A spray-painted swastika was discovered on the concrete next to a baseball field at Dos Vientos Community Park in Conejo Valley. Photo courtesy of the Anti-Defamation League Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties

Anti-Semitic graffiti discovered in Conejo Valley park over the weekend


Three spray-painted swastikas were discovered over the weekend at Dos Vientos Community Park in the Conejo Valley — two on the wooden boards on the perimeter of a baseball field, and one on the concrete next to it, according to Cyndi Silverman, regional director of the Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Residents of the area discovered the graffiti at the Newbury Park site and notified authorities on Saturday, according to Steve Gold, a congregant of Congregation Am Hayam in Ventura County. It has since been removed.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department could not be reached immediately for comment, but the Ventura County Star reported that the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime but rather as a misdemeanor vandalism incident.

“We called it into the police department to have them investigate it, which they did, and it wasn’t registered as a hate crime, because it was not addressed to anyone in particular,” Gold told the Journal.

Gold said he was surprised to find the swastikas in his neighborhood in the first place.

“I really think this is just an independent person who probably has anger issues. I don’t feel in my neighborhood polarizations occurring,” he said.

Silverman said the three swastikas discovered at the park were only the latest incidents she has seen in the area. She declined to draw a correlation between the uptick and the election of President Donald Trump.

It’s “definitely a concern, seeing an uptick in hate symbols, especially in public parks,” she said.

Ed Jones, a member of the Conejo Recreation and Park District board of directors, wrote on his Facebook page, “Such a shame that this symbol of hate would appear in one of our parks.”

Anti-Semitic graffiti discovered in West Los Angeles references Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman's portrayal of Jackie Kennedy. Photo by Jennie Fahn via Next Door

Anti-Semitic graffiti discovered in West Los Angeles references Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie Kennedy. Photo by Jennie Fahn via Next Door

The incident followed a mid-December instance of an anti-Semitic scrawl discovered in West Los Angeles, near Temple Isaiah. The phrase, “Why is Jackie O being played by an Israeli Jew?” — a reference to Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie Kennedy in the recent film, “Jackie” — was discovered at a bus stop on a poster of the film “Assassin’s Creed.” A slashed-through Jewish star appears next to the scrawl.

Los Angeles’ ADL Associate Regional Director Ariella Schusterman said the West L.A. incident was “taken care of pretty quickly.”

Both incidents were documented via the neighborhood-centric social network app Nextdoor, which provides a platform for residents to describe positive and negative activity in their respective neighborhoods.

In separate interviews, Schusterman and Silverman said they appreciated people using Nextdoor to document instances of hate but also reminded people it is important to inform local law enforcement agencies and report them to the ADL, which compiles a record of reported hate incidents and crimes.

“Obviously we want people to call us when we have anti-Semitic incidents or crimes,” Schusterman said, “or to call the police.”

Two hate crimes in Los Angeles spur strong Jewish response


Two hate crime incidents involving spray-painted, anti-Semitic graffiti occurred within the span of less than a week earlier this month — one at Adat Shalom and the other at Pacific Palisades Charter High School. 

On March 9, synagogue leaders at Adat Shalom, a West Los Angeles Conservative congregation, discovered the word “Nazi” spray-painted in two places on the synagogue’s exterior walls. 

And on March 13, the discovery of graffiti disparaging Jews as well as Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and gays at Palisades Charter High School and on adjacent city property shook up the local community to such a degree that hundreds of people responded on March 14 in protest. 

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has identified a suspect in its investigation of the first incident, although no arrest had been made as of press time, according to LAPD Det. Robyn Salazar. Meanwhile, police have arrested two teenage Palisades Charter High School students believed to be responsible for the tagging at the school and surrounding area, according to Los Angeles School Police Department (LASDP) Sgt. Cheron Bartee. LAPD declined to provide the name of either suspect.

The arrest of the teenager — whom police declined to name — followed a peaceful demonstration at the school that drew hundreds of participants, said Bartee, who is Jewish. She described Monday’s protest, which was covered in various media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, as “300 peaceful protestors voicing their concerns about racism.”

Bartee said there is the possibility that more arrests in connection with the Palisades incident will follow. 

“[The suspect] admitted to spray-painting these racial slurs at night. And he claims there are two additional suspects outstanding,” she said. 

The vandalism, Bartee said, “had stuff against Jews, Black and Hispanic people,” as well as Asians and the LGBT community.

Matt Davidson, executive director at Kehillat Israel, a Reconstructionist synagogue located about a half-mile from the school, said the temple alerted its community about what took place at the school via a mass email with the subject line: “No tolerance for hate.” The synagogue, in response to the incident, increased its security, he said. 

“We’re just going to be extra vigilant, making sure we’re secure and safe here, like we always are,” he said. 

Kehillat Israel board of trustees member Laurie Haller was involved with an effort to clean up the spray-painted words in the Palisades, according to Davidson. 

“We sent [the email] out yesterday morning,” Davidson said. “I was hesitant at first because I didn’t want to create more [concern]. I want to make sure our congregation feels safe and secure, and I didn’t want to be alarmist, but we wanted to commend Laurie for being quick to act and make the statement that there is no tolerance for that.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), meanwhile, was notified of both incidents, according to its regional director, Amanda Susskind. She praised the response of law enforcement with regards to both incidents, and she said the ADL is planning to offer educational resources to students at Pacific Palisades in response to what took place there. 

“One of the short-term responses seems to be a rally,” Susskind said, referring to the demonstration that unfolded Monday at the school. “In the longer term, we will be providing resources for training — resources and assembly programs.”

Bartee, who has been working with LASDP for 17 years, said she is disappointed by what occurred in the Palisades and hopes it was caused not by hate but by immaturity. 

“It’s never nice to see these kinds of things. Unfortunately, with this, I think a lot of times the kids are just being immature and stupid and aren’t meaning to be this hateful. I think it’s just being stupid and immature,” the LASDP sergeant said. “I’m hoping.” 

Adat Shalom Rabbinic Intern Nolan Lebovitz, who is the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, said the incident at Adat Shalom reinforced the fact that anti-Semitism still exists, even in unexpected places.

“As a grandchild of four survivors of the Shoah, it is shocking and horrifying to see the word ‘Nazi’ painted on the walls of our beloved Adat Shalom Synagogue. At the same time, it is a reminder that hate in general, and anti-Semitism in particular, is still a reality — even in West L.A. in 2016,” Lebovitz said in an email. “I am proud to say that the Jewish People is stronger than graffiti, our Torah is more powerful than hate. I invite the entire Jewish community to join with Adat Shalom and live their Judaism proudly in defiance of such hatred.”

The graffiti at both locations has since been cleaned up. 

“We wanted to get rid of it,” Adat Shalom President Liz Bar-El said, “and move on.”

East Carolina U. students accused of spray-painting swastika


Two East Carolina University students were arrested for allegedly spray-painting a swastika on the door of a Jewish student’s apartment.

The swastika was discovered Wednesday by the Jewish woman in a private complex, The Landing, which caters to college students on several campuses in the Greenville, N.C., area.

The accused – Timothy Gill Jr., 21, and Brandon Friedhoff, 20 – are acquaintances of the woman, according to WNCN, a North Carolina television station.

They are facing charges of ethnic intimidation, injury to real property and first-degree trespass, WNCN reported. If found guilty, the men also could be banned from the apartment complex and expelled from the university.

“It needs to be known that our community will not stand for any type of discrimination and harassment,” Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden said.

Spate of anti-Jewish, anti-Israel graffiti blankets Rome


Italian police are investigating a widespread spate of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel graffiti in Rome that local media speculate could be the joint work of left-wing and right-wing extremists.

Dozens of swastikas, slogans and posters were found spray-painted or plastered on walls and shop windows Monday in various parts of the city — as many as 70 or more in all.

They included slogans such as “Dirty Jews,” “Jews your end is near,” “Out with Zionists” and “Israel executioner.”

Some posters bore a swastika and the phrase “Anne Frank storyteller.” Other posters, apparently put up by a neo-fascist group, showed a Celtic cross and a Palestinian throwing a rock at an Israeli tank.

