October 22, 2019

Video

VIDEO: ‘Don’t Be A Sucker’—War Department tells Americans to fight hatred and fanaticism (1947)

From The Prelinger Archives.

Former Lebanese Minister Wiam Wahhab: The Saudi regime Is used by the Jews to avenge the defeat of the Qaynuqa Tribe by the Prophet Muhammad.

Huh?

In other words, The House of Saud are Jews in disguise.

 

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged Jewish voters in Florida to disregard damaging rumors about presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Dean Reynolds reports.

 

You don’t hear new music like this too often—- especially with a Yiddish accent!

Natalia Timfoyeva (cello) and Oleg Timofeyev (guitar)

Oleg writes on YouTube:

A Musical Biography of a fictional character Shloyme, who survived through many calamities of the 20th century . . .

 

It’s not often you see someone pray to God with all their might for something to happen, and then, when God doesn’t make it happen, thank Him profusely andeven celebrate.

My friend Eva Brown prayed to God with all her might.

She was praying the day she called me a few months ago and said, “Can you come over now? I need to see you.” By a stroke of luck, I had just finished a meeting in her area, and I went right over.

It was one of those bright California afternoons that make you feel guilty if you’re not in a sunny mood. And I was in a great mood, until I got to Eva’s place, a little bungalow in West Hollywood where she has lived for over half a century. With the sun’s rays piercing through the drapes of her immaculate living room, Eva sat on her sofa and gave me the news: She had stage IV leukemia.

Her spleen was so swollen by the tumor that fluid had entered her chest. At 81, she was too frail for surgery. Before doctors could start aggressive chemotherapy, Eva would need a bone marrow test. She was told the earliest it could happen would be two weeks. When she got to the doctor’s office, he changed his mind and said it needed to be done in a hospital. That meant another two weeks. All along, the pain was getting worse.

That’s when Eva started praying.

She saw all these obstacles as a sign that her time was up. Her daughter was not well. The thought of losing her had always haunted Eva. So she figured this was her chance to be the sacrificial lamb that might save her daughter.

“Don’t take her, take me,” she prayed to God day and night, while reading Tehilim (Psalms).

As she was telling me all this, my discomfort grew. This wasn’t the Eva Brown I had come to know — the feisty Holocaust survivor who for years had talked to thousands of people about the preciousness of life. This Eva Brown was ready to throw in the towel.

But I just listened, awkwardly, not agreeing with her resignation, but also wanting to provide comfort and support. As she saw things, after years of teaching people how to live, maybe her new mission would be to teach people how to die: how to accept one’s fate with grace and dignity — how to live while you’re dying.

We agreed that we would film her last statement, which we did a few weeks later. It was not pleasant. The video is a soul-searching, painful summary of her life.

In the meantime, while Eva was anticipating the next world, her good friend Sara Aftergood introduced her to another doctor, Sara’s husband, David, who after talking to Eva immediately put her in touch with a specialist, Dr. Solomon Hamburg. The new doctor and Eva hit it off. Hamburg, a child of Holocaust survivors, took her on as his personal mission. The bone marrow test was done in his office in a day. The chemo would start a few days later, every other Monday for eight weeks. Hamburg had no clue that Eva had been praying for God to “take her.” All he wanted was for Eva to live.

During the chemo treatments, Eva would call and tell me about the incredible physical pain she was going through. It seemed that every part of her little body was aching. She was in such pain she no longer had the strength to pray. When she finally told Dr. Hamburg that even with painkillers her suffering was becoming unbearable, he didn’t downplay it. To the contrary, he told her it was “useful pain”: It meant that the treatment was working.

He pleaded with her to hold on and fight.

He wasn’t the only one who helped Eva fight through the pain. For years, Eva has had an extended family down the street at Maimonides Academy. The head of the school, Rabbi Boruch Kupfer, often came to visit. One day, knowing what Eva was going through, he asked her what they could bring. Eva wasn’t shy: Food, she said, and lots of soup. She had no strength to cook, and she loved soup.

Well, don’t ask. Overnight, the leaders of the Maimonides PTA — Kathy Hiller and Susan Tonczek — turned into managers of a catering operation. For several months, hot, homemade food cooked by Maimonides families was delivered to Eva’s door, along with words of comfort from regular visitors like Marci Spitzer and Sabina Levine.

