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Page 2-THE NEWS-June/July, 1988
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Colonel North: Deja Vu to Nuremberg
By Rabbi Marc H. Wilson
“God bless you and Semper Fidelis”...
True to form, Colonel Oliver North in
voked God-and-Country as he virtuously
resigned his commission, announced his
contempt for his accusers and embarked
on a renewed campaign to touch a patriotic
spot in the hearts and pocketbooks of Mid
In a way, I am glad that we have not
heard the last of Oliver North. It offers
another opportunity to admonish those
who will listen that the Oliver North men
tality is a malignancy that profoundly
threatens America’s essential values and
ideals. The populace is making a tragic
mistake by adulating Oliver North as a na
tional hero and a symbol of American
spirit at its best.
It is not so much that his politics are ob
jectionable. That is a matter of partisan
debate. There is, however, a certain deja
vu about North’s persona, rhetoric and
self-justification that should cause a knot
in the pit of our stomach. The knot of ten
sion should be redoubled by the public’s
swift acclamation of North as a patriot.
Senator Inouye courageously alluded to it
during the Iran-Contra Hearings, and took
his lumps for drawing the analogy. Yet, the
analogy demands our thoughtful attention
as we force ourselves to reexamine Amer
ica’s basic concepts of patriotism and
heroism: The deja vu evoked by Colonel
North is to the German War Crimes trials
at Nuremberg, less than a half-century
ago: the cockiness, the smug self
assuredness, the haughtiness of the we-
know-better-thsm-you attitude, the intima
tion of inerrancy.
The underlying premises of North’s self
justification are even more disturbing than
his arrogance. A good soldier again pious
ly avers that he was “just following
orders.” A good soldier again declares
public deception a virtue when it protects
a distorted notion of national honor or a
superior’s reputation. A good soldier again
proclaims his immunity from the scrutiny
of moral and legal processes, eisserting that
he and his compatriots have better defin
ed our national interests.
And a myopic, jingoistic populace sends
him cakes and flowers. It declares him a
hero and a role model of real American
values. It rumbles about how he might
even make a good President or Secretary
of State. And it will, no doubt, contribute
generously to his legal defense, if, that is,
Candlelighting .- y'v
3 - 8:15 p.m.
July 15 - 8:20 p.m.
10 - 8:19 p.m.
July 22 - 8:16 p.m. U ([ •
17 • 8:21 p.m.
July 24 - Tisha B’Av yV
24 - 8:23 p.m.
July 29 - 8:11 p.m.
1 - 8:23 p.m.
Aug. 5 - 8:05 p.m.
8 - 8:22 p.m.
Aug. 12-7:57 p.m.
Next issue is in August.
Deadline for copy is July 10.
Have a nice, safe summer.
Mitchell Rolnick, son of Mr.
and Mrs. Iven Rolnick, re
ceived the following letter
from the aunt of his Russian
“twin” just three days after
Mitch's Bar Mitzvah.
After eleven years of refusal,
Kiril Altman with his family
got confirmation to leave the
Soviet Union. I guess this
Rosh Hashanah, G-d willing,
they will be free, maybe in the
If you want to continue cor
responding with him, let me
know please. I'll send you his
new address when I get it, or
Kiril, himself, will write you.
Your Sioma Altman
his Commander-in-Chief doesn’t graciously
pardon him first.
Deja vu...Were these issues not decisive
ly resolved forever at Nuremberg? If
Nuremberg taught us anything, was it not
that “good soldiers” do not exonerate
themselves from illegality by announcing
that they were “just following orders?”
Did Nuremberg not teach us that lying to
protect a superior’s position in the face of
his wrongdoing is not heroic, but criminal?
Did we not learn from Nuremberg that
men, particularly of a military bent, must
not be allowed to define national interest
outside the bounds of law and morality on
the premise that they know better that
which will best serve their country? Did
we not leam from Nuremberg that only the
most fragile line distinguishes patriotism
from the madness of the ends always justi
fying the means and its hellish conse
quences? Is it not clear that Colonel North
defames the very country to which he
pledges his unswerving loyalty by vowing
allegiance to the very principles that
Nuremberg taught us to abhor?
