White supremacist protesters clash with police in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12. Photo by Evan Nesterak via Wikimedia Commons.

Is it possible to fight both neo-Nazis and left-wing anti-Semites?


We live in a time when, as the U.S. State Department has noted, a “rising tide of anti-Semitism” has swept across the globe. Anti-Semitism has crept into the mainstream from the margins of society in the West, as a coalition of intellectual elites and Muslims has produced a surge of venom against Israel and Jews who identify with it. That movement has found a foothold on American campuses and among left-wing groups, resulting in Jews being stigmatized and isolated in the public square, and students being subjected to violence and intimidation.

But the growth of this noxious form of hate is not what most American Jews are most worried about. Instead, it is the spectacle of neo-Nazis and their Ku Klux Klan and alt-right allies parading in Charlottesville, Va., that scares Jews the most.

A reasonable argument can be put forward to assert that, even now, with far-right anti-Semites being more active than in recent memory, their left-wing counterparts pose a more serious menace to global Jewish security. But fear of the anti-Semitic right is always going to be the threat that resonates the most in the Jewish community. The thought process leading to the conclusion behind this mindset might be debatable, but it also reflects a disturbing truth about the persistence of anti-Semitism and the failure of both liberals and conservatives to think clearly about the issue.

Part of the reason why right-wing anti-Semites are scarier to American Jews is a function of imagery and historical memory. The spectacle in Charlottesville of large numbers of neo-Nazis and Klan members holding a torchlight parade while chanting anti-Semitic slogans is chilling in of itself, but also because it is reminiscent of the Holocaust. These thugs aren’t anything close to being the threat the Nazis were in Germany, but their brazenness provides a visceral shock that even the most vicious and perhaps more influential Jew-haters on the left can’t provoke.

The increasingly central role anti-Semitic attitudes are playing on the left often flies under the flag of anti-Zionism rather than open Jew-hatred. But that is a distinction without a difference. Even in the U.S., where it is less prevalent than in Europe, this has meant boycotts and even violence, as well as inflammatory rhetoric—coming from many prominent members of the anti-Trump “resistance”—that demonizes affiliated Jews as racist oppressors.

Liberal Jews have been slow to respond to this threat because it requires them to confront erstwhile allies who are part of the Democratic Party base or groups they view with sympathy, like Black Lives Matter or organizations that purport to represent the LGBTQ community.

But liberals aren’t the only ones who have ignored things that didn’t fit into their worldview. Republicans have become a lockstep pro-Israel party, and the main organs of conservatism like National Review chased anti-Semites out long ago. This has led Jewish conservatives to believe the virus of right-wing anti-Semitism was dead and buried. But anti-Semitism on the right has made a comeback in the form of a virulent and violent alt-right movement that rejects mainstream conservatism.

Neo-Nazis and the Klan, and their alt-right allies, may be small in number and make up only an infinitesimal fraction of the coalition that elected Trump. But their impact is magnified by Trump’s reluctance to consistently take them on. Trump is no anti-Semite and has governed as a staunch friend of Israel. Yet he has encouraged right-wing anti-Semites by alleging a false moral equivalence with those who oppose them, while also signaling sympathy with the cause (preserving Confederate statues) that the anti-Semites and racists turned out to support in Charlottesville.

Neo-Nazis may seem scarier than Jew-haters on the left, but the challenge for American Jews now lies in trying to rise above the partisan loyalties that can blind us to both sides of the anti-Semitic coin.

Liberals prefer to ignore the potent influence of those who promulgate anti-Semitic boycotts of Israel while encouraging intimidation and attacks against Jews. Many seem to think calling out left-wing anti-Semites in the anti-Trump resistance is not as important as opposing the administration. At the same time, conservatives need to acknowledge that speaking up about the anti-Semitic right isn’t chasing ghosts. They need to understand that calling out Trump for his encouragement of alt-right anti-Semites will neither betray Israel nor aid left-wing Jew-haters.

What is needed is a Jewish community with the wisdom to take up the fight against hate and bigotry no matter its origin. Until that happens, liberals and conservatives alike will continue to fail to adequately address a problem that ought to transcend politics.


Jonathan S. Tobin is opinion editor of JNS.org and a contributing writer for National Review. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.

Jewish name-calling: a note on Michael Oren, Leon Wieseltier and the art of insult


SHAKESPEARE said it so sweetly.

“What’s in a name?” the Bard mused in “Romeo and Juliet,” his immortal romance about hostile households. “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.”

In Jewish tradition, names are taken a tad more seriously. Families give deep consideration to the perfect, commemorative, or even prophetic names for their newborns. And every Shabbat, parents bless their children that they should be like “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.” These names are not arbitrary, and the qualities of character they signify are singular.

But what about insults?

Last week, Donald Trump, the billionaire real-estate mogul with aims for the oval office saw fit to describe at least most Mexicans crossing the border as “killers” and “rapists.” His offensive blitz sadly deprived the world of the finer points of the Miss Universe Pageant, and cost him some tens of millions of dollars and counting, but it also had the stunning effect of driving up his polling in Trump’s wishful bid for the White House.

Name calling, it turns out, is cool.

This is good news for the Jews, or at least a very slender bunch of Jewish men, who have made headlines throughout the last year for carping at each other through a combination of crude, clever or simply comical name-calling.

We might say it started back in October 2014, when Atlantic journalist Jeffrey Goldberg fearfully reported that “The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations is Officially Here[!] (emphasis mine).” Goldberg wasted no time getting to the good stuff up top: In his lead, he declared that a senior Obama administration official had referred to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as “a chickenshit.

Forget Cairo; forget settlements; forget a nuclear Iran: The implication of this juicy jibe was that if high-ranking government officials were disparaging each other with salty smears, things between Washington and Jerusalem were really falling apart!

Even in reverse, the name-calling episode again proved propitious in the polls, and the slighted Netanyahu later won re-election.

For those of us who love a clever cut-down, there is at least one upside to the fact that the U.S.-Israel squabbles have not since subsided. In fact, they have been recently refueled by the release of MK Michael Oren’s book “Ally.” The former Israeli Ambassador’s tale of disappointed expectations at America has spawned a vociferous series of Jew versus Jew quarreling, much of it defamatory.

Let’s start with the book’s title: “Ally,” which is itself a kind of name-calling, since Oren goes on to critique Israel’s allies, including: the American President, American Jews and American Jewish journalists.

Things get worse inside the book for all of the aforementioned but especially, apparently, for Leon Wieseltier, one of the Jewish world’s leading intellectuals and a contributing editor to The Atlantic. In his indictment of American Jewish journalists, some of whom Oren claims use their Jewish identity as a credential for criticizing Israel, Oren also had the chutzpah to parallel Wieseltier’s sustained and searing critique of Bibi Netanyahu (he once referred to the Israeli PM as “a gray, muddling, reactive figure…a creature of the bunker”) with the same pathological hatred of Jews we call anti-Semitism.

Right or wrong, Wieseltier interpreted the slight as an accusation. “I don’t take kindly to being called anti-Semitic and I don’t take kindly to having Jewish self-hatred attributed to me,” he told Moment Magazine’s Nadine Epstein during a recent interview at the annual Association of Jewish Libraries conference. Wieseltier then penned a savage response to the epithet for the Atlantic, calling Oren, “my Javert,” a reference to the antagonist of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, an unforgiving police inspector who obsessively pursues the hero of the story.

That’s when things got really fun — like during a schoolyard fight, when a whole bunch of boys rush in, start yelling and take sides? Only this was the Jewish version, which is to say, with words:

In the Wall Street Journal, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bret Stephens belittled Wieseltier as “the gray eminence of minor magazines.” (Wieseltier must be so relieved that he is no longer literary editor of The New Republic and now writing for the not-so-minor Atlantic.) In the Forward, Raphael Magarik went to the mattresses on Wieseltier, naming him, alternately, “the king of spurious and lazy accusations,” “a fine ironist,” “the Grand Inquisitor himself,” “the gray-haired sage of D.C.” (though, it must be said here that Leon’s hair is actually bridal-white), and best of all, “the lion of Brooklyn.”

On the other side, Josh Marshall, editor and publisher of the political blog TalkingPointsMemo.com took Oren to task, calling him “The Ridiculous Mr. Oren,” an “over-clever asshole,” and also, incidentally, throws in a few barbs for Netanyahu, coming up with perhaps the most creative (and facetious) name of all, “the embodiment of the Jewish people which brings together both Maimonides and Herzl into one unified deluxe Jewish person.”

Wow! Out of petty name-calling, we now all have something to aspire to.

In the end, Oren backpedaled on his incendiary treatment of Wieseltier, telling Jeffrey Goldberg, “I’m Leon’s buddy, why would I want to hurt Leon? And I write about him lovingly in the book.”

Who knew so many serious, high-minded men could be so emotional? Over name-calling! But rather than call this fracas uncharacteristic, or uncivil, or dare-I-say a little bit juvenile, I’m going to chalk it up to the Jewish penchant for ascribing meaning to names. We’ve all been called them, good or bad, and even the ugly ones tell us something about who we are or who we don’t wish to be.

In her famous window-side soliloquy, the young ingénue Juliet fears the revelation of her name will preclude Romeo from loving her. So she devises a scheme: A name is just a title, she decides, something to flick off or cast away, leaving her and her beloved to embrace their core, indescribable selves. Why should a name hinder true love?

And why should an insult break up the tribe?

“People,” Wieseltier told Moment, “have got to recover the pleasures of being insulted. Having your feelings wounded is the price you pay for living in an open society.”

So maybe names are no big deal. Maybe they mean nothing until we make ourselves worthy of them.

‘And they weren’t even Jewish’: Thoughts on the Kansas JCC shooting


Federal law enforcement got it right when they announced they would prosecute Frazier Glenn Miller under the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA). Miller, the suspect who was arrested in connection with the April 13 shootings at a Jewish community center and a Jewish assisted-living facility in Overland Park, Kansas, is a self-proclaimed anti-Semite and white supremacist.  It is likely, based on the facts as reported in the media, that he went to both facilities with the intent to kill Jews. The fact that the three murder victims were not Jewish does not make this crime any less heinous, nor does it eliminate the possibility of a hate crime prosecution.   

And yet how many of us heard someone say, “And they weren’t even Jewish,” after news about the victims emerged?   

When the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) drafted its first hate-crime law more than 30 years ago, the point was to recognize that hate crimes are different from other crimes and warrant tougher sentences. Furthermore, in cases like this one, where there can be little doubt that Miller targeted his victims because he perceived them to be Jewish, hate-crime laws can and should be applied, even if the victims are not members of the group targeted.Why should the penalty be greater when someone commits a hate crime? These crimes have an emotional and psychological impact that is distinct from many other types of crime. In committing these crimes, perpetrators are sending a message to an entire community that says, “You are not safe; you are not protected.” This, in turn, makes members of the targeted communities fearful, angry and suspicious of other groups — and of the power structure that is supposed to protect them — which can damage the fabric of our society and fragment communities. 

It is also important to understand that the emphasis of the hate-crime laws is on the perpetrator’s perception of the victim’s status; the actual identity of the victim of a hate crime is wholly irrelevant. Take, for example, the tragedy of the Sikh man murdered in Arizona in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The gunman wanted to “kill a Muslim” in retaliation for the attacks, and shot and killed Balbir Singh Sodhi.  Sodhi was targeted at his workplace because he wore a beard and a turban in accordance with his Sikh faith. The gunman selected Sodhi because he perceived Sodhi to be Muslim, and he was convicted of first-degree murder with a hate-crime enhancement. Sodhi’s actual identity as a Sikh did not have any bearing on the case. 

Hate-crime statutes don’t create new crimes; there still has to be an underlying crime. Hate-crime statutes simply allow prosecutors to seek greater penalties if they can show the crime was motivated by bias against an actual or perceived protected class. This has been the ADL’s approach, and we are proud that 45 states and the District of Columbia have now enacted hate-crime laws based on or similar to the ADL model.

Prosecuting bias-motivated crimes under the hate-crime laws sends a message of reassurance to the targeted community, and that message is especially important in the aftermath of a crime that has been covered so extensively in the media. 

That may, in fact, be one of the reasons that federal authorities plan to use the HCPA.  In homicide cases like this one — unlike nonlethal crimes such as gay-bashing, a racially motivated mugging or a cemetery desecration — adding a hate-crime enhancement to the prosecution may not functionally increase the punishment meted out. But classifying the crime as a hate crime and prosecuting it under hate-crime laws underscores the message that bias-motivated violence is unacceptable. That message is critical, which is why the ADL routinely reaches out to government officials to seek statements denouncing such crimes. We are gratified by the reactions of our political leaders this month, including President Barack Obama and many other federal, state and local officials. 

