge and ideas about topics of political interest in order to be able to make better political decisions.