Declaring her unqualified support for Israel, actress and political activist Jane Fonda condemned the “double standard” which has been applied to Israel over the war in Lebanon, and said she attributed this in part to anti-Semitism as well as to the tendency of many individuals to have “knee jerk reactions” on behalf of Third World nations.
“I love Israel and what I think it represents to the United States is what a true ally should be,” Fonda declared to an overflow audience at Town Hall last Thursday for Rabbi William Berkowitz’ Dialogue Forum Series. According to Berkowitz, founder and moderator of the Dialogue Series which he began 32 years ago Fonda’s appearance elicited more calls of inquiry than for any other speaker in the series in past years.
As hundreds were turned away at the door, Fonda spoke on a range of subjects, including the Holocaust, which she said “we must keep talking about”, her support for Israel, and the plight of Soviet Jewry. She was frequently interrupted by applause from the some 2,000 persons in attendance.
MUST SPEAK OUT ON SOVIET JEWRY
Speaking passionately of Soviet Prisoners of Conscience Ida Nudel and Anatoly Shcharansky, Fonda assailed the “institutionalized” anti-Semitism of the Soviet Union. She also said her frequent calls to Soviet Embassies to protest the treatment of Soviet Jews had recently received harsh responses. “They don’t even try to be nice anymore,” she said.
“It is extremely difficult to know what to do, but it is real clear that if we stop protesting and remain silent on the issue of what is being done to the Jews in the Soviet Union, they will be lost,” Fonda declared.
“It’s a shame because Russia is a great country with a great history and great people,” Fonda continued. “It is a sign of a weak, petty country that they behave this way to Jews, that they deny the right of their people to leave the country and go to Israel.”
DENOUNCES PALESTINIAN TERRORISTS
Regarding what she claimed to be a “double standard” toward Israel, Fonda said Israel “can’t make mistakes and when Israel makes mistakes, many people, including Jews, scream and yell.” She asked who had criticized PLO chief Yasir Arafat and what he “represents.”
“It’s easy to sit over here, Jew and non-Jew, and criticize, but we haven’t lived on the border of Lebanon and we were not shelled for 12 years” by Palestinian terrorists, she said. Israel, she said, is surrounded by a “sea of fanaticism. These countries are against women, against democracy, and every right we hold dear, and they’re anti-Semitic.”
Fonda called for a more balance and less biased assessment before criticising, and said: “Maybe if there had been as much focus in what was going on in Lebanon before the war, the war would not have had to happen.”
Commenting on her five-day visit to Israel last summer with her husband, Tom Hayden, Fonda said that during the course of conversations with Israeli soldiers who had returned from the front lines and others who had been wounded in combat, many expressed “profound questions” about the war in Lebanon. But she reported that despite this, the soldiers said they would return to combat if summoned again.
She also noted the deep sense of mourning among the Israeli population for Israeli casualties and for the Lebanese civilian population which had been caught up in the war. She reported that many soldiers had been ordered to hesitate from shooting civilians, which in some cases, she said, may have resulted in the death of an Israeli soldier.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.