Jewish leaders, and local and state officials, strongly condemned the vandalism.

Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino called the affair shameful and “an insult to all Romans.” He expressed solidarity with the Jewish community, saying “Rome wants and must be the capital of dialogue and peace, and not the terrain of barbarism.” Interior Minister Angelino Alfano promised “maximum” efforts by law enforcement to identify the culprits and curb further outbreaks.

Painting love over hate on vandalized Workmen’s Circle mural


An organization that fosters Jewish identity has attempted to turn a recent act of vandalism into an opportunity for bridge-building between Jews and Muslims. 

Last weekend, the SoCal Arbeter Ring/Workmen’s Circle added the Arabic word “Salaam” — and its Hebrew and English equivalents, “Shalom” and “Peace,” to a vandalized mural that covers its home in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. 

The organization’s addition to its 1998 mural is a response to incidents that took place on Feb. 6. That’s when vandals spray-painted the words “Free Palestine!!!!” onto the mural. Hours later, another set of vandals responded, in turn, by turning the word “Free” into an expletive

The graffiti remained until its recent removal by the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works Office. An ongoing investigation by police has not identified any suspects. 

[Related: Graffiti at Workmen’s Circle]

In the wake of the incidents, Workmen’s Circle denounced the vandals in a public statement. Its district committee voted to make the addition to the mural out of the belief that the best way to respond to acts of hate is with compassion.

Eric Gordon, a district committee member, said, “It often does take an extreme act, a catastrophe, an accident, to awaken you to needs you didn’t think you had before. … What are we going to do? Respond to an act of hate by saying “F— Palestine” on the mural? So, we’re trying to be responsive.

“We agree with ‘Free Palestine.’ It’s not the best way to express it. We are sorry and angry that they chose that way to express it, but they do have a point,” he said.

The wall-sized mural itself — titled “A shenere un besere velt” (a Yiddish phrase meaning “A more beautiful and better world”) — depicts cultural, biblical and historical imagery. The imagery includes a menorah, Israelites wandering in the desert, a young girl waving Israeli and American flags, and more.


SoCal Arbeter Ring/Workmen's Circle summoned muralist Eliseo Silva (below) to make an addition to its mural. Photo by Ryan Torok.

For the addition, the group summoned the mural’s original artist, Eliseo Silva. A non-Jewish, Filipino muralist and Los Angeles resident, Silva worked all weekend long on the mural, painting the new words onto three leaves. He also painted an olive tree.

It’s a minor addition to a mural extending the length of a 60-foot wall, but Gordon said the images send a message to the community that the only sensible way to respond to incitement is by being open to dialogue. 

It also represents a reunion between Silva and Gordon, who conceived of the mural when he took over the organization in 1995. 

“It doesn’t seem like a long time ago,” Silva said of when Gordon first commissioned him to work on the mural 16 years ago.

On March 15, wearing an apron and gesturing with fingertips covered in paint, Silva said he’s changed more than the mural. 

“I think I’ve probably gained 70 pounds,” he said. “Eric looks the same. He hasn’t changed.”

Yeshiva student admits to writing anti-Semitic graffiti


A Long Island yeshiva student was charged with repeatedly scrawling anti-Semitic graffiti inside a commuter train station.

Jonathan Schuster, 18, a senior at Priority-1: Torah Academy of Lawrence-Cedarhurst, in Cedarhurst, N.Y.,was charged with the crimes on Thursday

He admitted to using black marker to write anti-Semitic statements, often including expletives, on eight occasions since December 2012, police told Newsday.

The boy, who lives in Far Rockaway, Queens, has no previous criminal record. The vandalism, at the Cedarhurst Long Island Railroad Station, mostly occurred at night, with the graffiti consisting of obscenities directed at Orthodox Jews scrawled on train platform billboards or station signs. On one occasion, a swastika was etched into the wall of a platform shelter.

Priority-1: Torah Academy of Lawrence-Cedarhurst bills itself as “the pioneering leader in alternative yeshiva high schooling to service capable and gifted young men whose needs are not being met by the traditional yeshiva system.”

The school “has led countless at-risk teenage boys to abandon self-destructive behavior and become true bnei Torah and observant Jews,” the yeshiva’s website says.

Israel launches crackdown on pro-settler vandals


Israel announced a crackdown on Monday against Jewish ultranationalists who vandalize Palestinian property, saying they were tantamount to terrorists and their attacks could fan sectarian violence.

The move followed the arrest of a 22-year Israeli from an Orthodox Jewish town near Tel Aviv for the vandalism of a Christian monastery in the West Bank last year. The attack was carried out in solidarity with hardline Jewish settlers.

Graffiti left on the 19th-century Latrun Monastery referred to Migron, an unauthorized settler outpost evacuated by the Israeli government. The words “Jesus is a monkey” were also daubed on the wall in Hebrew, and the monastery's doors torched.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said those suspected in so-called “Price Tag” incidents would now be subject to measures such as longer detentions and denial of access to lawyers while under interrogation – measures akin to those used by Israel's security services in tackling Palestinian militants.

“Price Tag perpetrators' conduct is identical to the conduct of modern terrorist groups, including ideological inspiration and covert action,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“Its main objective is to prevent the legitimate Israeli government from carrying out moves, whether of state or regarding law enforcement, and to sow fear among the nation's leaders of making decisions of one kind or another.”

The ultranationalists have desecrated mosques, torched cars and chopped down trees belonging to Palestinians, saying they sought to make the government “pay” for curbing unauthorized West Bank settlement

They have occasionally hit Israeli army facilities, churches or Arab sites inside the Jewish state. But Israeli authorities are most troubled by the possibility that Palestinian victims could lash out in reprisal, upending the West Bank's relative calm at a time of peacemaking stalemate.

“It is our duty to toughen up the penalties against these miscreants, because this activity has catastrophic potential,” the statement quoted Yaalon as saying. “We must fight an all-out war against them, with minimum tolerance and maximum means.”

IMPUNITY

Palestinians, who exercise limited autonomy in the West Bank under 1993 interim peace deals, have long complained settlers enjoy impunity under Israeli military control of the territory.

Israel's Shin Bet security service says dozens of suspects have been arrested. But convictions have been rare, a fact Israeli officials blame on suspects' secrecy and withstanding of pressure to confess under interrogation.

Settler leaders have disavowed the Price Tag perpetrators, many of whom are self-styled “Hilltop Youths,” zealots in their teens or 20s who spurn the authority of the secular state.

In one incident last August, six Palestinians were hurt when their taxi was firebombed. Several Israeli minors from a settlement were arrested but released for lack of evidence.

Writing by Dan Williams, Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Angus MacSwan

San Fernando Valley home vandalized with neo-Nazi graffiti


Last Sunday, a Jewish home in the San Fernando Valley was vandalized with neo-Nazi graffiti, according to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

“It’s being investigated as a vandalism case,” said LAPD West Valley Detective Jordane.

Currently, the LAPD does not have any suspects, she said.

The painted symbols included a backwards swastika and were drawn onto a wall surrounding the property of the home of a Jewish family that is located directly across the street from Congregation Bais Mordechai, a Tarzana synagogue.

Police believe the incident occurred sometime between 2 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. on Sunday.

The incident has shaken up residents in the neighborhood, including congregants of the synagogue, according to Rabbi Moshe Kamionski, founder of Congregation Bais Mordechai, who said an Iranian Jewish-family that attends his synagogue owns the targeted home.

“This was designed to intimidate and to scare, and to inflict fear on people who want to assemble and pray to the Almighty,” Mordechai said.

The graffiti also included the abbreviation “WP;” which likely means “white power”; the word, “woods,” which can be used as shorthand for the skinhead symbol of the peckerwood and a Celtic cross drawn inside of a circle, which is a “possible anarchist symbol or suggestion of affiliation with local racist skinheads, [but] not necessarily neo-Nazi,” according to the ADL.

The ADL assisted law enforcement with the interpretation of the symbols.