In Kansas, the suspect had a prior affiliation with white supremacist ideology. He allegedly asked people if they were Jewish at the scenes of the crimes, was reported to have yelled “Heil Hitler” upon his arrest, and clearly targeted two Jewish community institutions. The fact that the victims of this unspeakable and heinous act of violence did not turn out to be Jewish is irrelevant. He should be prosecuted under hate-crime laws because it’s the clearest way to send a message back to the criminal and to others similarly inclined that says, “We stand with the community you targeted; it is you we will not tolerate.”


Amanda Susskind is the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Southwest Region.

The quenelle: Et tu, Asterix?


Louis Farrakhan, watch out. Your slot on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of top 10 anti-Semites may soon go to an ancient fat man from Gaul and his short, blond friend.

The challengers are Obelix and Asterix, two characters from a popular French comic book series that offers a humorous depiction of first century French rural life.

Earlier this week, an image of the two superheroes —  or rather, two men wearing giant suits depicting them — was published in the online edition of L’express daily. In it, the two men were seen performing the quenelle, the quasi-Nazi salute which is sweeping France. The image was taken at the Asterix theme park near Paris and went viral after being uploaded to Facebook.

The quenelle — the name for a gesture in which one places an outstretched left palm on the right shoulder — was invented by the anti-Semitic comedian Diedonne M’bala M’bala to both mock and circumvent France’s laws against displaying Nazi symbols by offering a subtler, non-prosecutable version.

Although it represents a new peak of absurdity, the Asterix/Obelix picture fits in with the quenelle spirit, which ridicules France’s restrictive laws on the promotion of the anti-Semitic hatred and other forms of racism.

As the gesture’s popularity soared in recent months, some have taken to being photographed while performing the quenelle next to pineapples — a reference to an earlier invention by Dieudonne which combines the Hebrew word for Holocaust with the French word for pineapple, a coinage understood to cast doubt on the Holocaust without breaking the law prohibiting Holocaust denial.

But the gesture’s growing popularity has also generated growing opposition. Earlier this week, six French Jews were arrested in Lyon on suspicion that they assaulted a man they had allegedly tracked on Facebook for posing while performing the quenelle.

Heeding calls by representatives of French Jewish communities, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced Friday the government was looking into banning all public performances of Dieudonne. The theme park offered its apologies and claimed the actors were not familiar with the dark origins of the gesture, the park’s spokesperson said in a statement to L’express.

“Asterix and Obelix will remain apolitical,” the spokesperson promised.

Braun said specimen collector was anti-Semite to drum up support in ’12


Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun during his appeal of a drug suspension in 2012 told players on opposing teams that the collector of his urine sample was an anti-Semite.

Braun, the son of an Israeli-born Jewish father, was suspended in July for the remainder of this season for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement for his connection to the Biogenesis clinic, which provided performance-enhancing drugs to more than a dozen players.

The 2011 Most Valuable Player had been suspended in 2012 for using performance-enhancing drugs, but successfully appealed the 50-game ban and denied he ever used PEDs.

Braun called at least three veteran players to lobby for their support ahead of his appeal of the 2012 suspension, ESPN reported.

He won the appeal after proving that the specimen collector, identified as Dino Laurenzi Jr., broke the chain of custody of the sample by storing it in his refrigerator and not sending it out for 44 hours.

According to ESPN, Braun in  his calls to the players also said Laurenzi was a Chicago Cubs fan, a division rival of the Brewers, implying that the sample collector would be working against Braun.

Braun has been referred to as “The Hebrew Hammer.” His mother, Diane, a Catholic, has said, “He’s totally not Jewish.”

“I heard some organization started called him ‘The Hebrew Hammer.’ I said, ‘Oh no.’ My mother would be rolling over in her grave if she heard that.”

What if the Nazis had tweeted?


What could Goebbels have done with 140 characters?

The question, disturbing as it might sound, can no longer be approached only as theoretical.

As the arch-propagandist of Nazism, Joseph Goebbels spread the demonic messages of his Fuehrer via the written word, mass demonstrations, radio and film. He used those avenues to near perfection, promoting what perhaps was the most evil publicity campaign in the history of humankind.

Some eight decades later, the tools are different but the motivations are the same. In the place of vitriol-filled radio broadcasts and Berlin stadia filled to capacity with saluting Nazis, the resources employed today by bigots are increasingly the Internet and social media. Undoubtedly the #HeilHitler hashtag, if launched in 1933, would have had followers in the many millions, likely surpassing even the numbers of the most revered celebrities who employ resources like Twitter.

With all the tremendous good it does, and the hundreds of millions of people it entertains, inspires and educates daily, at its core the Internet is the most capable propaganda tool ever invented.

The online community is both largely uncensored and without any natural borders or limits — a combination that makes it so effective and so dangerous. With the same speed it takes to reach millions with videos of laughing babies or talented Korean dancers, hate-filled messages pour into the world’s social media feeds and email inboxes.

The reality in the online war against hate is that our enemies are smarter than any anti-Semitic forces we have ever seen. They understand the power of the Internet and embrace the protections under law it offers.

Today’s most effective anti-Semites are not the flag-waving, stormtrooping skinheads of yesteryear. While those forces still exist, their reach pales in comparison to the computer users able to spill their messages of hate to millions around the globe in a matter of minutes.

The peace-loving forces within the international community are therefore faced with a daunting challenge — yet it is not insurmountable.

First, we need to recognize the scope of the problem. Online hate is difficult to impossible to quantify. While perhaps we can try to count the number of problematic websites, there is no real way to know how many people those sites reach. All the more so with social media, where the trail of content can split into literally thousands of directions in minutes. The scope of the problem is unprecedented and enormous, and thus deserving of massive resources and international cooperation.

Second, and perhaps more fundamental, the world must change its mindset for what deserves protection within the online community.

Most often, when people speak about the Internet and the world of social media, terms bandied about are “marketplace of ideas” or “common ground for expression” or similar terminology professing that users should be allowed to disseminate whatever ideas come into their minds at a given time. This position is defended by those who advocate that freedom of expression should be interpreted literally to allow people to express whatever they feel, regardless of how inflammatory or incendiary it might be. This must be rethought.

Freedom of expression indeed means that people’s right to free speech and free speech can and must be protected. But the protection should never be extended to expressions that come at the physical expense of the other.

Without entering into legal discourse that is far too complex for this forum, there is no disputing that hate speech on the Internet and in social media has the very real potential to inspire acts of violence. This has been proven countless times since the advent of the Internet and is realized every day through the examples of young and impressionable people who turn to the web for inspiration for all sorts of devious ideologies and beliefs.

In order for the Internet to sustain its openness, all responsible parties must commit to guarding against the use of online hate mongering.

This new medium is so different from anything faced previously by the civilized world that it requires re-evaluated understandings of what is and is not acceptable. It will be a challenging process and requires an underlying commitment to protect the interests of all viewpoints, all the while rooting out those messages that cross the fine line between valid speech and toward dangerous incitement.

The success of this effort will require the participation and involvement of the relevant commercial players who allow the Internet to flourish along with national governments and international law enforcement. It will not be achieved overnight.

If the past has taught us anything, however, it is that the stakes are far too high to do nothing. This time the world must be sure to respond.


Gideon Behar is the director of the Department for Combatting Anti-Semitism of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the chair of the Global Forum for Combatting Anti-Semitism beginning May 28 in Jerusalem.

Dershowitz says reported contender for papacy is an anti-Semite


Alan Dershowitz wrote in a letter to the editor of the Miami Herald that one of the leading candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI is an anti-Semite.

Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor and Israel activist, was responding to a list published last week after the resignation of Benedict that identified Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras as a possible successor.

“He has blamed the Jews for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners!” Dershowitz wrote. “He has argued that the Jews got even with the Catholic Church for its anti-Israel positions by arranging for the media — which they, of course, control, he said — to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal. He then compared the Jewish-controlled media with Hitler because they are 'protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the church.' “

In a May 2002 interview with the Italian-Catholic publication 30 Giorni, Maradiaga claimed that Jews influenced the media to exploit the controversy regarding sexual abuse by Catholic priests in order to divert attention from the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

At the time, the Anti-Defamation League expressed public outrage at the cardinal's comments. In a later conversation with Abraham Foxman, ADL's national director, Maradiaga apologized and said he never meant for his remarks to be taken as perpetuating an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about Jewish control of the media and promised never to say it again.

“The Vatican has rightly called anti-Semitism a sin, and yet an unrepentant sinner is on the short list to become the leader of the Catholic Church,” Dershowitz insists in his letter to the editor. “If that were to occur, all of the good work by recent popes in building bridges between the Catholic Church and the Jews would be endangered. This should not be allowed to happen.”

Toulouse killer Mohammed Merah was raised to be anti-Semite, brother writes


Mohammed Merah was raised to be an anti-Semite long before he killed four Jews in Toulouse, Merah's brother wrote.

“My young brother was certainly a Salafist, but before he turned into one he grew up in this detestable atmosphere that accommodates anti-Semitism,” Abdelghani Merah reportedly wrote in a new book about his brother that is set to appear this week.

Mohammed Merah gunned down three children and a rabbi on March 19 at a Jewish school. Earlier in the same month he killed three French soldiers.

Merah was killed in a police raid on his home as he tried to jump out the bathroom window.

The Merahs grew up with a “cultural anti-Semitism” and “despised the Jews,” Abdelghani Merah wrote in his book, according to a report in the French magazine Le Point.

Souad and Kader Merah, two siblings of Mohammed and Abdelghani Merah, “hated the infidels and particularly the Jews, without any distinctions,” Abdelghani Merah reportedly wrote.

Merah and his brother spent their summer vacations in Algeria, their parents’ land of origin.

“The vast majority of our paternal family were supporters of FIs and GIA,” two militant Islamist groups, Abdelghani Merah wrote.

French rabbi receives threat to ‘punish’ Jews for complaining


The chief rabbi of Lyon,  Richard Wertenschlag, has received a letter threatening to “punish a Jew for every complaint the Jews make on TV.”

The threat came in a two-page letter delivered to Wertenschlag on Aug. 10. It contained two photos of a concentration camp, according to Dr. Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, CRIF.

Wertenschlag, who reported the letter to the authorities, opened the letter on Aug. 12, according to CRIF.

The authors of the “small, dense handwritten text” signed with the words “the righteous network.”

They added, “Every time you go on television to complain, a Jew – man, woman, child or family – will be punished.” Further down, the authors wrote: “See you soon at a synagogue, which has already been chosen.”

Wertenschlag called the letter “the expression of anti-Semitic rage and unimaginable hate.”

He said he had received an earlier hate letter in April, which was both “anti-Semitic and anti-Arab,” but decided not to go to police at the time.

Last month French police arrested two youths in Lyon for allegedly attacking a 17-year-old Jewish boy.

The boy is a student at Ozar Hatorah, a Jewish school in Toulouse where, on March 19, a Muslim extremist murdered three children and a rabbi.

Leader of anti-Semitic party in Hungary plans Auschwitz trip after learning he’s Jewish


Following recent revelations that he has Jewish ancestors, a far-right Hungarian politician reportedly will visit Auschwitz.

Rabbi Shlomo Koves told JTA that he had met with Csanad Szegedi, in Budapest on Aug. 3, and that the Jobbik Party member had said he would take the trip.

Szegedi apologized for any comments he had made against the Jewish community, according to the Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag. The paper also reported Szegedi is planning to set up his own political party.

Szegedi could not be reached for comment.

The Anti-Defamation League and other groups consider Jobbik an anti-Semitic party.

Szegedi wanted to go to Auschwitz—where he has said his grandmother had been imprisoned—to “pay his respects to the Holocaust martyrs,” Koves added.

Szegedi resigned most of his positions within Jobbik on July 28, although he remains a party representative at the European Parliament.

Jobbik officials said they asked for Szegedi’s resignation because in 2010 he allegedly had tried to bribe a person not to reveal his Jewish identity. Szegedi denies this.

Koves, executive rabbi of the Chabad-affiliated Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, said he was “stunned” when Szegedi asked to meet him. “As a rabbi, it is my duty to receive anybody requesting spiritual advice or seeking information about Judaism,” he added.

