Commentary Magazine


The JDL

To the Editor:

In his condemnation of the Jewish Defense League Milton Himmelfarb [“Never Again!,” August] has overlooked one basic concept: namely, that turning the other cheek is a Christian concept, not a Jewish one. . . . One must also keep in mind that to turn the other cheek one must be sure that one’s jaw will not be broken. . . .

The Jew has never had the assurance that his jaw will not be broken when his cheek is turned. The only times the Jew has survived have been the times that he has fought. To be sure, there have been periods in history when the Jew not only was left alone but was also permitted to rise as far as his talents would let him. But those times have been the exceptions, not the rule.

Mr. Himmelfarb is correct in opening his article with various quotations that one should not follow in the footsteps of one’s father if one’s father is wrong. Today’s Jewish fathers who were young during the Hitler era must shoulder the blame for not alerting the free world to what was coming. . . .

In the attempt not to rock the boat, the American Jews let their brothers die. . . . The lines are now being drawn in the fight to free the Russian . . . Jews. There can be no fence-sitters this time.

Next Yom Kippur, instead of closing the service with “Next Year in Jerusalem,” let us say “Never Again!”

Stephen H. Katz
C. W. Post College
Greenvale, New York

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To the Editor:

. . . Apparently Milton Himmelfarb is referring to the activities of the Jewish Defense League when he writes: “We say we will stop when the Soviet Union stops. Let it stop persecuting the Soviet Jews. Let it stop forbidding them to do what they need and want to do in order to be Jews.” It is disconcerting to find that Mr. Himmelfarb, who is generally judicious when he appraises the Establishment Jewish organizations, takes the antics of the JDL seriously. Bombing and vandalizing Russian property, releasing stink-bombs and mice at concerts of Russian artists, shouting obscenities at Russian diplomatic personnel and their wives on the street, can only harm the struggle of the Russian Jews to maintain their identity and will also dissipate the sympathy the outside world might have for their plight. It is regrettable, too, that the media give the JDL publicity out of proportion to its importance and thus provide a platform for Rabbi Kahane. . . The JDL slogan, “Never Again!” . . . is an insult to the memory of the six million.

Joseph Kutay
Bushkill, Pennsylvania

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Milton Himmelfarb writes:

Mr. Katz: If the Jews are embattled, more than ever we need not only courage but also clear thinking—not slogan thinking.

Mr. Kutay: Why do you think that by “we” I meant the JDL, when I meant the Jews? The things I said we would stop doing are set forth unambiguously—not stink bombs, obscenities, and the like, but demonstrating and picketing, in order to make the Russian government pay more for its anti-Jewish policies and deeds, in bad publicity, than it is willing to pay. As to TV, I suggested a reason why it misreports.

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