It was clear that everyone in Eva’s life wanted her to fight and to hang in there, not least her ill daughter. But the pain was so deep she had trouble thinking straight. She started to see God everywhere. She saw God in her daughter’s eyes. She saw God in all the people who wanted her to live. She even saw God in the fact that she was in too much pain to pray for Him to “take her.”

Maybe, she realized, God was simply saying no, it’s not your time to go.

This helped her regain the will to live. Armed with the food deliveries from Maimonides, the dedication of Dr. Hamburg and the love she got from all over, she made it a personal project to conquer the pain of chemotherapy. Like she says now, pain became her “full-time job.” It’s not like she had no experience: Surviving 10 concentration camps in one year at the age of 16 had given her plenty of experience in full-time suffering.

As the weeks went by and her battle continued, her condition slowly improved.

On the Friday before Shavuot, Eva called to give me the news: Her cancer was in remission. The tumor had shrunk and was dormant. She still had some life left in her, and was full of gratitude to everyone who had helped her get through the ordeal.

Having regained some of her strength, Eva is slowly returning to public speaking, and praying with all her might that her daughter will get better.

She’s hoping that God, once again, will know how to answer her prayers.




Last year, Eva Brown talked with JewishJournal.com about her experience during the Shoah. Video by Jay Firestone.



David Suissa, an advertising executive, is founder of OLAM magazine and Meals4Israel.com. He can be reached at dsuissa@olam.org.

Israeli companies BrightSource Energy and LUZ II have created a solar power development center—the word’s first, they say.  Here is the promo video.

On Al-Jazeera TV, Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University asserts—in Arabic—that Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for over 3000 years. 

Available here for the first time with English subtitles.


Bianca Khalili’s friends posted this tribute on YouTube

On May 26, 17-year-old Beverly Hills High School student Bianca Khalili fell to her death from the 15th floor of an apartment building in Century City.

The girl’s passing — homicide has been ruled out by the police — has left members of the local Iranian Jewish community shocked and speculating on the unusual circumstances of the girl’s death.

Despite many inquiries, no one from the tight-knit community would comment publicly on the tragic incident, but, privately, local Iranian Jews have been abuzz with rumors and perplexed by how to properly resolve a new and growing problem of violence within their ranks.

Lt. Ray Lombardo, commanding officer of the West Los Angeles Detective Divison, said there is still an ongoing investigation into Khalili’s death.

“Unfortunately this was a very tragic incident, but there is no evidence to substantiate that there was any foul play,” Lombardo said. “We do have reason to believe it may have been an accidental fall, or possibly a suicide,” he added.



David Suissa writes about Bianca’s death in this week’s Live in the Hood



West Los Angeles detectives said there was one witness to the incident, who has been interviewed but is not a suspect in the case. While police investigators did not disclose the name of the witness, an internal Beverly Hills High School (BHHS) memo, circulated via e-mail and obtained by The Journal, has identified the girl as Dora Afrahim, who is also Iranian Jewish and a student at BHHS.

Khalili’s death is just one of the recent incidents of community distress that have left many local Iranian Jews speculating among themselves, unsure of how to address circumstances of violence they are encountering.

In February, Alfred Hakim, an Iranian Jewish resident of Beverly Hills, was shot at his family home on the 400 block of N. Palm Drive in Beverly Hills, allegedly by his brother, Adel. That shooting has prompted local Iranian Jews to struggle with the notion that violence can happen in their normally peaceful community.

“The Jewish Iranians have been brought up to help and protect each other,” Jimmy Delshad, Iranian Jewish Beverly Hills City councilman and former mayor, said after the shooting. “This incident is not at all a typical situation in Beverly Hills, and especially not in the Persian community — my heart goes out to the family, and I pray for the speedy physical and mental recovery of all the family members.”

On March 27, 47-year-old Adel Hakim was arraigned at a Superior Court in Beverly Hills, where he plead not guilty to a felony charge of first-degree attempted murder of his 49-year-old brother Alfred Hakim, according to Sandi Gibbons, a spokesperson for the L.A. County District Attorney’s office.

Sgt. Lincoln Hoshino of the Beverly Hills Police Department said that within two hours of the shooting incident, Adel was identified as the suspect and arrested by California Highway Patrol following a traffic accident he was involved in at an undisclosed location in the San Fernando Valley. No date has been set for Adel Hakim’s trial, and his attorneys did not return calls for comments.