Anyone with information pertaining to the incident can contact LAPD Detective Jordane at (818) 374-7785.

Fewer anti-Semitic attacks recorded in Switzerland last year


The number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Switzerland has dropped from 36 in 2011 to 25 incidents last year.

The figures were reported in the annual analysis on anti-Semitism by the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities. The report states that unlike the previous year, no physical attacks against Jews were recorded in Switzerland in 2012 and that hostilities in Israel did not serve as “trigger events,” as has been observed in previous years.

Most incidents last year were hate mail cases or graffiti, the report said. Online content was not included in the report.

Monitor reports showed a 58 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in France in 2012 and a 30 percent increase in Belgium, which watchdog groups said were linked to a wave of attacks that followed the slaying of four Jews at a school in Toulouse by a radical Muslim.

Peace Now leader Hagit Ofran’s home threatened in graffiti attack


The home of Peace Now Settlement Watch director Hagit Ofran was vandalized with threatening graffiti.

“Hagit you’re dead” and “Kahane was right” were spray-painted in and around Ofran’s Jerusalem apartment building, with the latter referring to slain Kach party leader Meir Kahane. The graffiti was discovered Monday morning.

Last November, vandals attacked her home with graffiti including swastikas and the words “Rabin is waiting for you,” referring to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995. Her apartment also was targeted last September.

Polish authorities unclear if graffiti meant as anti-Semitic attack


Polish authorities are unclear if graffiti painted on a gallery near Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts not far from an opening of an Israeli photographer’s exhibition was meant as an anti-Semitic attack.

“I Miss You Jew” was painted on a gallery owned by Polish businessman Wojciech Fibak late Monday night, according to Haaretz. Nearby, an exhibit by Israeli artist Diti Ravner, the wife of Israeli envoy to Poland Zvi Ravner, was held. Ravner’s photos feature Jewish life in Warsaw today.

Authorities are investigating the case.

Two similar inscriptions were painted on other art-related buildings in the city on the same night, according to the newspaper.

Yad Vashem hit with anti-Israel, anti-Semitic graffiti


Vandals spray painted anti-Israel and anti-Semitic graffiti at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.

The slogans written in Hebrew, including “Hitler, thank you for the Holocaust,” “If Hitler did not exist, the Zionists would have invented him,” and “The war of the Zionist regime is not the war of the Jewish people,” were mostly found at the entrance to the museum and concentrated near the Warsaw Ghetto Square and the memorial to the deportees.

Police reportedly believe that haredi Jewish extremists, who are opposed to the state of Israel, believing that it should not be established until the arrival of the Messiah, are responsible for the crime, which occurred early Monday morning.

Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev, who is a Holocaust survivor, called the vandalism a “blatant act of hatred of Israel and Zionism,” and said that it “crosses a red line.”

Suspect arrested in Peace Now bomb threat


Jerusalem police arrested a suspect in the vandalism and bomb threat at the city’s offices of Peace Now.

The suspect—a 21-year-old from Mevasseret Zion, a Jerusalem neighborhood—had been arrested previously for threatening the head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, and is believed to have been involved in other acts of vandalism, according to Ynet.

On Sunday evening, police evacuated the two-story building housing the Jerusalem offices of Peace Now after a man speaking into the building’s intercom system reportedly said that the building would soon blow up.

The words “price tag” were discovered spray-painted on the side of the building the same evening. A Star of David had been spray-painted on the building a few days ago.

Price tag refers to the strategy that extremist settlers have adopted to exact a price in attacks on Palestinians and Arabs in retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions or for Palestinian attacks on Jews.

Police also are investigating whether the suspect was involved in the attack Monday night on the home of Hagit Ofran, the director of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch project. Graffiti painted on her building and in the stairwell included swastikas and the words “Rabin is waiting for you,” referring to the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that took place in November 1995. Other epithets referred to the recent razing of structures in two West Bank outposts.

Arab restaurant torched in Jaffa


An Arab-owned restaurant in Jaffa was torched and graffiti pointing to a price-tag attack was spray-painted on its walls.

The Abu al-Abed restaurant, which has been in existence since 1949, was set ablaze early Monday morning. It serves Palestinian and Lebanese food.

The words “price tag” and “Kahane was right” were spray-painted on the building. The latter invective refers to the late Kach leader Meir Kahane, who advocated the transfer of Arabs out of Israel. Price tag refers to the strategy that extremist settlers have adopted to exact a price in attacks on Palestinians and Arabs in retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions or for Palestinian attacks on Jews.

Police investigating the incident told Ynet that they are not ready to say it was politically motivated.

In recent weeks, incidents labeled as price tag include the cutting down of 20 olive trees belonging to an Arab family in eastern Jerusalem, the desecration of two cemeteries in Jaffa and the torching of a mosque in a Bedouin town in northern Israel.

Also Sunday, the tomb of Elazar Hakohen, the son of Aaron, was discovered desecrated. The tomb, which is located near the West Bank village of Hawarta and is a popular destination for Jewish worshipers, was painted with graffiti including drawings of rocket launchers, and the headstone was shattered.

Meanwhile, Israeli police and soldiers on Sunday demolished four structures under construction in an outpost near the Bat Ayin settlement in Gush Etzion.

Nazis in the canyon


Go past Whoopi Goldberg’s house in Pacific Palisades, veer left at Bill Cosby’s, then curve your way around Steven Spielberg’s compound.

Now you’re almost there. Hike along a winding fire road up, up, up into the Santa Monica Mountains, then gaze down into Rustic Canyon. Lush and green, this once was the home of actor and humorist Will Rogers.

But that’s not the only bit of history that draws people here. They also come for the Nazis.

For decades, locals have told stories about what might have been going on down in the canyon in the years leading up to World War II. All of the elements for a best-selling novel are present: a millionaire heiress, a mysterious building project of gigantic proportions, a charismatic Nazi and whispers of occult activities that included plans for a government takeover.

Local historian Randy Young, 57, probably is more familiar than anyone else with the tales of what he is convinced was a Nazi compound, whose ruins still exist today. He and his late mother, Betty Lou Young, investigated the stories while doing research for two books, “Rustic Canyon and the Story of the Uplifters” and “Pacific Palisades: Where the Mountains Meet the Sea.”

“We always heard a rumor about Nazis in the canyon,” the former commercial photographer said. “And we thought, ‘Well, you know, you have bad neighbors, but are they really Nazis?’ ”

In this case, years of extensive research and interviews suggest that the answer is yes, that from 1933 to 1945, a group of up to 40 Nazi sympathizers attempted to create their own self-sufficient utopia in one of the most beautiful, secluded parts of Los Angeles.

The gate to Murphy Ranch with its crumbling flagstone wall still welcomes visitors to what’s left of the compound.

Here are the facts as Young relates them:

In 1933, records indicate that a Jessie Murphy acquired 50 acres of canyon land. Her daughter, Winona — heiress to a thumb tack-manufacturing fortune — and son-in-law, Norman Stephens, later took up residence at the location.

There they began construction on a $4 million stronghold, which was to be — according to Young — a secret Nazi compound, complete with a 20,000-gallon fuel tank, 500,000-gallon water tank, and a power station large enough to support a small town. Later plans that were never carried out called for a four-story, 22-bedroom mansion designed by the noted black architect Paul Williams.

“Everything was really weird about this. The neighbors were a little freaked out about it,” Young said. Still, “Until the war broke out, it was just eccentric people.”

But there was more to the story. Collected oral history suggests that Stephens fell under the influence of a German referred to as “Herr Schmidt.” He conducted séances and convinced the couple that he had supernatural powers. When Nazi Germany defeated the West in the war, he prophesied, anarchy would engulf the United States. The couple’s Murphy Ranch, as it was known, would be a self-sufficient community from which the group of Nazi sympathizers they had gathered around them could emerge and restore order.