After the meeting, Koves said that both of Szegedi’s maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors who had an Orthodox Jewish wedding after the war.

“Afterwards they decided to keep it all a secret from their children and grandchildren. Their attempt was successful for over six decades and their descendants have just recently discovered their Jewish roots,” Koves told JTA.

Police look into anti-Semitic bullying incident in Northern Ireland


Police in Northern Ireland are investigating claims of anti-Semitic bullying of a boy with Asperger syndrome.

Matthew Lough, 14, told the BBC that he had been bullied at his County Antrim school since revealing during a class on the Holocaust that his great-grandmother was Jewish.

He said one boy was suspended after Lough was hit in the head and knocked to the ground. Police told the BBC on Thursday that they are investigating a March 14 assault.

Others, Lough and his mother told the BBC, have attached swastikas to his school bags and have taunted him with anti-Semitic epithets.

His mother, Sharon Lough, credited the school, Carrickfergus College, with taking swift action, but was concerned at the persistence of the anti-Semitism.

“He has been very unsettled at night-time, having nightmares,” she told the broadcaster. “I would never, ever tell my children not to mention their heritage, because they are so proud of it. I would never deny my Jewish heritage, never.”

Former Phoenix principal sues over gas chamber exhibit


A black Jewish woman is suing the Phoenix school where she formerly served as principal for failing to respond to complaints about a fake gas chamber set up outside her office and then firing her.

Millicent McNeil, who was fired from the Mission Charter School last May 13, filed a $2 million lawsuit in Maricopa County Court claiming that she was underpaid because of her race and religion, and that the school ignored her complaints about the gas chamber, which was part of a Holocaust exhibit, Courthouse News reported.

She alleges that teachers at the K-8 school, saying they were setting up a Holocaust exhibit, made her hallway and office door into an entrance to a faux gas chamber. McNeil says they painted a swastika on the wall outside her door, painted her door black and placed a photo next to the door of a lever that would activate a gas chamber.

McNeil also claims that the teachers wrote “Majdanek Bad Und Desinfektion,” or “Majdanek Bath And Disinfection,” above the door—imitating the sign for gas chambers at the Majdanek concentration camp—and the German word for “women” directly over the door.

Contacted by JTA, a school official had no comment on the case.

Opinion: Our golden calf


How would most American Jews react to the following historical assessment by a noted Yiddish scholar, professor Gennady Estraikh of New York University?

“It is hardly an overstatement to define Yiddish literature of the 1920s as the most pro-Soviet literature in the world.”

I assume that most would shrug it off as no big deal.

But is it no big deal? If a historian at New York University had written, “It is hardly an overstatement to define Catholic literature of the 1930s as the most pro-Nazi literature in the world,” how would Jews react?

We all know the answer. Jews and others would trumpet this as another example of the inherent bigotry and anti-Semitism of the Catholic Church.

But the fact that Jews were producing the most pro-Soviet literature in the world at the time that Lenin was creating the greatest totalitarian state, the least free country, indeed the largest prison in human history means nothing to most Jews.

The most pro-Soviet press in America and in Europe was Jewish. So was the leading Marxist/socialist in Germany during Germany’s short-lived Weimar democracy, Rosa Luxemburg; the Stalinist dictator of Hungary, known for his brutality, Matyas Rakosi; two of the three leaders of the Polish Communist Party at the end of World War II, Hilary Minc and Jakub Berman; the Communist dictator of Romania Ana Pauker; three of the five possible Bolshevik successors to Lenin: Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev; Howard Zinn, the radical historian who believed the world was worse because the United States existed; Noam Chomsky, who has devoted his life to undermining America and Israel; and so many more.

Leftism, not liberalism, has been the Jews’ golden calf — except that the calf never led to all the evil that leftism has. From Karl Marx, the grandson of two Orthodox rabbis, to the many Jewish professors who teach Western young people about American and Israeli perfidy, leftist Jews have a lot to atone for.

Leftism has so poisoned many Jews’ minds that it has otherwise decent Jews believing and saying terrible things.

Take, for example, the best-known American commentator on foreign affairs, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times. He recently wrote that the reason members of Congress gave standing ovations to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was that the ovation “was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

The charge that the support of all the congressmen and senators, Democrats and Republicans alike, can be bought and paid for by the Israel lobby is a classic anti-Semitic libel. Friedman’s left-wing defenders have written that Friedman never wrote “Jewish lobby,” but for nearly every person reading the term — not to mention all anti-Semites — “Israel lobby” means “Jewish lobby.”

The point here is that Friedman is an identifying Jew who has no interest in harming Israel. The only reason he would write something so profoundly helpful to anti-Semites and Israel-haters is that he is on the left.

It was leftism that that led another Jewish New York Times columnist, Frank Rich (now with New York Magazine), to belittle Kristallnacht, when he wrote that American Tea Partiers engaged in a “small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht.”

Kristallnacht, the “Night of the Broken Glass” of November 1938, is considered the opening act of the Holocaust. Why would a Jewish writer trivialize the Holocaust and cheapen Jewish suffering by likening Kristallnacht to Tea Party rallies? Because of his leftism.

A few years ago at UCLA, I debated a UCLA professor on the question: “Is there a moral difference between Israel and the Palestinians?” The professor argued that the two parties were morally equivalent; I argued that there was a huge moral gulf separating them. Who was this man? He was the head of the department of Jewish Studies. Another example of leftism perverting a Jew’s conscience.

And the former head of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, in a speech to the Islamic Society of North America, said, “Why should anyone criticize the voluntary act of a woman who chooses to wear a headscarf or a veil? Surely the choice these women make deserves our respect, not to mention the full protection of the law.” The rabbi’s commitment to left-wing multiculturalism was so strong, it led him to defend —even “respect” — the Muslim practice of covering women’s faces with a veil, one of the most dehumanizing behaviors to women practiced in the world today.

If we Jews are ever to be the “light unto the nations” we are called to be, we will first have to abandon the golden calf of leftism.  Among other reasons, it makes otherwise good people do and say bad things.


Dennis Prager’s nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) 9 a.m. to noon. His latest project is the Internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).

Galliano sentenced to suspended fine


A Paris court sentenced fashion designer John Galliano to a suspended fine and no jail time for making anti-Semitic and racist remarks to patrons at a local cafe.

Under Thursday’s sentence, Galliano must pay 6,000 Euro (about $8,500) if he offends again.

He had faced up to six months in prison and a fine of about $32,000 on charges of “public insults based on origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity.”

Galliano’s lawyers told CNN they were not surprised with the verdict.

In February, Galliano was videotaped making racist remarks at La Perle bar; a similar incident reportedly occurred in October.

After the video of Galliano surfaced showing him shouting “I love Hitler,” he was fired March 1 from his job as head designer at Christian Dior.

Actress Natalie Portman, a spokeswoman for Dior fragrances, criticized Galliano’s anti-Semitic comments, saying she was “deeply shocked and disgusted.”

Since being fired from Dior, Galliano has been in treatment for alcohol and prescription drug abuse, according to reports.

He has said he is not an anti-Semite and that he made his rants under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He also apologized for his statements.

The court awarded the plaintiffs a symbolic Euro each.

Letters to the Editor: Gibson Scale, Glenn Beck, Aaron Liberman and Latino-Jewish Coalition


Great Americans vs.‘Slimebags’

The best reasons that I read The Jewish Journal are because of great Americans like Dennis Prager and David Suissa. It is nauseating to see columns by leftist slimebags like Marty Kaplan and Rachel Roberts (the doctoral student — OMG) (“Muslim Criminals, Jewish Activists,” Feb. 18). Maybe the two of them can get together and hate Israel and America together!

Laurence Gelman
via e-mail


‘Gibson Scale’ Raises Ire

Mr. Eshman owes Glenn Beck an apology for falsely accusing him of being an anti-Semite (“The Gibson Scale,” March 11). Why? Because Beck dared to quote George Soros in his own words? Or, maybe, could it be that Eshman is parroting the left wing’s view of Fox News, thus libeling Glenn Beck in the process?

David Halpern
Los Angeles


When it comes to Glenn Beck, you are either ill informed or you have an agenda! Given your track record, I am going with a big ol’ agenda. I don’t care if you hate his politics, but have the decency to be honest about that and don’t call someone anti-Semitic because you don’t agree with him. I watch Fox News daily and have listened to Glenn Beck many times. Sometimes I agree with him and sometimes I don’t, but he is far from an anti-Semite — he is a huge supporter of Israel and of Jews! His criticism of George Soros pertains to [Soros’] politics and the means by which he uses his resources to push his political agenda — it is not about Soros being Jewish. Beck’s statement about Reform Jews was idiotic, but it was uneducated, which is not the same thing as anti-Semitism. Do you also believe anyone who criticizes the Koch brothers is religiously biased as well? Given your position of leadership in the Jewish community, don’t you feel an obligation to be truthful about such issues?

Debbie Swanson
Beverly Hills


While Rob Eshman’s points in his editorial were well taken, I suggest that it is insensitive and unnecessary to use derogatory terms such as “Crazy Town” and “nutter” to make his point.
It’s arguable that these callous and stereotypical references to a serious disability weaken credibility in a piece that’s aimed against stereotypes and discrimination.

There are many people of all cultures and beliefs who have struggled with their own or a beloved family member’s mental illness who do not find these glib references cute or amusing. 
This is the exact kind of publicly used terminology that alerts the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) StigmaBusters. This is ironic because NAMI is making the same efforts to defend the mentally ill against prejudice as Eshman is making for the Jewish people. 

The impact of an editorial can be very strong. A lot of damage can be done by insidious negative messages carried by the words that are used.
An apology would be very helpful here for what I’m sure was an unintentional maligning of another discriminated-against minority group.

Diane Rowe
Santa Monica

Rob Eshman would have us believe that he’s the perceptive “guard at the gate” when it comes to outing anti-Semitic public figures. He reveals significant blind spots however:

1) While many of us sensed that the WikiLeaks mastermind was a treasonous bad guy, Eshman several months ago was reveling in the courage of the WikiLeaks characters, while enjoying the embarrassment it caused to governments around the world. The fact that Assange is a rapist and a good old-fashioned anti-Semite should not have come as a surprise to him.

2) Eshman confuses criticism of George Soros and the Reform rabbinical establishment that falsely accused Beck of anti-Semitism as anti-Semitism itself, when it is normatively called “criticism.” Glen Beck himself has exposed anti-Semitism in the Muslim world and in the world of the far-left far more than any other figures in the media.

3) It is inconceivable that the newest inductee to the anti-Semitic hall of fame was carefully omitted Ron Schiller, the executive at NPR who met with a man posing as a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, assuring him that the Zionist (Jewish) influence was minimal. Could it be that the horrible realization that NPR, the bastion of liberal media considered “home” among liberal Jews, is as horrible and even more toxic than the ranting of Hollywood psychos Gibson and Sheen?

Richard Friedman
Los Angeles

You have proposed a Gibson Scale for rating anti-Semitism. I assume Gibson gets a rating of “one Gibson,” the lowest rating in your article, for his clearly anti-Semitic remarks while under the influence of alcohol. Some argue that alcohol caused him to make those remarks and therefore he is less culpable, but many others, myself included, believe alcohol merely allowed his true beliefs to be expressed by clouding his judgment of what should or shouldn’t be said to a police officer when you are a public figure.

The highest (7 Gibsons) rating was given to Glenn Beck. You cite two related examples of Beck’s anti-Semitism that earned him that high rating on the Gibson Scale. One was Beck’s “diatribes” against George Soros in recent months, and the other was when Beck “compared Reform Judaism to Radicalized Islam.” I disagree with Beck on both of these remarks but to call them anti-Semitic, let alone earning him the highest rating on the Gibson scale, is absurd.

Glenn Beck brought up Soros’ own account of his activities during WWII in Hungary when he avoided Nazi persecution by passing himself off as a Christian, accompanied a government official on his rounds to confiscate Jewish property, and, in a recent interview, denied feeling guilty about those actions.  Beck clearly meant to denigrate Soros’ integrity by bringing this up, and I disagree with his doing that because none of know how we would behave under similar circumstances, but how is that anti-Semitic?