No, I am not even vaguely intimating
that Oliver North is a Nazi. Heaven for
bid. Yet, some of us cannot help but hear
alarms go off whenever society too narrow
ly defines patriotism as unquestioning, lock
step loyalty and when a distorted concept
of national honor justifies actions far
beyond the dictates of law and morality.
My Dad was also a Colonel, an anti
aircraft battalion commander, a World
War II veteran. I asked him if he had any
empathy for Oliver North’s situation. His
response was typically blunt: “He violated
every basic rule of established military
We fought our bloodiest war to protect
the world from the very mentality for
which a significant segment of the
American populace now adulates Oliver
North. We know only too well where the
leadership of such “good soldiers” takes
By Nuremberg’s standards, Oliver
North is no^a hero. He is a criminal. For
the sake of God-and-Country, don’t send
him cakes, flowers or your money. Don’t
wear his t-shirts or his hair-do. Don’t tell
your kids to grow up to be just like him.
At best we are fools, at worst we are
creating a most dangerous national
climate, by making him and his ilk the ob
jects of our veneration.
FRIENPSHIP WtTH ULS.A
Letters to the Editor
Have We Forgotten
I am saddened at the lack of
response from the Charlotte
news media and the communi
ty in general to the Holocaust
Commemoration presented on
April 17 at Central Piedmont
Community College. This pro
vocative and moving program
presented by the National
Conference of Christians and
Jews, the Charlotte Jewish
Federation, the Charlotte
Area Clergy Association and
Central Piedmont Community
College had precious little
publicity and few represen
tatives from even the sponsor
ing organizations present.
Some 30 people demonstrated
their concern by attending.
The philosopher George
Santayana tells us that those
who forget the past are con
demned to repeat it. The
Charlotte community’s feeble
response to the memory of
nine million lives lost in the
Holocaust is both discourag
ing and disturbing. Is the
most cataclysmic event of the
20th Century, the very defini
tion of human evil, so soon for
I urge aU those who revere
human dignity to not only re
member the past, but to speak
out against hatred, prejudice
and oppression now and in the
Israel is Not
I am writing in response to
the various letters regarding
Israel published in the May
edition of The CJN.
In a letter to Alan Blumen-
thal. Senator Jesse Helms ex
pressed his dismay that the
media have failed to cover the
current situation in “...the con
text of America’s interest in a
strong Israel.” While this may
be true, I submit that Israel
cannot be truly strong when
she is dependent upon foreign
economic and military aid and
when so meiny of the resources
necessary to achieve economic
independence are used for
military purposes. Israel’s
policy toward the West Bank
exacerbates this dependency
because it polarizes the parties
involved to such an extent
that military involvement wiU
I am always pleased to see
young people express their
opinions. However, 1 was
disappointed that the consen
sus of the young writers (“Let
ters to the Jewish Communi
ty”) seemed to be that Jews
should not criticize Israel.
Such a view is contrary to the
teachings of the prophets, who
constantly spoke out against
the practices of the Jewish
leadership of their day. Can
you imagine Isaiah counseling
fellow Jews to keep silent
because criticism might
strengthen the Assyrians?
Judaism imposes a duty of op
posing injustice, regar^ess of
the circumstances. I think we
also have an obligation to ad
vocate possible solutions, but
that is beyond the scope of
I must acknowledge that it
is easy for me, as an American
citizen, to make these com
ments. I do so because I be
lieve they are in Israel’s best
interest. I believe the occupa
tion is not only moreiUy wrong,
it is ineffective. The longer it
continues, the more intransi
gent all sides will become, with
consequences affecting all of
We encourage our
readers’ viewpoints. Letters
should be submitted
typewritten and double
spaced and signed. Please
include your address and
phone number. We reserve
the right to edit.
THE CHARLOTTE JEWISH NEWS
Published monthly by:
Charlotte Jewish Federation Michael L. Minkin, Director
Foundation of Charlotte Jewish Community &
Jewish Community Center Barry Hantman, Director
Charlotte Jewish Day School Berta Straz, Principal
Lubavitch of N.C Rabbi Yossi Gronef, Director
Editor Rita Mond
Advertising Blanche Yarus
Copy deadline the 10th of each month
P.O. Box 13369, Chark>tte. N.C. 28211
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