Young said that based on eyewitness accounts of what group members wore and other testimony that provided bits of information, he is confident they were associated with the Silver Shirts, a pro-Nazi organization that had thousands of members across the country. No one seems to know anything about Schmidt, other than that he supposedly was arrested following the attack on Pearl Harbor, effectively ending the activities at the compound in 1945.

While there is limited tangible evidence to act as proof, Young said the puzzle pieces all fit together. And he’s not surprised that those most directly involved weren’t more forthcoming.

“People don’t advertise that they were Nazis,” he said.

Nestled in Rustic Canyon, the power station at Murphy Ranch is now empty and covered in ever-changing graffiti.

What was going on at Murphy Ranch may have worried people at the time — including a Jewish neighbor who told Young, “I kept a loaded gun wherever I went,” and construction workers who were reportedly baffled by the scope of the building project — but the supposed Nazi stronghold doesn’t look so scary now.

The power station, with its foot-thick walls of cast concrete, is empty and covered in wild, psychedelic graffiti that changes from week to week. The tall fuel tank behind it more closely resembles a giant, crushed beer can after a wildfire destroyed it in 1978.

The huge cistern meant to collect water now holds only charred debris and more painted evidence of vandals. While the imposing iron gate at the main entrance remains intact, the elegant, flagstone wall attached to it is reduced to rubble in one part.

As for the living quarters above a garage — one of the only habitable structures in the Stephenses’ grand plans to come to fruition — there is nothing more than rusted piles of twisted metal, another casualty of a canyon fire.

These days, the scariest thing about the site is getting there. From the Sullivan Fire Road, near Casale Road, it’s a 2.5-mile hike. One route requires taking more than 500 narrow steps down the canyon’s steep slopes, past terraced gardens the Stephenses created to grow fruit trees to feed their clandestine community.

Not that any of this keeps people away. It never did.

In 1948, the property was sold to the Huntington Hartford Foundation and was used as part of an artists’ colony. Later, it was bought by the city of Los Angeles. These days, the allure of shadowy ruins and picture-perfect scenery — there are lovely sycamore trees and a year-round creek — continues to draw visitors.

Santa Monica resident Susan Suntree, author of “Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California,” has made the trip to the remains of Murphy Ranch many times.

“For years and years, I’ve hiked around there and knew the stories. It’s really creepy and fascinating,” she said. “It always intrigued me. You can’t help but want to populate it with your imagination. What was going on here?”

The truth is that no one knows all the details for sure, but as more bits of information emerge, the story continues to unfold. 

For a local historian like Young, that’s part of the fun.

Calif. Messianic pastor’s home vandalized with swastika


The home of a Messianic pastor in California was vandalized with a swastika.

A swastika and the word “Jew” were painted on the Hemet, Calif., home that Pastor Michael Rose shares with his wife and children, The Press-Enterprise newspaper reported.

Police are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime. Rose, pastor at the Light of Love Chapel, discovered the vandalism on Thursday morning.

Self-identified Messianic Jews embrace Christian theology and adopt some Jewish practices. Some are of Jewish ancestry, though many are not. Jewish groups have objected to the movement’s use of terms such as “Messianic Judaism” as misleading.

After anti-semitic vandalism, life goes on at Calabasas High


Read more on this story here.

On April 27, just hours after three Calabasas High School students had been arrested in connection with the anti-Semitic and racist graffiti scrawled on their school’s campus late on the night of April 22, life at this well-groomed, suburban public school seemed to be back to almost normal.

When school employees arrived in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 23, they found the paved walkway between the 11th-graders’ parking lot and the school campus covered with swastikas, along with various other walls and lockers. But by nightfall that same day, the only evidence that remained was a few spots of faded concrete.

On April 26, three male 11th-graders, who have been described as “4.0 students,” confessed the vandalism to investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Their names have not been released because they are minors. After their arrests, the three were released into their parents’ custody.

A spokesman said that the Sheriff’s Department will push for hate crime enhancements in addition to felony vandalism charges against the alleged vandals, which are expected to be filed shortly, once the investigation is completed.

Local news outlets have devoted significant coverage to the incident. A TV news van sat parked in front of the school for much of the afternoon on April 27, right beside the site of the school’s new $18 million performing arts center, which is expected to be completed by next year.

But while some on campus expressed anger at the students believed to be behind the graffiti, by the afternoon of April 27, a calm atmosphere prevailed at Calabasas High School. For every angry student or parent, Jewish or otherwise, there seemed to be equal numbers who seemed unfazed.

Alan Bell, a Jewish father of an 11th-grader, sat in his pickup truck, waiting in the carpool line. “I think she was concerned, but I don’t think she was bothered,” Bell said of his daughter.

“This has happened before,” Bell added, referring to a January 2010 incident when a Jewish student at Calabasas High School found a swastika carved into the hood of his car. Nobody was found in connection with that case.

“As a student body, we’ve really come closer together,” Josh Levin, an 11th-grader who was recently elected student body president, said of the aftermath of the vandalism.

“There was a point when students were very angry,” Levin said. “There were petitions online to have physical retribution and things like that, but there were a bunch of student leaders who said this isn’t a good idea. It’s not good to fight violence with violence.”

Alan Levy, a Jewish 11th-grader, seemed more surprised than distressed. “It’s pretty ridiculous,” he said. “I don’t know why anybody would do this.”

The “why” question remains mostly unanswered.

Principal C.J. Foss said that the students who vandalized their school were angrier with the school in general than they were at members of one specific ethnic or religious group. “They felt like they had been mistreated, that they had been insulted, and they wanted to hurt back the school,” she said.

The graffiti included racist remarks against blacks and Latinos, and swastikas, which are often considered to be equal-opportunity offenders. Nevertheless, the scrawlings — which included the names of four Jewish students in the 11th grade as well as the names of two 11th-grade teachers — appeared to have been particularly anti-Semitic.

Foss said that was due to Calabasas High School’s large Jewish population. Estimating that at least 60 percent of the school’s students are Jewish, Foss said that the alleged vandals focused their anger on “high-profile” Jewish students.

“One of them said he didn’t even know one of the boys” whose name was included in the graffiti, Foss said, “but he knew that he was the president of the Jewish club. And if the perception of the school is that this is a Jewish school, and you want to hurt them, I think that’s why they chose the Nazi flag and those symbols.”

Members of the media, law enforcement and school administration have said nothing publicly about the three 11th-graders. But on April 27, rumors were circulating among the students at Calabasas High about which of their classmates had confessed to the vandalism.

“My kids are saying that by next week we’ll know who they are, because we’ll know who isn’t showing up,” Sheri Salimi, the mother of two Calabasas High School students, said.

According to a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Department, when the three alleged vandals confessed, they told investigators that the students whose names they had scrawled across the walkway had been “picking on” them throughout the school year.

But those who knew the students whose names were mentioned in the graffiti didn’t believe that was the case.

“I know many of the kids personally, and to say that they were really harassing other students or things like that would be the biggest shocker in my mind,” Levin said.

Levin was sitting in the outdoor lunch area at Calabasas High School on April 27, taking a short break from his late-afternoon class in broadcast media. Behind him, a dozen girls on the school’s dance team huddled around a picnic table eating a pizza, laughing.

“There’s going to be a high school bully anywhere you go,” Levin said. “I guarantee you, all the students named on that list are not the typical high school bully.”

Principal Foss sees this as a reminder of how important engaging students on the fringes can be. “We all spend a lot of time on the campus,” she said, “and I purposely try to go up to the kid that’s sitting by himself, engage him in a conversation. It’s something I’m very concerned about and spend a lot of time with.”

Considering how some disaffected students at other schools have expressed their frustration in recent years, Foss said she has thought that Calabasas got lucky in at least one way: The students used cans of spray paint instead of guns to send their hate-filled messages.

“It has occurred to me,” Foss said, her voice dropping to a whisper. “And I have heard that comment from students.”

Vandals attack Seattle-area Jewish high school


A Jewish high school in Washington State was defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti.

The epithets in orange, blue and gray paint on the Northwest Yeshiva High School on Mercer Island included swastikas and references to gas chambers, the Seattle Times reported. The attack occurred late on Sept. 16 and was discovered the following morning, on the eve of Yom Kippur.

