DURING THE 1984 ELECTION, more than 60 percent of Jewish voters picked Reagan. In response, Reagan announced during this past Passover that he would do just that to the jews--pass over them.
In a disastrous attempt to bury the hatchet, Reagan had initially refused to visit Holocaust sites during his visit to Germany for the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II. Instead, he decided to visit a German war cemetery where some of Adolf Hitler's SS troops are buried.
Living in Hollywood for much of his life, Reagan might not have known that 12 million people--5.8 million of them Jewish--were, deliberately and systematically killed in the same war that John Wayne and Henry Fonda fought on the silver screen. That was over one-third of the Jewish population during World War II.
Although Reagan has agreed to visit the site of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp also, he will still go to Bitburg. Menachem Rosensalt, founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, which represents 5000 siblings of survivors, called Reagan's cemetery vacation plans a "calculated insult."
Said Rosensalt, "While he refuses to go to pay homage to the victims of the Holocaust on the site of a Nazi concentration camp, he now intends to go to a German military cemetery and lay a wreath on a grave of German soldiers who wore a swastika on their uniform and who died preventine Allied forces from liberating the death camps."
In the cynical wake of Vietnam, modern observers have a tendency to have a relativistic view of the aftermath of a war. In Vietnam it was hard to tell just who were the bad guys and who were the good guys. In war against Germany, there can be no such conclusion. The number of innocent people persecuted by the Germans and the member of Jews tortured and murdered by the German genocidal machine testify to the evil of the German cause.
REAGAN INLANDS to honor the soldiers of the Third Reich. The mentality behind Reagan's tribute is that the Germans had brave soldiers too, who showed their courage and determination in the thick of battle just as the Allied soldiers did. But what were the Nazis fighting to preserve?
To answer this Reagan must look beyond the feeble facade of German nationalism and pride. Reagan must look deep into wartime Germany, when roving bands of Nazi thugs terrorized Jewish neighborhoods. He must look into the ovens of Auschwitz and see the baked forms of Jews. He must go see the German government-sponsored labs of Josel Mengele, where Jews were used as experimental animals, frozen to death, put in high pressure chambers, injected with viruses. Reagan must wear Nazi gloves made from the skin of Jews, feel cloth woven from their hair. He must see the gas chambers, and lastly he must see the ditches filled with hundreds of thousands of non-Jews, Johaovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, Gypsies, the mentally at the chronically sick.
These are the bitter fruits of the Third Reich. And Reagan would pay homage to the gardeners. In honor Nazis Reagan commats a grave evil. There can be no honor in defending an unjust cause.
The Reagan administration knows a visit to a Nazi cemetery is wrong. Administration officials were testing public reaction, and when it was indignant, claimed the plan was "tentative" when the original itinerary contained no such word. Only public pressure can prevent such moral oversites from occuring, and only apathetic criteria can augment them Reagan might change his mind, but the intent was there, Kenneth Bialk chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith, says, "What kind of symbolism does one attach to a visit that includes a ceremony to the agents of the Holocaust at the same time that he has chosen not to show the same kind of reverence for the victims?"
Reagan has made a clear choice. He has decided to alienate his Jewish constituency and his moral constituency to win the good favor of the German government. He will judge the wisdom of his choice by the size of the public outery. So far that outcry has not been indignant enough. One can only fear for the moral darkness that has fallen over this country, and listed to the whispered accusations of anti-Semitism in the dark.