Reward offered in search for U.C. Davis swastika vandals


The Anti-Defamation League has offered a $2,500 reward for assistance in catching whoever spray-painted swastikas at a Jewish fraternity house at the University of California, Davis.

The reward, which was announced by Davis police on Tuesday and reported by the Sacramento Bee, is for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who painted the two swastikas between 2 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

The swastikas appeared at the off-campus house of Alpha Epsilon Pi two days after the U.C. Davis student senate passed a divestment resolution targeting Israel.

In response to the vandalism, Andrew Borans, the national executive of AEPi, announced in a statement that “Alpha Epsilon Pi International has dispatched staff and security experts to Davis to assure that our brothers are safe in their university and safe when expressing their Judaism and support for Israel.”

In addition, an online petition demanding “immediate condemnation of this hateful act from all UC Davis administrative officials as well as from every single ASUCD elected representative” had garnered 16,037 signatures by Wednesday.

U.C. Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi issued a statement condemning the vandalism attack on Saturday, the same day that the swastikas were found.

Danish Jews report record level of anti-Semitic attacks


The Jewish community of Denmark documented 40 anti-Semitic incidents in 2012, almost double those in 2009, a year that marked a sharp upturn in such attacks.

A report released on Feb. 25 by AKVAH, the security unit of Denmark's Jewish community of 8,000, counted six physical attacks on Jews last year.

In one of them, in November, several men of Middle Eastern descent hit an elderly Israeli man in the Copenhagen suburb of Norrebro and tore off a Star of David pendant from around the victim's neck.

AKVAH documented two attempted assaults and 10 incidents in which Jews were verbally abused for being Jews. Other incidents included intimidation and threats.

In 2009, which began with an Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, the community reported 21 incidents, a substantial increase over the average of three incidents in the previous six years.

The report did not say how many such incidents were documented in 2011. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has said it received no data on attacks in 2011 and 2010 from institutions belonging to Denmark’s Jewish community. The FRA report from last year only contains data for the years 2003-2009.

FRA said last year that Danish authorities offered no disaggregated statistical data on hate crimes, but said there was an even distribution of offences targeting Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Police investigate hazing at Boston Jewish frat


Boston police launched a criminal investigation after finding five men bound together nearly naked in the basement of a Jewish fraternity house.

Police responding to a noise complaint early Monday morning discovered the Boston University students in the basement of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house.

The men were found bound together by duct tape around their wrists, clothed only in their underwear and covered in flour, honey, hot sauce and other food products, according to a police report. They also had welts on their body.

“All five were shivering and had horrified and fearful looks on their faces,” the police report said.

Police are seeking criminal complaints against 14 people in connection with the hazing incident.

Alpha Epsilon Pi is an international Jewish fraternity. The Allston fraternity house was its Boston University branch, though the chapter is not officially sanctioned by the school or its Interfraternity Council.

The fraternity house was known for hosting wild parties.

B.U. officials said that those responsible for the hazing could face suspension or expulsion.

AEPi’s national headquarters condemned the hazing at the 30-member house.

“Alpha Epsilon Pi does not—in any way—condone hazing of any type,” the fraternity said. “We have been a leader for many years on this subject and expend considerable effort each year to educate our chapter leaders and members as to the proper new member education programs.”

The fraternity said that it has now closed its B.U. chapter.

“Any members found responsible for participating in any actions contrary to our risk management guidelines will be expelled,” the statement said. “We also intend to fully cooperate with all authorities and investigations.”

Student sues UC Davis over Jewish fraternity hazing


A former University of California at Davis student has filed a lawsuit against the university. His claims include negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and creating a hostile educational environment — all stemming from the university’s refusal to address his complaints about hazing at a Jewish fraternity on campus.

According to the court papers filed on behalf of Ryan Clifford, he was forced to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol laced with drugs and was subjected to violent and sexual abuse. Clifford says that Alpha Epsilon Pi pledges were required to attend a retreat at Lake Tahoe, where senior members forced them to drink “inordinate amount of alcohol” laced with narcotics. Clifford says he was also forced to undress in front of everyone there and that some of the fraternity members touched his penis and made sexual comments. The lawsuit lists other instances of abuse, including one that resulted in Clifford’s suffering a broken bone requiring two orthopedic surgeries.

In addition, Clifford alleges that he was “specifically targeted for the harshest form of hazing, known as ‘ratfucking,’ because of his non-Jewish religious affiliation.”

Clifford says that the university did not initially respond to any of his complaints. Eventually, it did put AEPi on “conditional registration” status for seven month. Clifford claims, however, that the university did not monitor the fraternity and that the abusive behavior continued as before.

Eventually Clifford left the fraternity and filed suit against it. At that point, Clifford claims the university advised him to withdraw from his studies, despite his being only 6.5 credits away from graduation. Clifford did so and then sued the university.

Black-Jewish Passover not about blame


I am disturbed, not by the content, but by the direction, of the entire discussion regarding the relationship between blacks and Jews, and particularly by the discussion about comments supposedly made at a recent awards ceremony here in Los Angeles.