He compared Reform Judaism to Radicalized Islam while he was commenting on the full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, taken out by a large number of Reform Rabbis, denouncing his comments about Soros. His actual comment when responding to that ad were something like Reform Judaism is more about politics than religious faith and the same is true of Radicalized Islam. Even ignoring the issue of terrorism I do not believe that is a fair comparison because while the majority of Reform Jews are politically liberal, Reform Judaism does not espouse a uniform political goal whereas Radicalized Islam does – namely the institution of a Muslim monotheistic government. Beck used an inaccurate analogy, and an obnoxious one because of the tactics used by Radicalized Islam, for which he later apologized. Beck may have a low opinion of Reform Judaism’s strength of faith, as do many Orthodox Jews, but this is not anti-Semitism.

It is obvious to me that in awarding Beck the highest rating on the Gibson anti-Semitism scale of anyone else mentioned in your article you were motivated more by Beck’s political beliefs than any hint of anti-Semitism. I beg you not to descend into the same foul intellectual territory into which many liberals have descended when they accuse anyone who criticizes the politics of President Obama of being a racist.

Steven Novom
Tarzana


J-Street Zionists?

My family and I once were dues-paying members of Rabbi Rosove’s religious Temple (“Why I Support J Street,” March 11). No more. While I respect the good rabbi in many aspects, his position on J Street has led me to wonder.

As a retired engineer who still is involved in consulting, serving on the board of an engineering society and editing an international engineering newsletter dealing with technical matters and challenging issues, I take issue with Rabbi Rosove’s basis for support of J Street, and have discussed the matter with him in the past. Like so many others who are blinded by ideological aspirations regarding Israel’s existence — and certainly mean well — he fails to face reality, fails to accept the facts that stare us in the face, and perhaps most importantly, fails to understand that the way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is by dealing with the root cause, not just the apparent symptoms.

As an accomplished engineer in my area of specialization, I look for facts — not rhetoric, not wishful ideological thinking. In this case, the facts were quickly spelled out for me by a Muslim friend (we sometimes play poker together) who at one time was in the diplomatic service of Jordan. I quote him more or less accurately: “From the time I started school, I was taught that the land where Israel exists is Arab land — all of it.” Interestingly, similar words were told to me by a Muslim woman audiologist several years earlier. The solution, then, to the conflict is not a matter of how much more Israel must give up to the Palestinians, but to stop the teaching of such ideas (brainwashing) to Arab/Muslim children.

But we need to go further. There is a problem here at home also — and likely throughout the country. I found that my granddaughter, in 8th grade here in the L.A. area, was being taught that the Jews “took away the homes of the Palestinians” when the state of Israel was established in 1948 — with no further meaningful elaboration. How many of these children will go on to college, bearing this image in their minds?

I checked the book from which they were being taught.  Everything was factual — but it omitted significant information that would have provided a more proper, and more honest viewpoint.

George Epstein
Los Angeles

While the articles and letters on J Street try to paint J Street as a mainstream organization, we can state they are primarily a leftist organization, and put up a thin veneer of Israel tolerance. You left out the divestment debate that J Street felt was appropriate to hold at their “Zionist” conference. As time goes on, and their Palestine pipedream isn’t realized, we will see them make the easy transition to join their leftist anti-Zionist comrades-at-arms.

S Z Newman
via e-mail


Heaps of Hoop Pride

What a feeling of Jewish pride to read about a young man named Aaron Liberman, who just happens to be an outstanding basketball player on an outstanding basketball team, Valley Torah! Did I really say that a school named Valley Torah has an outstanding basketball team (”Aaron Liberman: Finding balance between faith, basketball,” March 1)? I certainly did!!

Led by Aaron Liberman, Valley Torah went on to defeat Bishop Diego in the Southern Section 6AA championship game and won the Southern Section championship — the first ever for an Orthodox Jewish school. Aaron is not a one-man team; he has a lot of support from his brother Nathaniel, Yosef Grundman, Arynton Hardy, Nathaniel Cohen, et al!!

With all that being said, I close with “Go Get ’Em Valley Torah!!!”

Harvey M. Piccus
Tarzana


More Latino-Jewish Bridge-Building

Because “The New Power of a Latino-Jewish Coalition in L.A.” (March 11) is also blossoming in our synagogues, I was stymied by Jonah Lowenfeld’s observation that “it seems easier for these communities’ leaders to support one another’s unique political priorities than it is for them to identify the priorities that their communities share.” On the contrary, I have found that my work as a rabbi has yielded the exact opposite. Whether I am lunching with LAUSD teacher Orinio Opinaldo or convening with Yvonne Mariajimenez of Neighborhood Legal Services on stemming foreclosures in Los Angeles, one thing is clear: We do have common interests that are not hard to identify. Lowenfeld is right in saying, “Building relationships requires conversations like these.” But it is imperative that these conversations begin at the grass-roots level, not only on a leadership level. Temple Beth Am’s partnership with OneLA ensures that I, along with my congregants, nurture meaningful relationships with Latinos across Los Angeles on a weekly basis, beyond the periodic meetings of high-level leaders. And that is why a Westside rabbi continues to lunch with an East side elementary school teacher.

Susan Leider
Associate Rabbi
Temple Beth Am

Regarding your cover story on the Latino-Jewish Coalition in Los Angeles, please allow me to add one more vital component to this collaboration. In 2008, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was accompanied by city engineers (Carol Armstrong) and members of the Los Angeles Federation (Evan Kaizer) to sign a collaboration between the Yarkon River Authority and the Los Angeles River.

This historic event was the impetus for our school, Abraham Joshua Heschel, to officially adopt a section of the Los Angeles River where we will host the Yarkon River Kiosk, which includes informative signage honoring this collaboration between the two cities. We will also include interpretive signs in both Spanish and English to teach visitors about our shared cultural and ecological heritage of the river.

Within this year, under the auspices of The Trust for Public Land, our students will be planting native species to provide a park along the banks of the Los Angeles River for residents who live in low-income housing and whose children currently only have asphalt driveways for their recreational outlet. We are excited to have the opportunity to work alongside our neighbors and use the river as our conduit for this partnership.

Thank you for providing this important story in your March 11 edition.

Kathy Reynolds
Science Teacher
Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School
Northridge


Using Darfur for Own Purposes

David Suissa’s article on hypocrisy (“A UN Resolution Against Hypocrisy,” March 11) is a good example of its topic. People who are concerned about Darfur are concerned about Darfur. They would not utilize Darfur to accomplish another objective, in this case U.N.-bashing for reasons unrelated to Darfur. As long as the humanitarian crisis in Darfur can be of use to Suissa in this way, would he really want it to stop?

I should add in passing that the premise of the article, which is that the U.N. is unconcerned about Darfur and doing nothing about it, happens to be false.

Daniel O’Hearn
Claremont

This is the forth week (or the fifth) that David Suissa comes up with an article that shoots straight to the core of the issue (“A UN Resolution Against Hypocrisy,” March 11).

Some years back I was lucky enough to hear Bat Yeor talking about the EU. She called her speech “The Palestinization of the EU.” She gave it a new name, URABIA.

A few months later she might have called the U.N. UNRABIA as a result of the ongoing Palestinization of this organization that became a branch of the Arab League working on destroying Israel.

This is where the tragedy is. The U.N. is not defending and protecting all people but is working hard on killing a legitimate democracy, a member of the UN who, for some reason, became a beacon to refugees — real refugees — from Africa. No Arab country accepts them. Some actually shoot them.
Sadly, our representative is no friend of Israel, and while she vetoed the last try to demean Israel she added her own ugly words where she let the world know that she actually agrees with the idea of slapping Israel’s face.

In my opinion it is time to send the U.N. home. It does little good and it spends money on the wrong people in the wrong places — our money.

Batya Dagan
Los Angeles


Unions

In his letter to the editor, “Examining the Jewish Position on Unions” (March 11), Michael Rosenberg is correct to note that the vast majority of American workers “have fewer days off, pay more for their benefits, are paid less… [and] see their 401(k)s dwindling.” But he focuses his ire in the wrong direction.
The whole debate about the compensation of public servants – the teachers, firefighters, police, and office workers who make our society possible – misses the point. (In fact, Wisconsin public-sector employees make 4.8% less than their private-sector counterparts.) The questions we should ask ourselves are: Why is the middle class pitted against the middle class in a scramble to secure an ever-shrinking slice of the economic pie? And why is state after state – California included – in a headfirst race to dismantle the social safety net, erase pathways out of poverty, and shrink the middle class?

There was a time in America when business and government recognized that a strong middle class, created by good wages, fair benefits, and yes, collective bargaining, helps power our shared prosperity. As union membership began to shrink in the 1980s, so has the standing of the American middle class. Unions are human institutions, they are not perfect. But to blame them, and their members, for our economic ills is to create a diversion while the real antagonists slink out the back door.

Elissa Barrett
Executive Director, Progressive Jewish Alliance


Stop Glorifying All Acts of Terrorism

I am a peace activist with LA Jews for Peace, and I accept David Suissa’s challenge and am ready to sign his statement that condemns “glorification of terrorism and Jew-hatred that permeates their [Palestinian] society, and begin immediately to teach the benefits and compromises of peaceful co-existence” (“Behind the Itamar Murders,” March 13). In fact I go further than Suissa: I call for Israelis to stop glorification of terrorism such as the reverence paid to Baruch Goldstein who murdered 25 Palestinians at prayer in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in 1994. I call on Israelis to stop teaching hatred of Palestinians so that Israeli soldiers learn to treat Palestinians as human beings so they will no longer commit war crimes like the Goldstone Commission documented they did during the 2008-09 Gaza bombardment.

Finally, I call on Israeli leadership to teach the benefits and compromises of peaceful co-existence so they never again allow an opportunity for peace to pass them by as they did by ignoring the 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative and refusing to accept the compromises offered by Palestinian leadership as documented in the Palestine Papers.

Jeff Warner
Los Angeles


What About Libya?

As the turmoil in Libya continues week after week, The Journal has decided to show nothing of this on its cover — why? By contrast, when the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt erupted, with their still unpredictable outcomes, The Journal’s cover reflected these great changes. With in-depth articles inside. Then you veered sharply back to local issues for the past few weeks. Are you waiting to see how it all turns out in Libya? Are you undecided, like Obama? Have you received criticism over your focus on the turmoil in the Arab world? Do you think it won’t impact Israel? Or are you saving Gadhafi for your Purim cover? 

Happy Purim, to all of us.

Bob Kirk
Los Angeles


Eminent Domain in Transit Planning, Clarified

Perhaps Professor Reich was missing my point in regard to eminent domain (Letters, March 4). The point within the context of my Metro article (“Just What is Jewish Mass Transit?” Feb. 25) was “the end doesn’t always justify the means” and that eminent domain should not be used as a shortcut to blow off valid local concerns. Eminent domain should be a last resort and not a foregone conclusion. As Professor Reich points out, as a councilmember, I am clearly aware of the principles of eminent domain and am willing to use it in appropriate circumstances, generally as a last resort and if there are no other viable options. When it comes to placement of the Century City subway station, Santa Monica is clearly a viable option, even if politically powerful developers may have their own reasons for preferring something else.

Of course, eminent domain isn’t the only way to acquire property for park-and-rides. There are multiple possibilities and one of the options being discussed with Metro is an expansion of one of my City’s own parking facilities to accommodate Metro riders. While I do happen to have an inherent problem with bait-and-switch tactics and revisionist history per se, far from putting the brakes on an expansion of regional transport, I’m looking for ways to expand the utility of the subway to allow Westside residents to actually be able to take advantage of it. As it is currently planned, the extension is essentially a “one-way” subway to bring people into and out of the Westside with insufficient real access to the network for the actual residents of the region. Let’s not forget that a public transportation system is not just about ridership, it’s also about access. If we’re going to rethink the way we get from point A to point B, let’s both do it for the right reasons and do it right. 

As for the issue of eminent domain, the interesting and unanswered question in regard to the Century City alignment is whether, how and in what way one public agency (Metro) can exercise eminent domain (in the form of an easement) over another government entity (the School District). This is clearly not the same as a taking from a private individual or company and I’m not sure if there is “a long tradition in American constitutional law and urban planning” regarding this specific issue.

John Mirisch
via e-mail

‘Zorba’ composer declares himself an anti-Semite


Mikis Theodorakis, the Greek composer who wrote the music for the film “Zorba the Greek,” said in a television interview that he is an “anti-Semite and anti-Zionist.”

Theodorakis, 86, a hero in Greece, also said in the interview on Greece’s High channel that “everything that happens today in the world has to do with the Zionists.” He added that “American Jews are behind the world economic crisis that has hit Greece also.”

