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The Road to War or to Peace?
Unfortunately, Americans have little interest in international affairs, even in a community like Palo Alto. The World Association of International Studies follows these affairs very closely, and there are reasons to worry. One problem is that issues are evaded for fear of being branded racist or anti-Semitic. Those of us who admire, respect, and like Jews are open to these charges, yet the threat of another war impels us to speak up.
This mutism is not reciprocal. I have heard at Stanford many remarks by Jews belittling or even ridiculing Christianity. There is a Jewish organization called Flame which publishes articles ridiculing the Arabs. Jewish historians are circulating books blaming Germans in general for the holocaust. Since I lived in Germany under Hitler, I know the picture was much more shaded. Jewish attacks on the role of the Catholic Church are also exaggerated and unfair. Note that I am not active in any church. However much we may deplore the holocaust, the creation of the state of Israel had consequences against which the State Department and the Foreign Office gave clear warnings, which the Truman administration disregarded for political reasons.
Two direct results have been first, Islamic terrorism directed against the United States, and second, the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries where they previously held a respected, even honored place. Israel was created, and it is an island of enlightenment in a backward world. The best solution now is to work out a peaceful solution. Unfortunately there are fanatics of both sides.
On the Israeli side there are Orthodox extremists, whose actions are likely to spark war. They are supported by co-religionaries in the United States, and we must do all we can to restrain them. For the reason mentioned above, there is hesitation to speak out. Jews were very active in the campaign against the cross on Mount Davidson close to San Francisco, on the grounds of the separation of church and state. When the cross and its land were sold to Armenian Christians, they brought suit to rescind the sale, but failed.
Yet Orthodox Jews set up a Menorah is San Francisco's central Union Square, and the press ran photographs of a rabbi dancing around it in crazy triumph. No one dared to object. To say that a Menorah and an eruv are cultural, not religious symbols is a dishonest evasion.
The proposal by some Orthodox Jews to surround Palo Alto with an eruv has aroused citizens who generally prefer to avoid trouble. Palo Alto City attorney Ariel Calonne has warned the city of the danger of a lawsuit. The eruv mentality is related to the land claims of extremist Jews in Israel.
The map of the eruv published in the December 15 issue of the Palo Alto Weekly shows that it would enclose not only Palo Alto but also Stanford University, including the residential area where I live. I object to this, and the resentment of campus Muslims will be much stronger. Their anger may lead to violence.
All this is the result of the activities of some Orthodox Jews similar to and possibly related to those responsible for the aggressiveness which endangers the peace of Israel. We must avoid anything which would encourage these Orthodox Jews, and we ask that Islamic leaders use their influence to control their extremist elements.
Great wars are often triggered by small incidents, just as a pebble or simply a shout can start an avalanche. To reject this warning as anti-Semitism is as silly as saying that those who warn against anything American are anti-American. The Palo Alto City Council and Stanford University should take heed.
Ronald Hilton - 1/16/00