I am Jewish, of European ancestry; my wife is black, with Chinese and Native American ancestry included. What shall we tell our son this Passover, when we retell the tale of how his Jewish ancestors were freed from slavery in Africa?

Shall we trade accusations against each other? The statement reputed to have been made at a fraternity event, that some Jews in the entertainment industry exploited and profited from black performers, is probably true. It is also true that Jewish union leaders, lawyers and agents in the entertainment industry have fought for better wages and working conditions for blacks and others in the industry. Many Jews played crucial roles in the struggle for civil rights, and undoubtedly there were some on the other side as well. We can go back farther to trade accusations. Were there Jews who owned slaves and were involved in the slave trade? Probably so; and yet there were also Jews fighting for abolition. Does it matter whether those on one side outnumbered those on the other?

To be honest, I must tell my son that his African ancestors were on both sides as well. How else did Africans become African Americans? Did a few Europeans (perhaps including some Jews) march into Africa and march out with tens of millions of slaves? Actually, it was their African “brothers” who sent them into slavery. Whether it was for small reasons like personal squabbles, or large reasons like tribal warfare, it was primarily Africans who sent other Africans into slavery, just as Joseph was sold into slavery in Africa by his own brothers.

So is the point of the Passover story that the Hebrews were the “good guys” being held in slavery by “evil” Africans? Emphatically not. And neither should the point of the current discussion be to lay blame on anyone.

What I will tell my son is how his ancestors woke up to their oppression in Africa, and joined together to claim their freedom. I will also have him dip 10 times from his cup to diminish his joy of celebration by the Ten Plagues suffered by the Africans to allow us to be free. I will tell him of his African ancestors dragged in chains to this country; how a violent war was fought to end the slavery, and a nonviolent struggle fought to gain some of the civil rights he now enjoys. And again, I will have him dip from his cup to diminish his joy by the suffering that was the cost of those advances.

Why was I commanded to tell the story of Passover to my children? I do not believe it is to exchange blame, as I see being done today. No. I believe it is to remember that his ancestors, on both sides, suffered from oppression, and must oppose oppression whenever they see it again. It is my duty, which I must pass on to him, to stand up against such oppression today, whether against my own people or others.

I will tell my son of one of my own heroes. Not Moses or Jesus or the Rev.Martin Luther King Jr., but someone very few people ever heard of: Sigismund Danielewicz.

Danielewicz was a Jewish barber from Poland who became one of the most prominent leaders and organizers of California Labor in the 1880s. His downfall came at the convention called in 1885, which was the forerunner to the current California Federation of Labor. The main issue on the table was a resolution to drive the Chinese from the state within 60 days, by force if necessary. Danielewicz alone spoke out against the resolution. He pointed out that he was a member of a race still persecuted, and challenged each group there to say whether the persecution of the Chinese was more justifiable than the persecution they had suffered themselves. His call for unity among labor was jeered, and he was declared out of order. The resolution passed, and was the justification for a virtual pogrom of deadly violence against the Chinese in the months that followed.

Danielewicz sank into obscurity. He was last seen homeless and on foot toward the East Coast in 1910. Why then do I idolize a man who was driven from the podium and doomed to obscurity? Because he had the chutzpah to stand up against oppression, no matter what the cost, simply because it was the right thing to do.

This is what I will tell my son on Passover: It does not matter what color your skin is, nor even what faith you profess to hold. What matters is what you do; which side you choose to be on. The question we must face is not who is to blame for injustice and oppression of the past, but what can we do to fight injustice and oppression now. We should not exercise moderation in this regard, as some have suggested. We must be forceful and as persistent as our ancestors who fought oppression were. We cannot change the past, but we must remember it. We must look up from our own oppression to the light of freedom. We must not look away from the oppression of others, but confront it directly. We must be brave enough to stand up against the tide as Danielewicz did and cry out against oppression, no matter what others say about us.

Even if we do not see the Promised Land ourselves, as with Moses, and even if our words seem to fall on deaf ears, as with Danielewicz, our words and deeds are not lost. The words of my real Jewish barber hero were heard again in Charlie Chaplin’s fictional Jewish barber, with which I conclude my Passover story:

“Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly.”

Briefs: Three plead guilty in SoCal terror plot; Report says UCI acted properly


Three Plead Guilty in Terror Plot

Three members of an Islamic terrorist cell who were on the verge of attacking the Israeli consulate, an El Al ticket counter and two synagogues, face up to 20 to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty in federal court to conspiring to levy war against the United States.

The carefully planned plot was discovered by chance in July 2005. Authorities say it was closer to going operational than any other terrorist plan since Sept. 11 and engaged a joint task force of 350 federal, state and local investigators.

Kevin Lamar James, 31, and Levar Haley Washington, 28, entered guilty pleas in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana last week, and a third defendant, Gregory Vernon Patterson, 27, entered his plea with the court on Monday.

A fourth cell member, Hammad Riaz Samana, was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial and is undergoing psychiatric care at a federal prison, federal prosecutors say.

James founded the cell as Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (JIS), translated as Assembly of Authentic Islam, from his jail cell in 1997 and then recruited fellow Black Muslim converts at the New Folsom prison near Sacramento.

