This past Sept. 28 marks a 21st anniversary that Detroit’s Jewish community will not celebrate.
Not all stories that one finds in the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History are pleasant. Nevertheless, certain subjects are still worthy of remembrance.
A case in point: This past Sept. 28 marks a 21st anniversary that Detroit’s Jewish community will not celebrate. It’s been two decades since the onset of the Second Intifada in Israel, the so-called “Al-Aqsa Intifada.” Allegedly sparked by a visit by Israeli politician Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount, this intifada, or “uprising” to use the Arabic translation, was a five-year period of extreme violence directed against Israeli citizens, 2000-2005. Its only accomplishment appears to have been an estimated 1,000 Israeli and 3,000 Palestinian deaths, and a dimming of the prospects for peace.
Violence between Jews and Arabs has century-old roots, of course. There was prejudice toward and acts of violence against Jews in the Middle East before the 20th century, but after the Balfour Declaration in 1917, there was increasing terrorism against Jews, as well as conflicts between Jews and Arabs. The culmination was a massive attack on the nation of Israel as soon as it was established in 1948. Israel had to defend itself during the 1948 War of Independence, and subsequent major conflicts including the 1967 Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the War of Attrition between those wars. Casualties from these wars were the worst in Israel’s history. In sheer numbers, however, those of the Second Intifada rank as the fourth largest, the result of suicide bombings and rampant shootings in an extreme escalation from the First Intifada, 1987-1993.
I’ll admit that I hesitated to write about the Second Intifada. However, history is important and should never be forgotten, no matter if pleasant or not. It informs us for the future. Moreover, in this particular instance, I found compelling stories in the Archive, as well as continued references to the Second Intifada.
The JN covered the First Intifada. I found a story, “The Rosh Hashanah Riots,” in its Oct. 10, 2000 issue. This was the newspaper’s first detailed report on the beginnings of the Second Intifada. Another story published in the Nov. 24, 2000, issue of the JN, “Sleepless in Gilo,” discussed the lives of Israelis in the midst of daily gunfire and violence. In the March 28, 2004, issue of JN, while the Second Intifada still raged, there is a review of David Horovitz’s book about enduring the experience: Still Life with Bombers: Israel in the Age of Terrorism.
The Archive also has stories related to the direct impact of the Second Intifada on Detroit Jews. For example, Zieva Konvisser, like many Detroiters, visited Israel during this era which led her to write “Living Beyond Terrorism,” an inquiry into the experiences of terrorism survivors — see the JN from Feb. 19, 2009, and March 2, 2014. The Jewish Federation sponsored trips to Israel in 2001 to help with the flagging tourism industry there. Allan Gale told me how eerie it was to be there on Sept. 11, 2001.
I also wrote this Looking Back while thinking about Israel’s recent diplomatic breakthroughs with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which do bring hope for the future.
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.