The graffiti covered most of the building’s outer wall, including on the second floor. Neighborhood residents helped the school to clean off the graffiti before Yom Kippur services were held in the school’s sanctuary.

Police took the school’s security tapes in an attempt to identify the vandals.

“It’s a kick in the gut,” Rabbi Yechezkel Kornfeld told the Seattle Times. “I’ve been here for 35 years, and … we’ve never had an incident like this. Whoever it is, I hope they eventually realize what they did and change their ways.”

Canadian teen wanted for anti-Semitic graffiti


Calgary police have issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for an 18-year-old male over a slew of spray-painted anti-Semitic messages.

The racist graffiti on mailboxes, signs at synagogues and a memorial for Holocaust survivors, which surfaced last November, included swastikas and the words “kill Jews” and “six million more.”

The teen is facing charges of mischief to property, as well as hate-related charges of mischief to a place of religious worship and inciting public hatred.

Canadian youth protection laws prohibit naming the suspect, who was 17 when the offenses occurred.

Police believe the teen may have ties to local racist groups.

“We believe that he is involved with racist groups within this city,” Police Supt. Trevor Daroux told the Calgary Herald. “I won’t say which one because I won’t give them the credibility.”

The Calgary Jewish Community Council praised the police for their diligence in the case.

“These charges send a very strong message that Calgary does not tolerate anti-Semitism or racism of any kind,” Adam Singer, the council’s vice president, told CBC News.

“Jew” Graffiti Confounds Experts


Law enforcement officials and hate crime watchdogs have been confounded over the last few months by a spate of graffiti with the word “Jew” marking multiple locations in the Fairfax area, near Hollywood and on La Cienega Boulevard near the 10 Freeway.

The word “Jew” or “Jewish,” sometimes accompanied by the letters “TMA,” have been spray-painted on lampposts, freeway overpasses, walls and dumpsters, sometimes alone and sometimes alongside other tagging. No anti-Semitic messages or symbols accompany the word.

The six or seven locations of the graffiti also seem unconnected to anything Jewish, according to Ariella Loewenstein, associate regional director of Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Southwest office. ADL is working with LAPD Wilshire Division to funnel information from the flurry of calls they are getting reporting the graffiti. They are also working with the city to get the tags removed as quickly as possible.

Detective Ronald Cade, detective supervisor of LAPD Wilshire Division, confirmed the reports, but said the LAPD could not provide details on the ongoing investigation.
Loewenstein said she is not aware of any leads regarding who is doing this tagging, why, or what it means.

“It’s just a very weird phenomenon,” Loewenstein said, noting that anti-Semitic graffiti typically include swastikas or violent language, or might be on a synagogue or Jewish cemetery. “Why pick that one word to spray paint, and leave it at that? Why in these areas, and on these specific things? … It could be random, but when it gets to be this many, that makes it a little less random.”

Loewenstein said no connection had been drawn between the graffiti and threats to Jews scrawled last month on the bathroom wall at Hamilton High School, just blocks away from where the word “Jew” was spray painted on the low brick wall that surrounds the Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center on La Cienega Boulevard.

Anyone who spots the graffiti is encouraged to take photos of it and call the ADL (

Anti-Semitic taggers strike in San Fernando Valley


Spray-painted swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti over a wide area in upscale neighborhoods of Encino and Tarzana are being investigated as possible hate crimes by Los Angeles police.

Early Thursday morning, residents discovered the vandalism, which included such insults as “F… Jews” and “Burn Jews,” painted in front of four homes along a two-mile stretch of walls along Wells Drive, between Tampa and Louise avenues.At this point, police are not certain of the perpetrators’ motivation and one of the more heavily targeted homes is owned by a non-Jewish family.

Judy Silver, a neighbor whose home was not affected, told TV station KCAL9, “I’m frightened. I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times or if it’s just kids, because we’re surrounded by two schools.”

Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that her office had received a large volume of calls by citizens expressing their outrage.

ADL associate director Matthew Friedman said that “A hate crime like this targets not just those who live in the home, it targets the entire community.”Police request anyone with possible information to contact West Valley detectives Foster Rains or Andrew Purdy at (818) 374-7730.

vandalized wall

Briefs: Sheriff wants to prosecute YULA girls after soccer brawl; Graffiti targets Jews in Beverlywo


Sheriff wants to prosecute Yeshiva Girls soccer players for brawling after lost game

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is planning to ask the district attorney to prosecute a YULA student and the girls soccer team coach.

The request stems from a brawl that occurred on Feb. 5 after the Yeshiva University Girls High School of Los Angeles lost to Avalon High in a girls’ soccer game on Catalina Island, according to Avalon Mayor Robert Kennedy.

A team member and spectator from Avalon High are also being referred to the DA’s office, said Kennedy, who conferred with Avalon Sheriff’s station commander Lt. Pat Hunter.

According to YULA principal Rabbi Yosef Furman, as the YULA girls were leaving the field, student spectators from Avalon attacked the girls, knocking one in the head, putting another in a headlock and pulling her hair and punching her in the stomachFurman called the possible actions against the YULA player and coach “complete nonsense.” He said the assaults against the YULA girls, which were unprovoked. “We have witnesses who say that our students acted appropriately and our coach acted professionally.”

No one was seriously injured in the melee, and no accounts of racial or religious taunting have been confirmed.

Both sides agree that the game got ugly and physical, with the crowd of about 100 spectators riling the Avalon team for even more aggressive play.

Mayor Kennedy, who was not at the game, says his understanding is that both teams engaged in name-calling and rough play, but YULA counters that the taunting was one-sided.

After the post-game fracas, the YULA team sequestered itself in the visitors’ locker room with the help of Avalon school officials, and called the sheriff’s department. Officers arrived and escorted the team to the ferry landing, where sheriffs spent several hours interviewing team members, chaperones and YULA Coach Kat Gude, before the team traveled back to the mainland.

Five Avalon students were disciplined after the event, according to a spokesman for the Long Beach Unified School District. One ninth-grade team member was suspended for pushing and shoving; two 12th-grade girls, who were spectators at the event, were suspended for fighting; and an eighth-grade boy and a tenth-grade boy were barred from attending future soccer games.

YULA has canceled all further games with Avalon teams. In addition, YULA circulated a letter asking parents to send a message to Avalon that such conduct is reprehensible. It included phone numbers for city officials.

“The city of Avalon will more likely take action if they get the message that there could be negative repercussions to future tourism,” the letter stated.

Kennedy has received more than 30 phone calls — on his cell phone — from irate YULA parents. He said he is offended and upset by YULA’s sweeping condemnation of the city, especially before an investigation has been completed.

“The worst part of this whole thing is it takes two to tango — there are always two sides to a story. But it seems that the visiting team’s parents have already tried and convicted the Avalon kids that were involved,” the mayor said.

— Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor

Graffiti targets Jews in Beverlywood

Children and their parents walking to the West L.A. Castle Heights Elementary School on Tuesday morning saw a BMW spray-painted with the word “JEW” on its side. The car was parked on Castle Heights Place, just three houses down from the school.

The vehicle’s owners had learned about the damage at 2 a.m., when a neighborhood patrol officer informed them of the incident. Three other cars on nearby streets in the Beverlywood Homes Association neighborhood were reportedly also vandalized. Although his was the only vehicle to bear a reference to religion, the owner, who is Persian and asked that his name not be used, said another of the defaced vehicles’ owners belongs to his synagogue, Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel.

An officer from the Los Angeles Police Department took a report documenting the incident, and said it will be filed as a hate crime. He said the chances of catching the perpetrator were slim. Nevertheless, the officer called a supervisor, who also visited the scene.

“We take these things pretty seriously,” he said.

— Nancy Steiner, Contributing Writer

Super Sunday fundraising beats 2006 total

On Feb. 11, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ largest annual fundraiser known as Super Sunday raised $4.4 million, up from $4.2 million last year, according to Federation spokeswoman Deborah Dragon, Nearly 2,000 volunteers worked the phones at three locations, which received visits during the day from L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Controller Laura Chick, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and City Councilmember Jack Weiss.