Torrance police stumbled on the cell when they arrested Washington and Patterson in a string of gas station robberies intended to raise money for the planned attacks.

A search of Washington’s apartment yielded “jihadist” literature, a cache of weapons, a target list and a lead to James as the JIS leader. A search of the latter’s cell produced the draft of a press release to be issued after the first attack, which included a warning to “sincere Muslims” to avoid potential targets, including “Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of an Israeli state.”

Listed as planned targets were National Guard and military installations and a range of Jewish targets, such as the “Headquarters of Zion,” followed by the address of the Israeli consulate, an unexplained “Camp site of Zion,” and the El Al ticket counter at the Los Angeles International Airport — the site of a murderous rampage in 2002, which killed two Israeli Americans — and two synagogues.

Ehud Danoch, Israeli consul general here in 2005, recalled the threatened attack on his office and staff as the tensest days in his three-year tenure during a recent farewell interview.

The two synagogues, which were likely to be assaulted during Yom Kippur services, have never been officially identified, but are located in the heavily Orthodox Pico-Robertson neighborhood of the city.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Regional Director Amanda Susskind praised the work of law enforcement agencies in the case and reaffirmed that ADL will continue to monitor extremism in prisons, the radicalization of Islam, and domestic terrorist threats.

The successful conclusion of the case reversed a string of setbacks by the U.S. Justice Department in trying to convict alleged terrorists in American courts, such as last week’s refusal by a federal jury in Miami to convict seven indigent men, who allegedly plotted to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago.

— Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Report Finds UCI Acted Appropriately

A federal civil rights investigation has cleared University of California, Irvine administrators of allegations that they systematically turned a blind eye to intimidation and harassment of Jewish students over a four-year period.

The ruling by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in San Francisco, made public Dec. 12, was in response to a complaint filed by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

The complaint cited a long series of incidents in which Muslim and Arab students and extremist Muslim speakers had vilified Jews and incited against “Zionists” and Israel, without appropriate response by campus administrators.

Among the cited incidents were threats against students wearing Star of David and pro-Israel T-shirts, vandalism of a Holocaust memorial exhibit and a one-hour speech in which a Muslim cleric attacked “the apartheid state of Israel” and its “Nazi behavior,” as well as “American imperialism” and “the Zionist-controlled media.”

The federal ruling, which closed a three-year probe, found that while such acts were “offensive to Jewish students,” the incidents were “based on opposition to the policies of Israel,” and not on the “national origin” of the Jewish students.

UCI Chancellor Michael Clark welcomed the report and asserted that “we remain firmly committed to freedom of speech and open discourse … and equally committed to maintaining a safe, non-threatening environment for all members of our community.”

Manuel Gomez, who as UCI vice chancellor for student affairs dealt with the issue on an ongoing basis, said that he was particularly pleased by the report’s finding that the “university responded in a prompt and effective manner” to campus incidents.

A different reaction came from Susan B. Tuchman, director of ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice in New York, who said that she was “obviously disappointed and outraged.

“This was a difficult case, but the evidence was clear that Jewish students had been harassed and that the university had not responded adequately,” she said.

Tuchman had drafted the ZOA complaint under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, she said, defined Jews not only as a religious but also an ethnic group under the “national origin” clause.

She blamed a change in leadership at the Office of Civil Rights, shortly after she filed the complaint in October 2004, for narrowing the protection afforded Jewish plaintiffs.

Tuchman warned that the federal decision “sent a very depressing message that the agency will not afford protection to Jewish students and this will embolden the perpetrators of hate actions on campuses.”

She added that ZOA was now weighing its options to pursue the matter.

At the time ZOA filed the complaint, some local Jewish officials characterized it as a misguided effort by outsiders.

Kevin O’Grady, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League for Orange County/Long Beach, said that he remained skeptical that the ZOA action had been an effective way to deal with the campus administration.

Fraternity brothers of Sigma Alpha Mu ponder future after Chapman College denial


The brothers of Sigma Alpha Mu aren’t wearing their letters to class at Chapman University this semester.

The Sammys aren’t even allowed to meet at Chapman to gather for an off-campus event. Their rush parties can’t be advertised on university Web sites nor on any other campus property for that matter, even at the height of fall recruitment.

And while other fraternities are boasting their merits to prospective pledges, the Sammys might well warn unsuspecting freshmen that associating with them on campus might not be the best idea.

It’s a far cry from the dream of starting the first Jewish fraternity at the private Orange County institution hatched by then-sophomore Pascal de Maria back in 2005. And yet after what seemed a promising beginning, the group now finds itself banned from campus, the outcast of Chapman Greek life.

Amid accusations of mutual wrongdoing, including a pending federal investigation into possible student privacy violations and anonymous threats against school administrators, who’s to blame for the current morass remains in the eye of the beholder. What is certain is that the Chapman students feel betrayed by the very administrators they entrusted to guide their aspirations, and university officials are fed up with rogue operations by students who won’t take “no” for an answer.

From his office at the Indianapolis national headquarters of