He is currently being held at Los Angeles County jail in downtown L.A. in lieu of $1 million bail, while the victim remains in critical condition at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Gibbons said. Neither Beverly Hills police nor Gibbons would name a motive for the shooting, but said Adel Hakim’s next appearance in court will be a preliminary hearing currently scheduled for June 19.

If convicted, he would face a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole, according to the California state Penal Code.

The Iranian Jewish community has been preoccupied by these incidents, but a community-wide taboo against openly discussing violence, for fear of public embarrassment, has kept the community and their leaders from talking openly. The community’s legal experts called this mentality among Iranian Jews unproductive, and said it has resulted in minor incidences of violence continuing in the community and now developing into more serious cases.

“Generally, the very deep-rooted cultural ethos of hiding all problems and pretending that everyone’s life is perfect is what ends up fueling the unchecked anger that leads to the situations where someone ends up getting physically hurt,” said Nazila Shokrian-Barlava, an L.A. County Deputy Alternate Public Defender. “Our community does not have the tools to deal with percolating situations before they reach that violent level.”

Despite the proscription against publicly discussing the shooting, Rabbi Hillel Benchimol, who is not Iranian but works within the community, recently gave a sermon about violence in the community to a group of young Iranian Jews at the Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills. Benchimol said he was not familiar with the Hakim incident, but believes the community problem with violence may be rooted in more serious disputes involving finances that have remained unresolved over the years among some local Iranian Jewish families.

“There’s a lot of divisiveness and resentment over money issues among some Iranian Jews, because the community since it left Iran in 1979 has always been looking to restore its glory and financial prowess,” Benchimol said. “So many of them are relentless in their pursuit of the American dream. I think this incident is a personification of that extreme mentality, and it’s a malady that should be rooted out of the community.”

Shokrian-Barlava said that while she knows of only 10 incidents in the last 30 years involving guns where either the perpetrator or the victim have been Iranian Jews, domestic violence among Iranian Jewish families has been a more substantial problem that has not yet been addressed by local Iranian Jewish leaders.

“What I hear, usually from the victims, is that there was no support for them when they wanted help, and they were discouraged from speaking to anyone outside of the family,” she said. “If they seek support from our community leaders they are told to just try harder to avoid any violence — the language does not exist, the will to solve these problems does not exist, and there is no real and productive support system for anyone to go to for help.”

Dara Abaei, an Iranian Jewish activist and head of the L.A.-based Jewish Unity Network, said violence between Iranian Jewish parents and children and between spouses was a growing dilemma up until 15 years ago. Following their arrival in the United States nearly 30 years ago , local Iranian Jews were initially unfamiliar with American laws concerning domestic violence, since such physical abuse was tolerated in Iran, he said.

Professor Boris Rubinsky and his team at Hebrew University and the University of California, Berkeley, have designed a system to transfer medical images via cell phone. Watch how this technology works

Here’s how YouTube member EntDiv describes the video:

The Entertainment Division of The Jewish Federation is a dynamic group of entertainment and media professionals who participate in a wide variety of educational, social, and volunteer opportunities to benefit the Jewish community locally and aboard. If you are interested in philanthropy, the Jewish community, networking or simply having fun, the Entertainment Division has something for you. Whether you are a media mogul or an up-and-coming young executive, we hope you will join us in giving back!

 

 

Rachel Somekh teaches two classic Iraqi appetizers, potato chops and cigars

 


The video from LAPD

Police are requesting the public’s help in identifying the perpetrator of synagogue vandalism.

On November 13, someone spraypainted a devil on the back wall of Congregation Beth Israel at 8056 Beverly Blvd. in the Fairfax district. The vandalism was captured on video, and police believe a citizen will be able to identify the perpetrator.

“We have exhausted all means in the investigation,” said Detective Ronald Case. “I believe someone will know who this is,” he said.

Anyone with information about this crime is urged to contact LAPD Wilshire Division, (213) 922-8228.

The City Council, at Councilman Jack Weiss’ urging, offered a $20,000 reward.

“Repeatedly vandalizing a Jewish house of worship sends a message of hate to the entire Jewish community,” said Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Amanda Susskind.  “We are proud to have elected leaders and law enforcement who so willingly and promptly denounce these message crimes.”

Susskind expressed particular concern in the wake of the recent spate of hate crimes in the San Fernando Valley, which included anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism attacks in Tarzana in January and incendiary devices launched at the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus and a private home in West Hills in February. 