The composer, a member of the Greek Communist Party for 60 years, once was a supporter of Israel but gradually became a major critic. He has gone from criticizing Israel to making anti-Semitic remarks and holding anti-Semitic positions.

In 2003, Theodorakis declared that “Jews are at the root of all evil.” When the Greek Jewish community reacted strongly to his statement he apologized, but nothing really changed.

Oddly, during the television interview he said that “I’m an anti-Semite but I love Jews.”

Theodorakis criticized Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou for meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, who the composer says is a persona non-grata in Greece due to his “war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza.”

In the interview, Theodorakis had a warning for the Greek people.

“We are in danger. In a few days the Zionists will gather in Greece for a conference,” he said, referring to the visit by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which began Tuesday.

Kissinger: Gassing Jews would not be a U.S. problem


Henry Kissinger is heard saying on newly released Nixon tapes that the genocide of Soviet Jews would not be an American concern.

The tapes chronicle President Richard Nixon’s obsession with disparaging Jews and other minorities.

Kissinger’s remarks come after a meeting he and Nixon had with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir on March 1, 1973 in which Meir pleads for the United States to put pressure on the Soviet Union to release its Jews. Nixon and Kissinger, then the secretary of state, dismiss the plea after Meir leaves.

“The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy,” The New York Times on Saturday quotes Kissinger, as saying on the tapes. “And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.”

Nixon replies, “I know. We can’t blow up the world because of it.”

Six months later, during the Yom Kippur War, Nixon rejected Kissinger’s advice to delay an arms airlift to Israel as a means of setting the stage for an Egypt confident enough to pursue peace. Nixon, among other reasons, cited Israel’s urgent need.

The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants in a statement called for an apology from Kissinger, who is still consulted by Democratic and Republican administrations and by Congress on matters of state.

“Henry Kissinger’s comments are morally grotesque and represent a disgraceful perversion of American values,” said the statement. “He owes an apology to all victims of the Nazi Holocaust.”

Nixon secretly recorded his White House conversations. After this was revealed during congressional investigations, the tapes became government property and have been released over the years in intervals.

Elsewhere on the batch of tapes recently released by the Nixon Library, the late president repeats many of the ethnic and racial slurs that had appeared on earlier such releases: Irish are “mean” drunks, he says; Italians “don’t have their heads screwed on tight”; Jews are “aggressive, abrasive and obnoxious”; and it would take blacks “500 years” to catch up with whites.

‘Kill Jews’ notes author charged with hate crime


A former Brooklyn car service driver accused of leaving notes reading ‘Kill Jews’ around New York’s Long Island was arraigned on a hate crimes charge.

Demetrios Apolonide, the driver for XYZ Car Service who was arraigned Wednesday for aggravated harassment, allegedly dropped the notes, written on torn pieces of the company’s vouchers, in the communities where he dropped off his fares, according to reports. He dropped the notes at least nine different times between September 2009 and March 2010.

Apolonide, 37, was arrested last summer in New York City on similar charges.

He told authorities he scattered the notes in order for “the Jews to find them to think it was the Muslims,” police officials said Wednesday according to Newsday.

New Mumbai Chabad house to memorialize Holtzbergs


Tentative plans for a new Chabad House in Mumbai feature a memorial to the emissary couple slain in the 2008 attacks in the Indian city.

The plans for the new Nariman House, on the site of the previous Chabad House, are pending consultations with security experts, according to an announcement Tuesday by the Chabad organization.

For security reasons, the Chabad House in Mumbai has been operating since the attacks from an undisclosed location under the direction of the new permanent Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries there, Rabbi Chanoch and Leah Gechtman.

Under the new plan, the fifth floor will have a memorial to the slain Chabad House directors, Rabbi Gabriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, in what was their personal residence.

The Holtzbergs were killed in the center along with four visitors in the November 2008 attacks on several Mumbai sites, including luxury hotels, a train station and a popular cafe. More than 170 people were killed in the attacks.

“The terrorists may have murdered Gabi and Rivky, but they will not be able to end their work or their legacy — we won’t allow it,” said Chabad Rabbi Yosef Kantor, the Chabad official responsible for the rebuilding effort in Mumbai. “That’s why we are currently putting together the plan for this Chabad House, which includes making sure that when their son, Moshe, comes of age, this place will be here for him should he wish to follow in the footsteps of his parents.”

Moshe, then 2, was taken out of the house by his Indian nanny. Both are now living in Israel.

The fourth floor of the new Nariman House will contain a memorial to victims of terror.

Its first floor will feature a kosher kitchen for preparing food for tourists and for delivery to local needy people. The second floor will contain a synagogue for prayer and study; the third floor will serve as space for Chabad functions.

Bombing Suspect Ahmad Vahidi overwhelmingly chosen to be Iran’s defense minister [VIDEO]


From BBCNews.com.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chose Ahmad Vahidi, wanted by Argentina over the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre, as his new defence minister.

Mr Vahidi was strongly supported by Iran’s parliament, the Majlis, with 227 MPs backing him out of 286, Iranian Speaker Ali Larijani said.

Read the full story at BBCNews.com.

 

Let Wagner Be Heard?


Why is it I simply cannot condone the presentation and celebration of Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” in Los Angeles, arriving with much fanfare this coming spring?

Because Richard Wagner was an extraordinary musician, and an even more extraordinary anti-Semite. Open his own writings: “Religion and Art” (1881) and his essay, “Judaism in Music” (1850). Wagner warns his readers of the “be-Jewing” of modern art and the “Judaic-infected corruption of the cosmopolitan idea.” Jewish music, Wagner argues, is a racial matter that threatens the “purity of German folk culture.” As an artist, Wagner insists that the Jew has never had an art of his own, and to the cultured, the music Jews create is “outlandish, odd, indifferent, cold, unnatural and awry.” The Jewish pathetic attempts at making art are “trivial and absurd,” because of the Jewish “incapacity for life.” 

Such so-called musical “geniuses” as Giacomo Meyerbeer and the Jewish converts to Christianity Felix Mendelssohn and Heinrich Heine are not, and cannot be, truly creative, wrote Wagner. Whether the Jew is converted or not, nothing can overcome his artistic inferiority. Baptism cannot wash away the traces of his origin. “The Jew is innately incapable of announcing himself to us artistically.” 

Richard Wagner concluded his essay on “Judaism in Music” with these ominous words: “But bethink ye, that one only thing can redeem you from the burden of your curse: the redemption of Ahaseurus — destruction.” Wagner advocated the Untergang, the destruction, extinction and downfall of all Jews.

We are dealing with no drawing-room anti-Semite. Here’s a mentality that confesses the “rooted dislike of the Jewish nature.” More than dislike. Wagner declared openly and repetitively, “I regard the Jewish race as the born enemy of pure humanity and all that is noble in man…. I may well be the last remaining German who, as an artist, has known how to hold his ground in the face of a Judaism which is now all powerful.” He was not the “last.” The dirge cast its deathly shadow over the face of Europe. 

Wagner was no coincidental anti-Semite. He personally and actively orchestrated a circle of racist colleagues, among whom was his son-in-law, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, the most influential exponent of racial anti-Semitism in the 19th century. It was Chamberlain who became a venomous disciple of Wagner’s Aryanism.  It was Wagner’s passionate hatred of Jews that provoked the German philosopher Eugene Dühring to declare that the answer to the Jewish question should be solved by “killing and extirpation.” 

Wagner deplored granting civil rights in 1871 to Jews and applauded political anti-Semitism. Wagner’s writings had great ideological influence on Adolph Hitler, who had Wagner’s operas performed at Bayreuth in connection with Nazi party conventions. 

In his own words, Wagner opened the eyes of people to their “involuntary feeling and instinctive repugnance against the Jewish primal essence.” It is noteworthy that the title Wagner chose for his essay is “Judaism in Music,” not “Jews in Music.” His diatribe cuts deep.

Still, biography is not musicology. Can an ugly anti-Semite not create a song of beauty? After all, opera is opera and philosophy is philosophy. What has one to do with the other?

I am anguished. I would hear, but my mind and heart cannot segregate the lyric from the song. We are being asked to disassociate, to listen to the art and pretend deafness to the artist’s demonizing of Jews and his evisceration of Jewish culture and talent. 

I admit my bias, my inability to engage in such schismatic play. The issue is not a matter of aesthetics or of culture. It is a matter of self-respect and respect for this great city that justly prides itself on its unity and diversity. To celebrate or commemorate anyone who relentlessly sought the downfall (untergang) of my people or any other people breaks the limits of tolerance. To detach emotionally and morally the life of the composition from the life of the composer tears apart the wholeness of memory. To offer earthly immortality to the designer of destruction of a people’s race, religion or dreams mocks the integrity and the pride of community. To attend or not, in either case, attention must be paid.

In this era of racial and ethnic tension, we need now, more than ever, gestures, projects and programs that bind us together. By all means, let him be heard. And by all means, let him be read. The artist is no disembodied spirit. See him whole. 

And let us discern.

Harold Schulweis is rabbi at Congregation Valley Beth Shalom in Encino and founder of Jewish World Watch. He is the author of many books, including “For Those Who Can’t Believe” (Harper Perennial, 1995), “Finding Each Other in Judaism” (UAHC Press, 2001) and “Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey” (Jewish Lights, 2008).

Diplomats Make End Run With Early Ratification of Final Durban Document


GENEVA (JTA)—Durban II reached its conclusion, it seemed, three days early.

A day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tirade against Israel triggered a walkout by the European delegation and generated headlines around the world, diplomats at the U.N. forum scrambled to ratify the conference’s final document on Tuesday—three days before the parley’s close, when the document was scheduled to be adopted.

It was not immediately clear whether the move was meant to head off further debate over the text or to prevent additional walkouts by delegations in protest.

The document ratified by delegates includes the item that prompted Israel and half a dozen other countries to boycott the conference: reaffirmation of the 2001 Durban document, which singles out Israel, brands it a racist country and cites the Palestinians as victims of racism.

“Clearly they were panicking and had to get a quick victory before the text could spiral even further out of control,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, said of the delegates’ vote. “Of course, the text is unacceptable because it still ratifies the flawed 2001 text.”

Despite the document’s early ratification, the very public walkout by EU delegates during Ahmadinejad’s speech and the events surrounding the conference guaranteed that Durban II would not be a reprise of the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Pro-Palestinian elements hijacked the original event in Durban, South Africa, and turned it into an anti-Israel free-for-all.

Geneva has had some similarities with Durban.

In 2001, the conference provided a platform for a polarizing leader from the developing world to rebuke Western nations: Cuba’s Fidel Castro, who was greeted enthusiastically by thousands of activists at the NGO Forum that preceded the conference. This time it was Ahmadinejad, the only head of state to address the conference, who called Israel a “racist government.”

But whereas the Durban conference was chaotic, noisy advocacy in Geneva was banned from U.N. grounds and activists were restricted to a few minutes per day to address its follow-up.

And whereas critics of Israel in 2001 went largely unanswered or drowned out pro-Israel voices, Ahmadinejad’s speech was met by denunciations in the media, including a rare rebuke by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. And after Ahmadinejad relinquished the podium, the very next speaker, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, called the Iranian president’s speech “incitement to hatred, spreading politics of fear and promoting an indiscriminate message of intolerance.”

For their part, pro-Israel protesters went on the offensive, interrupting Ahmadinejad’s speech and providing context to the Israel-focused tone of the conference with their own news conferences, demonstrations and Holocaust commemorations—the conference coincided with Yom Hashoah—in Geneva and beyond.

While the singling-out of Israel surprised delegates at the 2001 conference, Israel’s allies worked hard in the months leading up to Geneva to ensure it did not devolve into a repeat of Durban.

To some extent, then, the document’s early adoption Tuesday could be considered a defeat.

The document had been the center of diplomatic activity in the weeks leading up to the conference in Geneva, which was supposed to evaluate progress toward the goals set by the 2001 event.

Diplomats worked late last Friday to hammer out details of the final draft of the document, in part to avoid threats of boycott by countries concerned about its implicit branding of Israel as a racist state. In the end, the changes were insufficient to satisfy concerns by the United States, Australia, Germany and a few other countries, which announced they would not attend the conference. Most European countries, however, did not pull out.

In theory, the document could have been debated and changed at the conference itself, for better or for worse. Indeed, the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference called for “open discussion on all issues” at the conference. But any such possibility ended when the draft document was ratified Tuesday with no additional changes.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told reporters the original scheduled adoption date of April 24 was “just in case the main committee needed that much time—just in case various debates reopened or questions were raised.”

