9/12/01: An attack on Jews, too, prof says

This story appeared on Sept. 12, 2001.

CHAMPAIGN — Local Jews felt the pain of an embattled America, but had special worries of their own.

Sinai Temple held a special service Tuesday evening, hours after a threatening phone call made the synagogue concerned about its own security.

Sinai President Lisa Libman said an unidentified caller said "you are responsible" for the terrorist attack, because Jews in Israel elected a right-wing leader.

Champaign police watched the building as members gathered to recite the mourning Kaddish in Aramaic and the 23rd Psalm in English, as well as a shofar solo.

Rabbi Norman Klein offered a prayer for help from God, including guidance for the nation's leaders.

"Step No. 1 is to protect ourselves" as the High Holidays approach, Klein said. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is on Sept. 18; Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is Sept. 27.

But the congregation was also concerned with political realities.

University of Illinois political science Professor Ira Carmen gave a brief presentation on the day's meaning for Jews here and in Israel.

"I never thought I would see another Pearl Harbor," he said. But "not even Germany or Japan were successful in penetrating these borders."

He called the attack one on not only the American people and the Constitution, but "an attack on the Jewish people."

Carmen suggested the attacks in Washington and New York may have been in retaliation for the United States' pulling out of the United Nations Conference on Racism.

The professor said that five times the Arabs have made war on Israel, and this begins the sixth.

He urged the Bush government to "hunt down the enemies" in the process of making war on terrorism.

"There will be no peace in the Middle East tomorrow," he said. But he also argued against a "new McCarthyism" aimed at Arab-Americans.

This last sentiment was echoed by Elizabeth Klein Shapiro.

"I feel for law-abiding Muslims," she said. "We know what it is to be condemned as a people."

Andrea Klein stressed that the terrorism was aimed at Americans of all religions and ethnicities.

"I feel targeted as an American. I feel we need to mourn this as Americans," she said.

UI mathematics Professor Paul Weichsel criticized UI President James Stukel for a mass e-mail about the situation that referred to "unresolved international conflicts."

He called the reference "very ominous" and asked the president to clarify the statement.

 

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