About one-third of the money raised from the annual campaign goes for overseas allocations, with the bulk earmarked for Israel.

This year’s Super Sunday took place against the backdrop of Federation turmoil. Less than one month before the event, the Federation relieved its chief fundraiser, Craig Prizant, of his job.

No reason has been given for the departure of Prizant, who had worked closely with major donors.

Federation spokeswoman Dragon said that the mega-fundraiser is but the beginning of the organization’s annual campaign.

“The community still has great needs,” she said.

— Marc Ballon, Senior Writer

Pink Floyd’s Waters Caught Red-Handed


“No thought control.”

The famed lyrics from rock band Pink Floyd’s much beloved “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2” make for a powerful statement regardless of context. Scrawled last week in red paint on a concrete segment of Israel’s security fence in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem by Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters himself, though, the poignancy of the verse is undeniable.

Waters visited Israel to play a concert June 22 at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (literally Oasis of Peace), a cooperative Jewish-Palestinian Arab village between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Originally scheduled to perform at the much more mainstream Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv, Rogers moved the concert to the fields of Neve Shalom in response to pressure from pro-Palestinian musicians.

“I moved the concert to Neve Shalom as a gesture of solidarity with the voices of reason — Israelis and Palestinians seeking a non-violent path to a just peace between the peoples,” Waters said in a press release.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the concert in its makeshift venue drew more than 50,000 attendees and became the cause of one of Israel’s worst traffic jams to date. Waters performed the album “Dark Side of the Moon” in its entirety, along with many of Pink Floyd’s greatest hits, including “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” “Wish You Were Here” and the especially iconic “Another Brick in the Wall.”

“We need this generation of Israelis to tear down walls and make peace,” Waters told the audience before his post-midnight encore.

Waters’ performance received much acclaim in Israel, but it is his spray-painting stint at the security fence in the West Bank the day before the showcase that is making lasting waves there and abroad. The artist’s paint and pen additions to the already graffiti-laden wall marked Waters’ first stop after arriving in Israel. According to reporters present at the Palestinian town of Bethlehem when he made the markings, Waters likened the barrier to the Berlin Wall, adding that “it may be a lot harder to get this one down, but eventually it has to happen, otherwise there’s no point to being human beings.”

The musician’s deliberately provocative gesture prompted right-wing activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir to call for the artist’s detainment.

The pair submitted an accusation to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court June 23 alleging that Waters destroyed Israel Defense Forces property, according to Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Israeli authorities have not yet issued a response to the singer’s graffiti or to Marzel and Ben-Gvir’s retaliatory petition.

The fence that Waters dubbed “a horrible edifice” is being constructed in the hopes of preventing Palestinian suicide bombers and other attackers, who have killed and wounded hundreds of Israelis in the last six years, from entering Israel proper.

Additional information courtesy Jewish Telegraphic Agency, The Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz.

 

Shots Fired in Pico-Robertson


A gang-related drive-by shooting in the heart of the Pico-Robertson neighborhood late Sunday night left members of the Jewish community rattled and shocked.

No one was injured when 13-15 shots were fired on the 1600 block of Wooster Street, which is one block east of Robertson Boulevard and two blocks south of Pico Boulevard. The heavily Jewish neighborhood has seen a rise in gang activity recently, with graffiti tagging popping up on buildings and signs and a shooting at a neighborhood park last year.

Neighborhood activists organized a candlelight vigil at the park Thursday night, and are working to galvanize rabbis and members of the Jewish community to help stop the infiltration of violence.

For a full story and update, visit www.jewishjournal.com on Friday, June 9.

 

Paris Jewish Center Destroyed by Arson


A Jewish community center in Paris that serves kosher meals to the poor was set on fire early Sunday morning. The soup kitchen, a converted synagogue on the ground floor of a five-story residential building on the Rue Popincourt in Paris’ 11th District was partially destroyed. Anti-Semitic graffiti, Nazi symbols and references to Islam were found on the center’s walls.

The police found scrawled in red magic marker on the walls: “Without the Jews the world would be happy.”

“The fire department reacted quickly and the fire did not spread to the rest of the building — there could have been victims,” said Paris Police Chief Jean-Paul Proust.

“We know it’s criminal,” he added. “There are Nazi signs and anti-Semitic inscriptions all over the place.”

“France will act with extreme severity against these anti-Semitic arsonists,” said French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin while visiting the burned-out Jewish center.

President Jacque Chirac condemned “with force this unspeakable act” and expressed his solidarity with the personnel of the center and with the whole of the Jewish community.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë announced the allocation of 300,000 Euros to fortify Parisian Jewish schools, synagogues and nursing homes in Paris with video surveillance and concrete barriers.

A previously unknown group calling itself the Groupe des Partisans de la Guerre Sainte Islamique (Group of Partisans of the Holy Islamic War) took responsibility for the destruction of the Jewish center on an Islamist Web site: “A group of young moudjahadine [fighters] set fire to the Jewish temple in Paris at 0400 hours in response to racist acts commited by Jews in France against Islam and Muslims, and also to makr the 35th anniversary of the fire that ravaged the Al Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem,” a reference to an Aug. 21, 1969, fire set by an Australian Christian man that damaged a number of religious artifacts at the religious site.

Police and anti-terrorist officers are investigating the possibility that the perpetrators might be “more local” since the center was not one of the big, symbolic Jewish institutions in Paris.

An anti-terrorist officer told Reuters, “We’re on a more national track. This is not an emblematic target for a group based in Dubai or Egypt.”

Police are waiting for expert results from inspection of the crime scene.

Housed in a former synagogue once used by Greek and Turkish Jewish immigrants, the center has largely served as a social club and soup kitchen since the 1960s.

The center was not permanently guarded and there were no security cameras near the institution, a community security official said. A police night patrol that circulates in the area had passed the building some two hours before the attack but noticed nothing suspicious, he added.

On Tuesday, Israel demanded action from the French government.

CRIF, the Council of Jewish institutions of France expressed to the French government its demand “to put a stop to and condemn those responsible for this odious crime that disfigures France.”

Claude Zaffran, the rabbi of a synagogue around the corner from the community center, said he had the “impression of watching the same movie, the same story. More than just declarations and discussions, there should be some strong action to put an end to this succession of anti-Semitic acts. Without exaggerating, I can’t help but be afraid now.”

Zaffran told The Journal he was persuaded that the police are doing their job.

“We know they are doing the maximum. It’s at the judiciary level that we have a real problem. We have the laws and they are not applied. We are disgusted. What can we do? The judges are independent and they make their decisions. We don’t know what to do anymore,” he said.

Asked what he wanted to communicate to a concerned Jewish community in the United States, he answered with a tremor in his voice, “Don’t worry. Our enemies should know that if they think they are going to see the Jew of old, crouching in a corner, they are wrong. We will not lower our head, nor will we lower our arms. We will do what’s necessary.”

Jewish Telegraphic Agency contributed to this report.

Carole Raphaelle Davis lives in Los Angeles and Nice, France. She can be
reached at cdavis6029@aol.com.

Anti-Semitism Takes No Holiday in France


This is the season of le grand départ, when millions of French people leave for their summer vacation. Eighty-four percent of the French population will be going away on holiday this summer, and there are traffic jams hundreds of kilometers long from Paris to the Riviera.

But this year, as the masses pack their bathing suits, say au revoir to their co-workers and squeeze into crowded trains bound for the sea, Jew haters don’t seem to be taking a holiday.

To be fair, French President Jacques Chirac is doing what he can to fight anti-Semitism in France. He has expressed his "horror and dread" at the escalation of anti-Semitic acts.

But while American cyclist Lance Armstrong recently wowed the world by pedaling toward glory in the Tour de France, Chirac is backpedaling, after telling Ariel Sharon he was not welcome in France for calling on French Jews to leave France and come to Israel, because of "unleashed anti-Semitism."