“None of that happened,” she said.

Pillay called the document’s early adoption “great news,” saying it “reinvigorates the commitment” of states to combat racism and “highlights the suffering of many groups.”

B’nai B’rith denounced the document’s ratification, calling it “flawed and offensive” and blaming Libya for engineering its early and swift passage.

“We condemn this rubber stamp document in the strongest terms possible,” Richard Heideman, the head of the B’nai B’rith Delegation in Geneva, said. “The adoption of this document shows nothing has changed since 2001, no lessons have been learned.”

Though the document was adopted by consensus, it was tainted by the boycott of 10 nations, including the Czech Republic, whose delegates walked out in protest during Ahmadinejad’s speech and never returned to the conference. Along with the United States, Australia and Germany, the other boycotting countries included Canada, New Zealand, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland.

The extent of the boycott was cheered by Jewish and pro-Israel groups, which sought to discredit the Geneva proceedings.

After Monday’s theatrics and Tuesday’s ratification, the remainder of the conference was expected to be taken up by NGO activists criticizing the deprivation of human rights for various peoples, including the Palestinians.

Ahmadinejad: The next Hitler?


From 1939 to 1945, during the Holocaust, 6 million Jews died atrocious deaths throughout Europe at the hands of Adolf Hitler.

On Aug. 6, 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assumed office as president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a rise that could provoke the beginning of the next Holocaust or World War.

Ahmadinejad, 50, has been a very outspoken and controversial character since he stepped into office. Not only is this man an anti-Semite, but he’s also drawn the attention of the international community as an imminent threat to the entire globe.

He has clearly established a blatant opposition to the Jewish people as a whole, as well as other faiths different from his own Shi’a Islam. Throughout his term, he has repeatedly quoted the deceased mullah, Ayatollah Khomeni, by saying that Israel should be “wiped off the map.” Recently, Ahmadinejad held a “Holocaust Summit” in which he denied the Holocaust, calling it a “myth.”

The honorary guests included David Duke, grand wizard of Klu Klux Klan in the 1970s, who spoke to the summit, saying, “The Holocaust is the device used as the pillar of Zionist imperialism, Zionist aggression, Zionist terror and Zionist murder.”

However, Ahmadinejad’s hatred isn’t limited to the Jewish community. Recently, he called for a census of every single follower of the Bahai’ faith for “confidential reasons.” Thousands of non-Muslims are being persecuted every day in Iran by his actions — Ahmadinejad is the one provoking it.

Hateful remarks and threats may be legally permitted, but the development of uranium and other dangerous products that may contribute to the construction of weapons of mass destruction certainly is not. Despite numerous demands from the United Nations, Europe and the United States, Iran has refused to cease producing these radiological compounds, citing that they are being developed purely for internal nuclear growth and research.

Currently, Iranian scientists are feverishly producing copious amounts of potentially deadly nuclear compounds, which eventually may be used on Israel or possibly the United States.

“The combination of a regime with a radical agenda, together with a distorted sense of reality, put together with nuclear weapons, is a dangerous combination that no one in the international community can accept,” says Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry.

Some might argue that though Ahmadinejad may appear to be a threat to the world, he is serving and providing for his own country and people. But the scores of protests against Ahmadinejad by college students in Tehran over the past couple of months prove otherwise.

In fact, when he first stepped into office, dozens of activists shouted abusive slogans and set off firecrackers as Ahmadinejad addressed students at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University. Furthermore, students recently disrupted a speech by Ahmadinejad at the Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran. According to the Iranian Student News Agency, the students set fire to photographs of Ahmadinejad and threw firecrackers. The protesters also chanted “Death to the dictator.”

The only reasonable, rational or even ethical thing to do is to dismantle the current Iranian regime and throw Ahmadinejad out of power. This is obviously not an easy task.

Therefore, the Jewish community as a whole, teens and adults, should take an affirmative stance against Ahmadinejad, by being the first ones to initiate or attempt to initiate some sort of change, whether large or small.

We can all use editorial articles, peaceful and effective protests, and especially our voices to raise awareness against Ahmadinejad and his terror.

Jewish politicians, rabbinical and social leaders must step up and attempt to make a change themselves or address the present situation in Iran to those who can make a change.

Not only is Ahmadinejad’s regime currently persecuting the Iranian Jewish community in Iran, but if nothing is done, the global Jewish community may once again face another Hitler equipped with powerful nuclear technology, brutality, and worst of all, complete and utter hatred against Jews. Our eyes were shut more than 60 years ago when millions died; let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Joshua Yasmeh is a sophomore at El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills.

Speak Up!

Tribe, by and for teens, appears the first issue of every month in The Jewish Journal. Ninth- to 12th-graders are invited to submit first-person columns, feature articles or news stories of up to 800 words. Deadline for the March issue is Feb. 15; Deadline for the April issue is March 15. Send submissions to julief@jewishjournal.com.

If Borat has offended … then he’s done his job


Virtually everyone who has already seen the comedy “Borat” at film festivals and invitational screenings has found the film uproariously funny.

But with its nationwide opening set for Friday, the question now is whether a mass, mainstream audience will also get the film’s satiric sensibilities, or, rather, be offended by its political incorrectness and by its lead character, who is a raging anti-Semite.

“Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” is a “mockumentary” starring British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat Sagdiyev, a cheerfully impudent, male-chauvinistic Kazakh journalist. He road-trips across America, speaking comically mangled English and constantly doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. His interactions mostly are with unwitting, everyday Americans who have been led to believe by filmmakers that Cohen’s alter ego, Borat, is the real thing.

The humor in the film, which is directed by Larry Charles, is sometimes raunchy, especially a nude wrestling match between Borat and his heavyset producer, Azamat Bagatov (Kenny Davitian). And it is sometimes bitingly politically satirical — “We support your war of terror,” Borat tells a rodeo crowd before massacring “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Borat fears Jews so much he has nightmarish hallucinations when forced to board with an elderly Jewish couple. He and his producer also choose to drive across America because they’re scared Jews would hijack their plane, “like they did on 9/11.”

Cohen, 35, is a modern-day Ernie Kovacs in his ability to subsume his personality in his comic creations. He is best known in the U.S. for playing the gay French NASCAR driver Jean Girard in “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” But in Britain he became a star as the obnoxiously slow-witted rapper/talk-show host Ali G, which acquired a cult U.S. following when HBO’s “Da Ali G Show” was broadcast in 2003. Borat was a character on that show.

Because “Borat’s” anti-Semitism is so flagrant, the film raises some ethical questions. Is Cohen, who is Jewish and studied history at Christ’s College at Cambridge, crossing a line with his character’s anti-Semitism? And is his rendering of the central Asian nation of Kazakhstan as a stewpot of anti-Semites, child abusers, prostitutes and generally crude people too cruel?

According to answers.com, Cohen was born in the London-adjacent suburb Staines to a middle-class Jewish family — his father, originally from Wales, was the owner of a London menswear shop. Cohen has what the site calls an “active Zionist background,” including involvement in the Jewish youth movement Habonim Dror. His mother is an Israeli-born Iranian, and, according to answers.com, he told NPR in a 2004 interview that he wrote his college thesis on Jewish involvement in the American civil rights movement.

Borat’s anti-Semitism has folkloric, fantastical roots in his nation’s culture, as depicted in the film. It envisions, for instance, a “traditional” Kazakh “Running of the Jew” event, similar to Pamplona’s “running of the bulls.” And the Kazakhs are portrayed as simple, backward peasants — Borat mistakes a hotel elevator for his room in New York and carries a chicken onto the subway.

“I saw the movie yesterday,” said Roman Y. Vassilenko, an ambassadorial assistant and press secretary for Kazakhstan’s U.S. embassy, when interviewed last week. “Like Jonathan Swift wrote ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and invented a country, Lilliput, to make a satire of England, this is the same thing. He invents a Kazakhstan in order to make a satire of a very different country.”

Just to make sure the public realizes that “Borat’s” Kazakhstan is not the real one, the embassy has released an official statement on the movie. It reads in part: “Kazakhstan, a Muslim majority country, is home to 130 ethnic groups and 40 religious faiths. Pope John Paul II, who visited Kazakhstan in 2001, called our country ‘an example of harmony between men and women of different origins and beliefs.'” (The nation has a sizeable Russian Orthodox minority.)

Cohen himself isn’t talking. Or, rather, he’s talking only in character. Two weeks ago, he came to Santa Monica’s Shutters on the Beach resort hotel for a “Borat” press conference, standing at a podium with an official-looking Kazakhstan emblem on it. Tall and dressed in a neat if staid suit, bearing a bright smile to contrast with his dark bushy brows and hair, he did what amounted to a comedy act. Questions had to be submitted in advance.

“Good evening, gentleman and prostitutes,” he began, in halting, bumbling, heavily accented English. He said he admired “mighty warlord George Walter Bush” as a “very strong man but perhaps not as strong as his father, Barbara.”

Asked whom he’d most like to meet, he mentioned “fearless anti-Jew warrior Melvin Gibsons. We in Kazakhstan agree with his statement Jews started all the wars. We also have evidence they killed off the dinosaurs. Hurricane Katrina, too. They did it.”

Cohen’s satiric target may well be America and its anti-Semitism, believes Joel Schalit, managing editor of the liberal Jewish magazine Tikkun. And in “Borat,” he may be drawing from world history to get at it.

“I see a film like ‘Borat’ as a very roundabout, tongue-in-cheek way of exploring that,” Schalit said.

A parallel can be drawn between Cohen’s imaginary Kazakhstan and the early 20th-century Russian peasants who accepted the fraudulent, anti-Semitic “Protocols of Zion” (which told of a Jewish plot to run the world) as truth and staged pogroms. (Kazakhstan, formerly a part of the Soviet Union, gained its independence in 1991.)

“By evoking that example, Cohen’s timing couldn’t be better,” Schalit said. “There remains a populist strand of anti-Semitism in the U.S. that is the parallel of pre-Bolshevik Russian anti-Semitism. And it’s emanating from the quarters of the religious right.”

Josh Neuman, editor of edgy, youthful Jewish humor magazine Heeb, thinks American Jews will get Cohen’s “Borat” and not be offended.

“I think Jews understand the power of satirical narratives, because we understand the power of narratives in general,” he said via e-mail. “[There’s] a desire to poeticize the absurdity of stereotypes rather than arguing against them. I think the former is much more effective than the latter.”

And, Neuman said, Cohen also has another target.

I think [he] is satirizing how mainstream anti-Semitism is around the world, but also and perhaps more importantly I think he’s satirizing a Western bourgeois notion of people from distant lands, their customs and beliefs. I think that he pulls it off with immense subtlety and creativity.”

“Borat” plays in theaters starting Nov. 3.

Maher Hathout — partner for peace or anti-Semite in centrist clothing?


To progressive Jews, he is a partner for peace and a moderate Muslim in a world darkened by Islamic extremism. To conservative Jews, he is a strident anti-Israel critic, perhaps even a closet anti-Semite, masquerading as a centrist.
 

Dr. Maher Hathout, like no other local Muslim leader in recent memory, has divided the Jewish community, exposing fissures between Jews who fervently believe in reviving the frayed Jewish-Muslim dialogue and those who have lost faith.

 
The chairman of the Islamic Center of Southern California and senior adviser to the national Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Hathout became a lightening rod for criticism soon after the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission tapped him in July for the prestigious John Allen Buggs Award for excellence in human relations, which he is slated to receive next month.

 
Following the announcement, terrorism expert Steven Emerson penned an article published in New Republic Online depicting the Egyptian-born cardiologist, who immigrated to the United States in 1971 and is a U.S. citizen, as an apologist for terror groups and a strident critic of the Jewish state. In his piece, Emerson points to Hathout’s past attacks on Israel, including publicly characterizing the country as “a racist, apartheid” state, as his accusation that “the United States is also under Israeli occupation.”

 
These remarks, which Hathout says were made in the context of criticizing the Israeli government, Emerson argues are actually code words for anti-Semitism, and should disqualify Hathout from receiving an award established to promote positive race and human relations in multicultural Los Angeles County.

 
Hathout, in an interview with The Jewish Journal, said he has no intention of withdrawing. To do so, he said, would reward the forces of intolerance and intimidation.

 
At a Sept. 11 commission meeting convened to allow for public comment about the proposed award, Hathout said that “probably my words were harsh” at times, but that he stands by his statements. Hathout said he had no problem with the Israeli people but only with their government. He has helped to organize interfaith services and has traveled to Israel on joint missions in the past.