A brutal attack against an Orthodox man in North Hollywood in April prompted the LA City Council, led by Council Member Wendy Greuel, and ADL to offer a combined $30,000 reward for information leading to the identification, apprehension, and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the attack.

The most recent Hate Crimes Report released by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations for 2006 shows that Jews continue to be the most frequently targeted religious group, now accounting for 71 percent of religious-based hate crimes.

On Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated his call for the destruction of Israel.

He first made the comments in 2005, fueling international outrage. Taking aim once again at Israel and the United States—-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated inflammatory comments that he’d made three years ago:

Saying Israel would soon disappear.Ahmadinejad first made the remarks in 2005, fueling international outrage AND speculation that he was threatening the Jewish state with a nuclear weapon…But while speaking at a ceremony honoring the late founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic Monday—- Ahmadinejad told an audience that—- quote—- “this origin of corruption will soon be wiped off of the Earth’s face.”

Ahmadinejad also called the U-S a satanic power… that with—God’s will—would be annihilated. Iran cut ties with Israel and the United States in 1979 after their revolution toppled the nation’s government. On Tuesday, Ahmadinejad arrived in Rome for a U-N summit designed to help combat skyrocketing food prices worldwide.His attendance at the meeting was denounced by both Jewish leaders and a host of political and activist groups.

Oscar winner Jon Voight on Israeli TV last month.

The story of the IAF’s attack on the Iraqi Nuclear reactor near Baghdad in June 1981.

From The Military channel

UCLA has established an academic program in Mediterranean Jewish Studies, focusing on the rich history of Jewish life and culture in Italy, as well as in France, Spain, the Balkans, Greece, North Africa, Egypt and aspects of Israel’s past.

Starting in the fall, the program will bring a noted scholar as visiting professor to the campus for one quarter each year to lead classes on a topic dealing with Jewish society, history or culture in one of the designated countries.

The program was launched through a $1.4 million gift from Andrew Viterbi, considered the father of cell technology, his wife Erna, and their three children.

“This is the first program of its kind and exemplifies the trend in historical analysis to go beyond traditional political boundaries and look at broad regional trends,” said historian David N. Myers, director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies.


Viterbi interview

Viterbi and his parents arrived in the United States as refugees from a small town near Milan, a week before the outbreak of World War II, after Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, aping Adolf Hitler, had imposed anti-Semitic laws.

After graduating from USC with a doctorate in electrical engineering and joining the UCLA faculty, the young professor developed the groundbreaking Viterbi Algorithm, which opened the doors to the digital age.

His mathematical formula for eliminating signal interference, allowing cell phones to communicate without interfering with each other, also led to direct broadcast satellite television, deep space weather forecasting, video transmission from the surface of Mars, voice recognition and even DNA sequence analysis.

As an entrepreneur, he co-founded Linkabit in the 1960s and cell phone giant Qualcomm in 1985, both hugely successful enterprises.

He has since endowed or supported a wide range of Jewish institutions in San Diego and Israel and served as president of the Jewish Community Foundation in San Diego and Congregation Beth El in La Jolla.

Commenting on his donation to UCLA, Viterbi said, “Because the Mediterranean region has been at the crossroads of commerce and ideas for thousands of years, it has been the site of one of the richest and most diverse Jewish cultures in history. I want that culture to be explored and recognized.”

The philanthropist himself “is perfectly fluent with the scholarship of the Italian Jewish experience,” said Myers, who was recently elected a Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research.

The Center for Jewish Studies offers close to 50 public lectures, seminars and conferences each year, including series in Sephardic studies, Holocaust studies, and Modern Jewish culture.

UCLA’s academic departments list 70 courses each year in Jewish and Israeli studies and Hebrew.

Mounting pressure from Jewish groups and members of Congress has led the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the United States to start searching for a new CEO less than two weeks after federal agents arrested nearly 400 of its employees in a massive immigration raid.

Aaron Rubashkin, the founder of Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa, announced May 23 that he intends to find a replacement for his son, Sholom, as company CEO.

The announcement follows statements from three Jewish organizations raising the specter of a boycott, the launch of a campaign by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and a call from Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) for an investigation of the company.

“The best course of action for the company, its employees, the local community and our customers is to bring new leadership to Agriprocessors,” the senior Rubashkin said in a statement.

The Brooklyn butcher and Chabad-Lubavitcher, who founded the company in 1987, added, “The company has begun the search for a new permanent chief executive officer. We have engaged a team of industry experts to help us identify and secure a new leader who can help us meet the needs of Agriprocessors today and in the future. We will make more information on the search process available by the end of next week.”