The locals I spoke to in the Jewish quarters of Paris and Nice are tired of the polémique. Though some are leaving for Israel, most French Jews want to remain in France, where they have been for centuries, and they simply want the criminals who are attacking Jews to be caught and prosecuted.

As the temperature rises, so has the number of senseless, angry acts against French Jews. Following is an edited list of hostile acts against Jews in France this year since May 1:

May 1, Créteil: Stones were thrown at the Synagogue du 8 Mai 1945. Also, a rabbi going to synagogue with his son was accosted by two men. He was called a "dirty Jew" and a "dirty Rabbi Jacob." He was hit in the face and the stomach and threatened with death.

May 4, Metz: Two young Jews returning from soccer training were accosted by five young North Africans who yelled anti-Semitic insults and then beat them with iron bars. Two of the attackers were caught by police; one was released.

May 8, Paris, 10th District, Rue Saint-Martin: A young man of Maghrebian origin (the Maghreb consists of the former French colonies of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria in Muslim North Africa) standing with friends yelled anti-Semitic insults at some Jews going into a synagogue. He threw a bottle of beer at them, hitting a Jewish man in the head. The police chased the group but they got away.

May 10, Paris Metro: "Jews-Criminals-Nazis" was scrawled on the walls of a tunnel.

May 12, Aubervilliers: A Jewish man was parking his car near his office, where his brother was waiting for him. A man of Maghrebian origin called the brother a "dirty Jew" and said he would return with his family and 50 friends now that he knew where they worked.

The Jewish man parking his car was beaten and insulted by his attacker, who threatened, "I swear on the Koran of Mecca, I am going to kill you."

May 15, Yerres: "Death to Jews" was written on a car belonging to a Jew. The car has been regularly defaced and its wheels slashed in the garage of the victim’s home.

May 27, Paris, 19th District: Two young Jewish girls were surrounded by 14 boys and girls of North African origin who beat and insulted them.

May 30, Boulogne-Billiancourt: A rabbi’s 16-year-old son was returning home on his scooter with a friend, when a young man called him a "dirty Jew." Five other young men surrounded him, as his friend went for help. The rabbi’s son was beaten and kicked before escaping. He suffered multiple contusions and a broken rib.

June 4, Epinay-sur-Seine: A young man was stabbed in the chest. The assailant, who was waiting for him in front of a yeshiva, screamed "Allah ouakbar" as he attacked him with a butcher knife.

June 6, Paris, 19th District: A woman sitting at an outdoor café was called a "dirty Jew" by a man who punched her in the face and broke her nose.

June 6, Paris, 17th District: A 20-year-old woman walking toward the Metro station was accosted by seven youths of Maghrebian origin. They called her a "dirty Jew," spit on her and threw stones at her head. She escaped but was afraid to file a complaint.

June 7, Charenton-le-Pont: The doors of several apartments belonging to Jewish families were defaced with swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti: "Kill the Jews," "Death to the Jews," "We’re going to kill your race."

June 19, Saint-Ouen: Youths of Maghrebian origin hurled insults at a young Jewish girl walking with her brother. When the brother asked why they were bothering her, he was called a "dirty Jew" and hit behind the ear with a stick. The attacker received six days of detention.

June 27, Paris, Avenue Jean Jaures, 19th District: Two religious Jews and an 8-year-old boy were attacked by two men of Maghrebian origin on a motorcycle who drove onto the sidewalk. They hit the child in the face and chest.

June 29, Paris, Rue de Flandres, 19th District: High school boys leaving school were cut off on the road by a car. The men in the car were armed with sticks that had metal points and attacked the youths. Some of the boys escaped, but one was thrown against a wall and beaten unconscious, while they called him a "dirty Jew." The men fled when one of the boys screamed for help.

July 1, Amiens: Ten swastikas were found on the Rue des Juifs and in several other streets in the village of Arquèves.

July 1, Paris, Rue Buisson, 20th District: Scrawled on the walls of an apartment building was: "Dirty Jews, the whole building wants you to get out."

July 7, Bordeaux: "Kill the Jews" was written on the walls of a shop belonging to a Jewish family.

July 11, Paris, 20th District: A swastika and Star of David were drawn on a residential parking facility.

Aug. 10, Lyon: Vandals spray paint swastikas on 60 Jewish tombstones. The third such attack at the cemetary since May.

The information was supplied by CRIF.org and consistoire.org. The reports are compiled from the Service de Protection de la Communauté Juive, an organization that works with and shares information with the police.

Handwriting Is on the Wall in Italy


It’s midnight in Milan and we’re in a taxi racing through the streets to our hotel. We’ve just arrived from Los Angeles. We’re hazy and tired from a 24-hour trip that should have taken us 15 and from spending too many hours delayed in Heathrow Airport, with nothing to do but sit on our luggage.

Bleary eyed, we look out the window, watching Milan zip before us as our cabdriver navigates the curves and spokes of the city’s streets, which are all laid out in wagon wheels.

The streets are lined with trees and cars, mostly European-made Smart cars, the kind that look like they were guillotined on the assembly line into half a car before the foreman noticed. The buildings are pretty, wide fronted, about five-stories high, with curlicued plaster moldings and shutters framing the evenly spaced windows.

It all seems delightfully and authentically European until we look at the buildings at street level. From that vantage point they look like dreck. A confusing, messy, spray-painted mèlange of come-hither sex slogans, anarchy signs, people’s names, little drawings, indecipherable scribbles, political messages and four-letter words covers every single one.

The graffiti’s aesthetically offensive — Milan looks like a city that had its hem dragged through the mud — but moreover, a lot of it makes us uncomfortable, as equations like "Israel = Swastika," "Sharon = Nazi" or "Israel = Auschwitz" defile many of the buildings.

"It’s out of control," said Adeena, my friend and traveling companion, who works for Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss, as she stares in disbelief at the sheer quantity of the graffiti. "This would not go down in District 5."

But Italy is not Los Angeles’ Fifth District, and we noticed when we were there that Italians are more uptight about making sure their espresso is strong and hot than they are about cleaning obscene language off 500-year-old buildings.

Graffiti has a long history in Italy. Rumor has it that Italian graffiti originated sometime during the Renaissance, when Michelangelo stood outside the Palazzo Della Signoria (the Lordship’s Palace) in Florence, that city’s municipal building, and while listening to a political debate, idly carved a drawing of a man’s face into the building’s wall. It remains there still. Unfortunately, Michelangelo’s genius inspired thousands of far-less-talented louts to use public property as their own personal canvases.

Graffiti followed us everywhere in Italy. We saw it on the outer walls of churches in Rome, on apartment buildings in Florence and shop doors in Venice. We were simultaneously stunned by the beautiful buildings painted in festive pinks, oranges and greens and appalled by the demotic scribbling, which, in all fairness to it, was utterly democratic in the way that it didn’t discriminate and defaced every building new and old.

We also found that Italians had an ambivalent attitude toward the graffiti. There was not — to our eyes — any move to get it off the buildings, and several people we spoke to actually welcomed its presence.

"It is not the most civil way of expressing yourself," said Maria, our friend in Florence, who in her own bedroom has a poster of graffiti from the 1968 French student riots that reads, "Plutôt La Vie" (we prefer life).

"But it is an outlet for people to express discomforts that otherwise would not be able to be brought to the attention of people," she said. "Freedom of expression here is largely impeded. The prime minister owns a large percentage of the publishing media, and the graffiti remains a means of expressing uncomfortable sentiments."

But even in the climate where the young and liberal like Maria view painted obscenities as the voice of the public, the blustery ignorance of the anti-Israel graffiti seems like the modernized, more politically correct version of Italian anti-Semitism.

Like the graffiti on the Milan buildings, anti-Semitism was an ugly blot on the magnificent culture and history of Italy. For hundreds of years, the authorities in Italy basically wanted to get rid of the Jews. They taxed them as heavily as possible, herded them into ghettos and did their best to get them to convert to Christianity.