 
After the publication of Emerson’s article, three major Jewish groups, the American Jewish Committee, the Zionist Organization of America and StandWithUs, criticized Hathout and questioned the commission’s decision to honor him. On Sept. 11, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles joined the trio.

 
Hathout’s “words regrettably create the very fissures and divides that the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission is seeking to repair,” Los Angeles Federation President John Fishel said in a speech before the commission meeting.
Rabbi John Borak, director of inter-religious affairs at the L.A. chapter of the American Jewish Committee said that the fact that someone with Hathout’s opinions is considered a moderate Muslim shows why Muslim-Jewish dialogue has faltered in recent years.

 
“The Muslim community doesn’t have honest brokers,” Borak said in an interview before the meeting on Monday. “They say they’re for peace, but their actions don’t accord with that. [Hathout] is an example of that.”

 
Yet some Jews who have worked closely over the years with Hathout dismiss the criticism as mean-spirited and counterproductive. His defenders include rabbis and political activists, among others, who characterize him as a moderate Muslim who opposes Muslim extremism and favors tolerance and inclusion. They argue that intemperate remarks about Israel should not be justification to marginalize him.
“He’s a man who’s demonstrated in every way his commitment to what is humane,” said Rabbi Leonard Beerman, the retired founding rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in West Los Angeles. “He’s a moderate in the Muslim world. If we can’t embrace him, we’re left twisting in the wind.”

 
Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, rabbi emeritus at Temple Kol Tikvah in Woodland Hills, argued that Hathout’s humanity and decency was especially evident at a 2002 Jewish-Muslim Passover seder he and Hathout helped organize.

 
Hathout called the seder one of the most moving religious experiences of his life, Jacobs said.

 
“If I felt [Hathout] was an extremist prone to violence and approved of things that are antithetical to Jews, I wouldn’t be here,” Jacobs said at a Sept. 8 press conference at the Islamic Center, which attracted more than 20 prominent local religious leaders who support Hathout.

 
Appearing three days later before the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, a confident and resolute Hathout said he has worked tirelessly to promote dialogue and diversity. Attempting to allay concerns over his past remarks, he told the commission and the emotionally charged audience of 100 that he supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestianian confict, as well as Israel’s right to exist, and that he has long condemned suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism as antithetical to the Quran’s teachings.

 
At the same time, Hathout remained steadfast in his criticisms of Israel. The retired cardiologist defended his right to criticize the president and Congress of the United States, as well as the state of Israel, and he said he would continue to do so long as he saw injustices. He said he believes that it is only his sharp comments about the Jewish state that have created the pressure on the human relations commission to rescind.

 
“There’s a storm of hate raised to a hurricane directed to me, my name, and, I guess, to you,” Hathout told the commissioners. “You can be sure if I had been talking about Canada or Brazil, we would not have such a hurricane.”

 
The human relations commission, after listening to nearly 50 speakers in a two and half hour meeting, decided to postpone a decision on what, if anything, to do about Hathout’s award until its next meeting on Sept. 18.

 
Some of Hathout’s critics used their time before the commissioners to raise questions about the nomination process. Normally, a commission subcommittee accepts nominations for the award and the full commission accepts the nomination. The county supervisors themselves have no vote in the matter.
According to sources, ordinarily commissioners themselves put forward names. In this instance, Hathout’s name was put forward by MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati. Al-Marayati represented that Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Zev Yaroslavsky supported Hathout’s nomination, though both men have said they never took a position.

Richard Wagner’s Day of Reckoning


Was Richard Wagner, Hitler’s favorite composer, a classical anti-Semite and proto-Nazi or has conventional assumption given him a bad rap?

Who better to consider the question than Wagner himself, and he does on his last day on earth in 1883 in an apologia pro su vida addressed to the ghost of Felix Mendelssohn.

Wagner, whose music is still largely taboo in public performances in Israel, mounts his defense in the American premiere of the play, “Richard and Felix,” currently at the MET Theatre, written by Cornelius Schnauber. While some of the play’s assertions and arguments are still hotly debated by musical scholars and historians, Schnauber presents a much more complex and conflicted Wagner than either his admirers or detractors might like.

One argument revolves around Wagner’s origin. In the play, he mentions his beloved “Jewish father.” This was Ludwig Geyer, an actor who adopted and raised the young Richard after marrying his widowed mother, and who may well have been both the boy’s biological father and of Jewish descent.

Needless to say, the Nazis repressed all such details.

Wagner, played by actor-director Louis Fantasia (after June 1, by Don DeForest Paul), is nothing if not inconsistent. As a youthful anarchist, and later socialist, he rails against Jewish land speculators and capitalists, and in a notorious essay accuses Jewish music and composers of corrupting the German soul.

Yet he greatly admired much of Mendelssohn’s work, particularly the Hebrides Overture, insisted that conductor Hermann Levi premiere his operas, praised Heinrich Heine and, at one point, proclaimed that the Jews are “the noblest of all Germans.”

Like many another husband, he blames part of his reputation on his wife, Cosima, who was a virulent Jew hater.

Schnauber, who directs the USC Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies and has been a leader in fostering German-Jewish relations, said in an interview that the ideas expressed in the play are based primarily on Wagner’s own writings.

Asked to speculate whether Wagner, had he lived long enough, would have supported his great admirer, Adolf Hitler, Schnauber gave a definite no.

“Wagner would have considered the Nazi regime as a petty bourgeois dictatorship,” said Schnauber. “Wagner opposed the death penalty and killing. He would have left Germany.”

Schnauber’s generally favorable depiction of Wagner’s character has been widely disputed, however. Among the composer’s strongest critics has been his great-grandson, Gottfried Wagner, who denounced his family’s hereditary anti-Semitism in his book, “Twilight of the Wagners.”

“Richard and Felix” is presented in tandem with the longer one-act “Irma and Emma,” also by Schnauber.

The heroines, played by a flamboyant Laura James and mousey and sly Dorothy Constantine, are residents of an old-age home in post-war Germany. They are semi-senile and confuse time, place and identity, but offer some laughs in their political and sexual observations.

Both plays continue through June 25 on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees at the MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave. For information, call (323) 957-1152 or visit www.theMETtheatre.com.

 

Letters


The Smart Card

The idea that in medieval Europe, among Christians, the smartest people generally practiced celibacy, while, among Jews, the scholars and rabbis had big families, had occurred to me some time ago (“Are Jews Smarter?” June 10).

Another possible reason for Jewish intellectual achievement could be that with the rise of rabbinic Judaism and synagogues in the Talmudic period, Jewish men at least were required to learn to read in order to recite the Torah. This requirement for study and learning probably spilled over into the pursuit of secular learning.

In order to test the idea of smart genes connected with Tay-Sachs disease, a study of Sephardic Jews should be made to see if they, too, have a history of intellectual achievement and success. I have only anecdotal data.

For example, a good friend of mine is a Sephardic Jew from Peru. His father’s success story parallels that of many Ashkenazim: He was born in Constantinople and moved to Peru where he started a fabric store in Lima and became wealthy. He sent his children to American colleges, where I met his son. In the Turkish empire, Jews held prominent positions in the court of the sultan, due to their ability. Bernard Baruch had a Sephardic background. In England there were prominent Sephardic families: the D’Avigdors, Montagus and Desola-Pools.

Therefore, it would be good if a study could be made to show whether Sephardim have a high intelligence level without the benefit of Tay-Sachs. By the way, I am not Sephardic, myself — solamente en mi Corazon [only in my heart].

Marshall Giller
Winnetka

Reel Was Real

Several weeks ago, an old college classmate on the East Coast posted a rave review touting the cultural diversity lessons of “Crash” on the alumna message boards (“Reel Life,” June 10). Against our better judgment, my husband and I went to see the movie. Since then, I have been trying to write her to tell of the negative feelings that “Crash” evoked in me. I also felt that I needed to describe and defend my “L.A.” to her.

My struggle has ended. A few moments ago, I e-mailed your editorial “Reel Life” to her.

One of the reasons I have loved living in L.A. for the past 35 years is the cultural diversity that the city offers. Your “snapshots” are indeed reflective of the truth of Los Angeles, where we value differences for the positive outcomes and growth that are provided by a diverse population.

Your editorial is beautifully written and was the perfect answer I needed.

Sonya Baum
Marina del Rey

Left Out of Cannes

I am writing in response to the article, “Project Shabbat a ‘Go’ in Cannes,” written by Carole Raphaelle Davis (May 27).

My first question for Davis is, “Were we at the same Shabbat dinner?” As an attendee of the event, I found the article to be too disingenuous. The false impression she presented was that this was just another schmooze fest. When in reality our hosts, with limited resources, succeed in creating an oasis of Jewish spirituality in Cannes.

Davis begins her article quite correctly in describing the 24/7 deal hustling that occurs in Cannes. The film festival is a marketplace where people spend time, energy, and money in order to secure a deal so they can return and repeat the cycle the following year. Scott Einbinder and Steven Kaplan diverted much personal energy to coordinate what turned out to be a beautiful community-building event. Do you know how hard it is to find a kosher caterer in Cannes?

Davis stated that Rabbi Mendel Schwartz flew in for the dinner. She failed to mention that Einbinder sponsored the trip.

I wish Davis had referenced my conversation with Schwartz about the beauty of creating a community and acknowledging, through ritual, how blessed we are.

Also she could have mentioned that a Jewish woman from New Orleans had her first experience of a formal Kiddush. She had such a meaningful experience and wanted to kiss the rabbi, but then understood that it would be improper (so she kissed the person next to him).

Instead, Davis chose to misquote a joke I made about the nature of Einbinder’s film, “Velvet Side of Hell.” This quote angered me because it slanderously portrayed Einbinder’s professionalism as a filmmaker.

Yes, people did talk business during Shabbat, but it was not the primary focus of the dinner. I trust God will forgive some unconscious transgressions. I don’t know why Davis considered that the “business chatter was predictably ridiculous.”

Quite frankly I would prefer to work with people who make the moral choice to take time out for a Shabbat dinner then some other Cannes event.

Yet the fact that 40-plus people choose to celebrate Shabbat instead of going to a premiere or other event (and there were many alternatives to choose from) was lost in her narrow vision.

Too bad Davis had not been with us after the “party” as we were carrying the leftovers home, looking for a cab, when behind us we saw the silhouettes of the three rabbis walking down the hill from the villa. We saw that as a sign and decided instead to walk back three kilometers home. The rabbis joined us, and when we got to the Croisette (the center of Cannes) the three rabbis and Einbinder started dancing in street celebrating the Shabbat. That alone is very newsworthy!

Perhaps if Davis were not preoccupied with her “handsome Corsican” friend, who gave her a ride to the party, she would not have missed the true meaning and beauty of the evening. Note that I was one of several non-Jews in attendance and the event helped deepen my appreciation of Judaism.

Peter M. Graham II
Principal
120 dB Films

Iraq vs. Israel

Regarding David Finnigan’s interview with me in his article on Jews who’ve been to Iraq since the U.S. invasion (“Professor Sees Iraq War as a ‘Disaster,'” May 27), I wish to make an important clarification to the quotation from me at the end of the piece.

In the midst of a discussion of the boycott call against Israeli academics, I am quoted as saying: “How can someone sitting in America or the U.K. call for divestment from Israel, when the occupation of Iraq has killed far more Iraqis and done far more damage to that society in two years than Israel has done to Palestinian society in more than a century? Or China: How horrific the occupation and the genocide of Tibet has been. Sudan?”

What I believe I said in that conversation — or certainly intended to say, and I think was clear from our longer conversation — was “How can someone sitting in America or the UK call only for divestment from Israel….”

The point being that focusing only on Israel when other countries engage in similar or even more extreme violations of human, political and civil rights is intellectually, morally and strategically shortsighted.

This is very different from arguing, as the quote suggests, that Israel should not face sanctions as long as other countries engage in even graver rights violations. Rather, one standard should be applied to every country, including our own, if real peace and justice are ever to be achieved in any country.

Mark LeVine
UC Irvine
Department of History

Don’t Knock Nixon

Once again your “rag” printed an outrageous piece of trash about “Deep Throat,” intimating that President Richard Nixon was an anti-Semite (“Deep Throat: Not a Jew,” June 3).

Just the opposite is true. I knew President Nixon and if you could read Golda Meir’s biography you may learn something. Don’t you just wish that someone would investigate something just as vile against President Bush? I bet you do!