The statement reiterated that “due to pending legal issues,” the company would not respond to specific allegations. They include charges of hiring underage workers, sexual harassment and withholding of overtime pay.

Rubashkin’s move to replace his son comes as Agriprocessors is facing mounting legal problems and boycott threats following the recent raid. The company’s problems have raised fears about a possible shortage of kosher meat and fired up the debate over whether Jewish religious bodies should take a more active role in monitoring the working conditions at kosher factories.

In response to the raid and related allegations about the situation at the plant in Postville, Iowa, the Jewish Labor Committee issued a statement May 23 calling for a boycott of Agriprocessors.

The company sells its kosher meat under various labels, including Aaron’s Best, Aaron’s Choice, Rubashkin’s, European Glatt, Supreme Kosher, David’s and Shor Habor.

In its statement, the Jewish Labor Committee asserted that the company had displayed “a clear pattern of employer negligence and even lawlessness,” including the violation of child labor laws and toleration of various forms of worker abuse.

The committee’s statement was followed by a “request” from the Conservative movement’s top bodies that kosher consumers “evaluate whether it is appropriate to buy and eat meat products” from Agriprocessors.

That same day, Uri L’tzedek, a project started by students at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a liberal Orthodox rabbinical school in Manhattan, began circulating a petition asking Agriprocessors to pay its workers at least the federal minimum wage, abide by laws pertaining to workers’ rights and treat employees according to Torah standards.

Organizers say that about 450 people from across the denominational spectrum had signed as of Monday.

“Until these changes are made, we feel compelled to refrain from purchasing or consuming meat produced by your company, and will pressure every establishment with which we do business to cease purchase of your meat,” the petition reads. “Effective June 15, 2008 we will stop patronizing any restaurant that sells your meat.”

Meanwhile, the food workers union has taken out advertisements in major Jewish newspapers detailing the allegations against Agriprocessors. The union, which has waged a legal battle over its still unsuccessful efforts to organize plant workers, also has launched a Web site, EyeOnAgriprocessors.org, to publicize claims against the company.

Last week, in a sign of the controversy’s impact, a supermarket in a heavily Jewish suburb of Philadelphia posted a sign stating that its kosher chicken was produced by Empire, a major poultry competitor.

The store director said that the market was unable to procure chicken from Aaron’s, which it had been selling for three years, and wanted to inform customers of the change.

The May 12 federal raid is said to be the largest of its kind in U.S. history. Of the 389 illegal immigrants apprehended, 297 pleaded guilty within days and were sentenced to short prison terms or probation, to be followed by deportation to their native countries.

Speculation is rife over whether prosecutors are investigating the company itself, especially after one Postville resident with ties to Agriprocessors confirmed last week that he had been summoned to appear before a grand jury.

A spokesman for the local U.S. Attorney’s Office would not comment on the matter.

In Washington, the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing May 20 on the raid, focusing mainly on its impact on the children of detained workers. But members of Congress also have expressed concern that the raids targeted illegal workers while letting their employers off the hook.

Braley, who represents the northeast Iowa area where the plant is located, has called for an investigation of the company.

Within the Jewish world, the loudest reactions have come from the Conservative movement and the liberal edge of Orthodoxy. Interviews with some of Postville’s Chabad residents and other observers suggest that the ultra-Orthodox, or Charedi community, is taking the flood of accusations against Agriprocessors with more than a grain of salt.

“The problem is, there’s a mind-set that you have to give the person the benefit of the doubt,” said Binyomin Jolkovsky, the editor of Jewish World Review and a longtime observer of Charedi Jewry. “But when 12 government agencies come in and do a sting operation, and after something that was so detailed, you got to wonder.”

In the Charedi community, Jolkovsky said, the sentiment tends to be much more focused on the bottom line for the consumer.

“They’re paying people $5 an hour labor, how come I’m paying $7 a pound for steak?’ That’s what they were saying,” he said.

Some Jewish Postville residents refused to even consider some of the government’s allegations, such as that methamphetamine was being produced at the plant or that the company was shorting its workers. In the days after the raid, several said that the affair was the product of an anti-Orthodox, if not anti-Semitic, agenda.