For the most part, it didn’t work. Jews thrived in Italy. They were bankers and merchants, and they built huge synagogues with stained-glass walls, domed ceilings and filigreed paintwork, and they constructed palaces along the Venice canals.

Now, the Jewish community is small and scattered, and in some ways it is thriving and in others it is weak. Venice and Milan have yeshivas now, and there are kosher establishments in the major cities.

Although the synagogues are still there, there are more tourists than locals in many of the minyans, and the heyday of Jewish life in Italy has been largely distilled into a selection of tourist curios, like the fried artichokes — the culinary specialty of the Roman Ghetto — that you can eat in restaurants, or the menorahs made of Murano glass that you can buy in Venice stores.

Still, the official anti-Semitism is gone. Nobody is hollering about putting Italian Jews back in a ghetto and the Vatican has rescinded its anti-Jewish policies.

But that darned graffiti is a sniveling reminder that many of the attitudes haven’t changed all that much since Titus marched into Rome, proudly bearing the treasures of the Temple. It would be great if the Italians could start cleaning up that graffiti and, while they’re at it, finish cleaning up their attitudes.

That Run-Down Feeling


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) plans to construct a grotesquely invasive “Bus Rapid Transit” corridor (the term is MTA’s) along Chandler Boulevard in the East San Fernando Valley, and MTA’s 300-page-plus environmental impact report (EIR) deceives the public in its effort to whitewash the plan. As one salient example of deceit, the EIR disingenuously tries to hide the rapid- transit’s impact on community safety, conceding the possibility of increased “pedestrian/bus conflicts.”

Where I come from in Brooklyn, we called that “getting run over by the bus.” Newspapers call it “bus injuries and bus accidents.” But the MTA covers up the true impending dangers to life and limb by warning of “pedestrian/bus conflicts.”

And so the deception continues. Although the MTA spends $10 million a year to repair graffiti damage that its properties attract, the EIR does not discuss the graffiti impact of constructing several miles of 4-foot-tall white picket fences along Chandler Boulevard.

MTA property attracts spray paint, and spray cans near temples paint swastikas. Graffiti 101.

The EIR concedes that MTA could build a reduced segment of its intended bus line in the Van Nuys commercial area, beginning west of the affected communities, but it absurdly limits consideration of such an alternative line, arbitrarily truncating that option only a few blocks west across the 405 Freeway at Balboa Boulevard. Thus, the EIR utterly fails to discuss and analyze the impact of extending such an alternative all the way west to the desired terminus at the Woodland Hills transportation hub.

Such a reasonable alternative, augmented by a Transportation Systems Management (TSM) program to maximize efficiencies in present surface-transit operations between NoHo and Van Nuys, would achieve the vast majority of MTA’s mass-transit goals at much lower cost than entailed by running 460-480 rapid buses daily, smack through the heart of a residential community.

The EIR reflects the MTA’s cursory study of the people who live and walk in the neighborhood along Chandler. It ignores strong local opposition from Latinos, Asian Americans and African Americans who have saved their take-home pay for years to live in the integrated Chandler community in Valley Village.

It does acknowledge the presence of an Orthodox Jewish community. On Shabbos, thousands of people in the Chandler neighborhood — thousands — do our best to minimize our interaction with the world of hustle-bustle and transportation. Sure, there are cars driving by; that’s cool, and we knew that when we created an expansive community along Chandler over these past 10 years. But it is unconscionably invasive and repugnant to the neighborhood’s character to construct a Bus Rapid Transit line that the EIR promises will run, in one direction or the other, every minute or two along Chandler.

MTA apologists lie when they say that the rapid bus will run “only” once every 7-10 minutes; in truth, the EIR explicitly admits the plan to run buses every 2.5 minutes each way. And there is a good reason that MTA misleads; it knows that rapid 60-foot buses every minute or two truly are invasive.

In its greatest deception, the EIR falsely conveys that MTA seeks to “restore” public transportation as part of the neighborhood’s cultural “history.” But this is not about refurbishing James Madison’s Montpelier estate in Virginia or the Statue of Liberty. For the past 10 years, Chandler has been utterly devoid of mass transit. During those 10 years, the community has charted a dramatic new history.

The Shaarey Zedek congregation expanded dramatically on Chandler. The Toras Hashem Synagogue constructed a huge new building on Chandler. The Valley Torah High School moved from elsewhere to extraordinarily expansive quarters on Chandler. Emek Hebrew Academy practically doubled in size at its nursery and preschool on Chandler. The Chabad Shul underwent a complete renovation on Chandler. A new Sephardic Orthodox Synagogue is under construction on Chandler.

These past 10 years are real history. Regardless of whether a train ran on Chandler 100 years ago, it no longer runs, and it has not run there for 10 years. Horses once promenaded on Wilshire Boulevard, but no one will set aside a lane today for horses to walk past the Jewish Journal on Wilshire. And, even when a train did run in the old days, it ran only once a day. But MTA explicitly admits that it seeks to run as many as 480 buses daily in a comparatively narrow corridor that aligns a walking path and bike path, leaving inadequate swerve room for emergency safety maneuvers.

Finally, the absence of MTA Board members from the public hearings makes a mockery of the entire legal process enacted by the State Legislature and interpreted by the courts. Hundreds of community members have appeared at the public hearings to share their passions and concerns with their elected officials and the agency board, but they have been met with two MTA officers and a transcriber. The 13 MTA Board members cannot possibly understand from a transcript — assuming that they read the hundreds of pages of transcription — the passion of the words spoken at the hearings. Maybe that is the reason that the law calls for “hearings” — not “public transcribings.” One cannot discern from a transcript the tones, the quotation marks, the emphasis, or the passion of the spoken words.

Lives and dreams are at stake. And the sham is such a shame. The MTA has failed to comply with our State Supreme Court’s substantive standard for presenting a Draft EIR, and it has failed to comply with legal standards of procedural due process. A new and honest Draft EIR must be prepared to inform the public sufficiently so it can participate meaningfully in the decision-making process. And a new series of true hearings must be scheduled so that the public actually is heard by the 13 voting members of the MTA Board.

Challenging Hate


Two teenage boys were arrested Sun., Sept. 24, in connection with the ransacking of classrooms and painting of swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti on the walls of the West Valley Hebrew Academy in Woodland Hills.

Police officers, responding to a call from a neighbor who apparently heard glass breaking, found the two running from a classroom. They were charged with burglary, vandalism and hate crimes.

“I feel saddened, shocked, frustrated and upset,” says Rabbi Zvi Block, principal of West Valley Hebrew Academy, which offers schooling from kindergarten to eighth grade.

“The school children feel violated,” the rabbi continued. “To have a swastika painted on your siddur [prayer book], it caused some children to cry.”

The two boys, ages 14 and 15, are accused of breaking into and ransacking 14 classrooms. Police found several windows broken and computers spray painted. “Kill Jews” was also found painted on part of the school. The amount of damage is estimated at $75,000-$80,000, according to Rabbi Block.

The vandalism of the school comes one year after a white supremacist attacked the North Valley Jewish Community Center, wounding students and teachers at the center and killing a postal worker nearby.Neither juvenile is a known member of a white supremacist group. The two were living in a nearby “Sober Living House,” a home for wayward youth, according to Officer Jason Lee.

“I think this shows that the community is not immune to anti-Semitism,” says Aaron Levinson, director of the Valley office for the Anti-Defamation League.

In the aftermath of the attack, neighbors gathered to help prepare the school for the next day’s classes.”We would have never been able to open the school without them,” says Block.

“There is a groundswell of support,” continues the rabbi, who adds that local businesses have offered to help in the repair of the building and the computers. The school has also received $5,000 from an anonymous donor.

Ninety-eight percent of the school’s 200 students attended classes on Monday, according to Block. “I believe it is a testament to the courage our parents have.”

“I spoke with the students. I told the kids there is a lot more good in the world then evil,” says the rabbi.During a school assembly, Block told the students, “How do you fight back? By attending classes and learning Torah better and being more Jewish. They wanted to disrupt class, to close the school. We beat them.”