Diane Jacobs
Los Angeles

Harburg’s Heritage

A recent letter by Jacqueline Bassan makes the ridiculous claim that lyricist E. Y. Harburg was not Jewish (“Letters,” May 27).

I direct the writer’s attention to two books that abundantly state otherwise. The first is a memoir by Harburg himself, in the collection “Creators and Disturbers” (Columbia University Press, 1982). The other is by his son, Ernie, in collaboration with Harold Meyerson, in “Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz?” (University of Michigan Press, 1993).

Jack Gottlieb
Author
“Funny, It Doesn’t Sound Jewish”

More Than ‘Special’

I am writing this because I was not satisfied with how we were portrayed in your 2005 graduation article (“A Special School?” June 10).

We at Ohr Haemet appreciate that Julie Gruenbaum Fax took the time to interview two of our students. While we are indeed a special school, there is far more about our school that makes it special besides not only measuring a student’s success based on which Ivy League they got into.

We are a college preparatory, WASC accredited school. We offer honors and AP courses. Our classes are small, our teachers are available to our students. Our students go to the UCs, the Cal States and other private universities like USC. Our students are taught the beauty of our Torah with such warmth and love that they usually make the choice to observe Shabbat, kashrut and family purity (when they marry).

Who comes to our school? Girls who want individualized attention in the classroom, girls who want to focus on what it means to be a good Jew and a good person. We focus holistically on each student so they can leave our school feeling confident both academically and spiritually.

Our students become nurses, doctors, lawyers, teachers, pharmacists, writers and social workers. They have made very conscious choices in their education and careers so they can also marry and raise a family. They leave Ohr Haemet with their priorities straight. We are proud of every girl’s accomplishments.

We measure our success by helping and encouraging every girl to use her potential to succeed. We are a viable option for the secular and Jewish education for many high school girls in Los Angeles.

Batsheva Isaac
General Studies Principal
Ohr Haemet Institute

Look for Local Brains

After reading Professor Aaron Ciechanover article (“Is an Israel Brain Drain Nigh?” June 10), I find it sad that Israel can’t tap the resourses in Southern California of laid-off and unemployed engineers and technicians who would be willing to work as well as teach and train to increase Israel’s technical brain power.

Steven Winnick
via e-mail

 

Screen Scribe


Norman Hudis is a patient man, not by temperament but by necessity. It took the ex-Londoner and current Woodland Hills resident some 30 years to see his play produced on stage, and if the venue is Santa Ana rather than Manhattan, he is as pleased as any playwright savoring his name on a Broadway marquee.

The play is titled "Dinner With Ribbentrop." That would be Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s ambassador to Great Britain and later his foreign minister, who was hanged in Nuremberg as a war criminal.

While serving in London in 1938, Ribbentrop met British actor and screen star Eric Portman and was pleased to find in him a raging anti-Semite.

In the 1950s, Hudis worked as publicist for Sir Arthur Rank’s Pinewood Studio and there met Portman. The actor boasted that during a private dinner with Ribbentrop, the Nazi diplomat promised him that after the German victory in the upcoming war, the New Order would make Portman England’s greatest star in a Jew-free British film industry.

In the months following, the Jewish publicist, a grandson of Russian immigrants, and the Jew-hating actor spent long hours together in pubs arguing heatedly.

In the play, set in the 1950s, Portman is offered the role of his lifetime by a Jewish producer, and their very first meeting erupts into a furious dispute about Jews.

After Hudis finished the play, it made the rounds of London producers. They hailed it as brilliant, challenging and mordantly funny, said Hudis, but rejected it for fear that giving a platform to a handsome, witty and eloquent anti-Semite would offend the Jewish theater-going public.

Now living with his wife, Rita, the 82-year-old Hudis is writing his autobiography, titled "Running Late," and it should be a lively read.

At 16, he was a junior reporter and at 21, as a member of the Royal Air Force, he was the youngest war correspondent in the Middle East. Back in civilian life, he became a "picture plugger" for a studio publicity department, and then a screenwriter.

He wrote the scripts of some 20 "B" pictures and then hit it big with the wildly popular "Carry On, Nurse," a very risqué comedy for its time,

In the 1960s the family settled in Hollywood, where Hudis became an award-winning TV writer. His writing stints have ranged from mysteries, rock ‘n’ roll shows and crime thrillers to bible spectacles and classic comedy.

"Dinner With Ribbentrop" runs through May 23 at the Rude Guerrilla Theater, 200 N. Broadway, Santa Ana. For information, call (714) 547-4688.

Hidden Heritage Inspires Director


British film director Stephen Frears was drawn to "Liam," about the making of an anti-Semite, partly because of a startling family secret he discovered in his late 20s.

His brother blurted out the news during his grandmother’s 90th birthday party, not long after Frears had married a Jewish woman. "He said how pleased our grandmother was that I had married a Jewish girl — and that our mother was Jewish," recalls Frears, 60, the director of "The Grifters" and "High Fidelity." "Of course I was surprised that something like this had been concealed from me for so long."

The revelation came out of left field. Frears and his mum had regularly attended Church of England services in his gritty hometown of Leicester, where, he recalls, "there was simply no evidence that Jews existed." Frears didn’t meet his first identifiable Jew until he was 13 and off at boarding school. "We called him ‘Ikey,’ which is what they used to call Jews in the East End, in an unthinking, schoolboy way," he says by phone from his home in the Notting Hill section of London.

Frears’ mother never revealed why she chose to conceal her background, but the director has his theories. Perhaps it was to rebel against her parents, he suggests; perhaps it was to conceal her German maiden name, Danziger, during World War II; perhaps it was to circumvent the covert anti-Semitism prevalent in Britain after the war. "People are very open about Jewishness in America, but in England, there’s a great deal of silence about it," he explains. "People just eliminate what they don’t like."

The anti-Semitism depicted in "Liam," now in theaters, is of a more strident nature. The setting is a rigidly Catholic neighborhood in 1930s Liverpool, where 7-year-old Liam (Anthony Borrows) prepares for his first Communion as his father becomes increasingly resentful toward the Jews.

The trouble starts when Dad is laid off by his Jewish employer, forcing Liam’s teenage sister to go to work as a servant for a Jewish adulteress (she’s bribed to keep silent about the affair). A Jewish pawnbroker and moneylender continually gouge the family. Eventually Dad becomes a fascist.

Frears admits some of his Jewish characters are less than flattering — but that is the point, he insists. "This is the story of a man who ends up as a Black Shirt, so of course his point of view is going to be hideously stereotyped," he says.

Liam’s impoverished childhood reminds Frears of his own early years during World War II. "I remember a lack of food," says the director, who is the son of a physician. "Most of the rooms in our house were closed because we couldn’t afford to heat them, so I basically sat with my mother in the kitchen for five or six years. I used to have baths in front of the fire, like a working-class child."

Even when his family’s lifestyle improved, Frears found Leicester to be "dull and oppressive." He escaped by retreating to the cinema twice a week.

In his 20s, the Cambridge law grad went to work for director Karel Reisz — known for "slice of life" films about the working class — and eventually churned out his own British TV movies about the working poor. His BBC film "My Beautiful Laundrette," about the relationship between a Cockney punk and a Pakistani immigrant, earned him international acclaim in 1985. Three years later, he came to Hollywood to make his first American film, "Dangerous Liaisons," starring Glenn Close and John Malkovich as French aristocrats bent on games of sexual revenge.

Frears made an interesting discovery while shooting subsequent U.S. films such as "Hero," starring Dustin Hoffman. "I found that the film industry here is dominated by Jews, and that America has a completed different attitude toward Jews than Britain," he says. "It was all much more public and upfront and talked about and part of life. So, as it were, the British silence had ended."

Yet, Frears never bothered to set foot in a synagogue or read up on Judaism. One reason, he hints, is a cruel irony that devastated him around the time he learned he was Jewish. His now 29-year-old son was born with a genetic illness, familial dysautonomia, that is carried by one in 30 Ashkenazi Jews. "His life has been dominated by this illness," Frears says. "I may not have known I was Jewish, but I carried the gene."

"Liam," based on Jimmy McGovern’s autobiographical screenplay, is one of the few times Frears has actively sought out anything to do with his heritage. "I was very aware that this was the first time I was making a film that dealt with the Jewish experience and people," he says. "I guess I was curious. I was sticking a toe into the water."

The Future Is Now


Standing alone next to a yellow sign with black letters warning, “Buchanan is the Fourth Reich,” Bob Kunst, president of the Shalom International, became a magnet for heated emotions on the sidewalk outside Long Beach’s Convention Center last Friday afternoon.

“Buchanan represents the extreme right wing,” explains Kunst, who traveled from Miami to Long Beach to protest Buchanan. “He represents the trivialization of the Holocaust, defends Nazi war criminals, and apologizes for the Nazi collaborator Pope Pius XII.”

Listening with disbelief and obvious displeasure, Duncan Halliburton, a muscular man dressed in a “Marines: The Tough Team” T-shirt, counters, “He’s espousing a falsehood that Pat is a Nazi and wants to start a new Holocaust against the Jews. Pat’s issues are NAFTA, GATT, illegal immigration and shipping off jobs.” A TV cameraman captures the short screaming match.

“There are lots of anti-Semites and Nazis in America,” yells Kunst, a wiry Jewish activist whose group has put on 150 anti-Nazi events in the last 10 years.

“Nobody spins better than Buchanan,” says Kunst, a 50-something who protested for a unified Jerusalem outside Camp David during the Mideast Summit. “Look at Buchanan’s history of hate. I spoke to a Texas delegate who denied the Holocaust happened.”

Inside the convention center lobby, myriad activists lined the hall with tables for a wide variety of political causes ranging from abolishing the WTO, ending trade with Red China and protecting the Second Amendment to banning abortion, ending illegal immigration and reforming election laws to ban corporate PACs. The John Birch Society, the California Coalition for Immigration Reform and Jeremiah Films, the producers of the “The Clinton Chronicles,” stocked their tables with large supplies of controversial books, videotapes and audiocassettes alerting Americans to dangers and various underreported conspiracies. One fast-selling bumper sticker read, “Clinton snorts coke, rapes women, takes bribes, launders money, starts wars, what’s next?”

Amidst this sea of strong political speech, it was easy to overlook the “Americans for Buchanan” newspaper dated July 24, 2000. One article, titled “JFK’s Views on WW II Were the Same As Buchanan,” defends the American First Movement in the 1930s. The second small article, “Buchanan Anti-Semitic” says “If, because of his foreign policy views, Pat Buchanan is an ‘anti-Semite’ as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith and others have claimed, Buchanan is in rather distinguished company.” The article proceeds to list 26 prominent elected officials, including President Nixon, Secretary of State Jim Baker, Pete McCloskey and Andrew Young for their views.

Buried inside the publication, however, was a bizarre and deeply disturbing full-page article titled “George Bush and Al Gore: What’s the Difference?” Arguing that a small group of elite advisers “share the core principle of ‘Israel First,'” the article on page 10 claims that the “rogue states rollback” means “undeclared warfare and even genocide against Islamic nations that refuse to recognize and bow to Israeli hegemony.” The solution: Vote Buchanan. An ad for the anti-Semitic paper The Spotlight, runs on page 11. Sitting behind the table for the California Council for Immigration Reform, Evelyn Miller, a retired LAUSD teacher, links continuing anti-Semitism to the support of mainstream Jewish organizations for “open borders.”

“Working with the immigration-reform movement, I’ve encountered my share of bigots. They exist in every movement,” begins Miller, a Jewish activist living in Orange County. “Most people don’t want illegal immigrants. But all our Jewish politicians, the ADL, the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee push for more and more immigration. I hear people saying we’re creating problems.”I don’t worry about being picked on [as a Jew],” continues Miller. “I worry about my country.”Anti-Semitism is not an issue in the Reform movement or the Reform Party split, said Daniel Goldman, chairman of Florida’s Reform Party, who remained with Buchanan.

“Sometimes people make politically incorrect statements that some would call offensive, but it’s out of awkwardness and never out of hatred,” said Goldman.

Does Goldman, being Jewish, feel uncomfortable backing Buchanan for president?

“I told Pat I support Israel’s right to exist, and he understands.” Goldman then talks about his father’s reaction to his active role in the Buchanan campaign.

“He said, ‘I have no problem if you support Pat Buchanan. The worst that can happen is you help elect Al Gore. If I thought your efforts would led to Pat Buchanan becoming president, then I’d throw myself in front of a bus.'”

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