“While I always regarded [these relatives] with respect and awe, part of me knew I could never understand their pain and was thankful for this grace of innocence,” Kofman, the 47-year-old filmmaker, said from the attic office of his Brentwood home. “And yet another part of me was endlessly curious and even indecorously fascinated with the nature of their singular suffering and loss.”

In this way, Kofman says he is “unfortunately” a bit like the anti-hero of his debut feature film, “The Memory Thief,” who becomes so obsessed with the grotesque details of videotaped survivors’ testimonies that he is “virtually rubbernecking the Holocaust.”

The fictional Lukas (Mark Webber) is a non-Jewish tollbooth worker whose only human contact is with passengers who breeze past his Southern California booth. The world literally passes him by — that is, until a survivor tosses him a copy of his videotaped testimony. Lukas is so mesmerized by the tape that he lies his way into a position at a Holocaust archive, allowing his supervisor to think he is Jewish; he sneaks tapes home so he can watch them on multiple television sets in his apartment.


The trailer

As the young man surrounds himself with these talking heads, he spirals into psychosis, replacing his own memories with those of the survivors. Along the way, he stalks a popular filmmaker who has directed a “serious” Holocaust drama — a not-so-veiled reference to Steven Spielberg and “Schindler’s List” (although, Kofman said mischievously, “Our lawyer says he’s not Spielberg, so I guess he’s not”).

Kofman — who is also a writer of darkly comic, satirical plays — insists he did not intend “The Memory Thief” to be a “bad-boy film,” and the response from audiences (including survivors and members of his own family) has been positive, at least so far.

The movie is a “morally audacious and intriguingly original … attempt to counter Hollywood’s formulaic approaches to the Holocaust drama,” Jeannette Catsoulis wrote in The New York Times.

It is “one of the first films to address the notion of Holocaust testimonials — what these videos mean, the power they can have on those with or without a connection to the events, and the way they can be misused,” the New York Sun noted.

Kofman intends his film “first and foremost to explore how we should transmit memories of the Holocaust.” He questions the amassing of tens of thousands of testimonies: “The danger is when you do it simply to acquire, to hoard, as Lukas does in the film. But how many testimonies do we need? Some people think there is redemption in numbers. Yet, at a certain point, it’s not just a question of volume, but how one relates to the testimonies.”

“The Memory Thief” also critiques what Kofman calls “Hollywood’s unchecked impulse to market trauma” by turning Holocaust stories into tales of heroism and redemption.

“Audiences want closure, but there is no closure with the Holocaust,” he said. “I wanted to make a movie that not only resisted that impulse but called it into question.”

Kofman, who grew up in Nigeria, Kenya and Israel before moving to New York at age 6 (his father was a civil engineer), says the movie began with a single, absurd image: a man purchasing lottery tickets with numbers jotted from the arms of concentration camp survivors. He envisioned the character undergoing a “Taxi Driver”-like transformation as he assumes a new identity: “Lukas is like a transvestite to Judaism,” Kofman adds. “He dons a tallit and a kippah and perform rituals without any substantive element.”

As a counterpoint to Lukas’ faux identity, Kofman included testimonies of real survivors in his film; they are clips from interviews the filmaker himself conducted with Los Angeles-based survivors (one of them is the late Fred Diament, who took an active role in The “1939” Club and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust).

“I realized while cutting the film that I had to be judicious about how much of the testimonies I used,” Kofman said. “The taped stories are so powerful that just a little goes a long way. Had I used too many, they would have overwhelmed the fictional story, and the narrative would have fallen apart.”

Kofman says he told the survivors up front about his intentions and tried to be as respectful as possible during interviews.

But sometimes he guiltily caught himself thinking like the fictional Lukas.

“A survivor would show me his number or say something amazing — and I would think, ‘This is great for my movie,'” he recalled. “It was like I had this mercenary aspect.” And, he added, “That deserves to be critiqued.”

The movie opens May 30 at the Laemmle Theatres.

I’m sitting in a Paris courtroom, and I might as well be in an art museum. There are huge windows, high ceilings, old chandeliers, and a very nervous group ofpeople awaiting a decision.

We’re in the Cour d’appel, the French Appellate Court, on the day the court is to render its decision in the case of Philippe Karsenty against the government-funded Channel 2 television station. For the past six years, Karsenty has devoted his life to proving that the station’s report claiming that the IDF was responsible for the death of young Mohammed Al Durrah at the beginning of the second intifada was part of a staged hoax. The station was so taken aback by Karsenty’s public attacks that it sued him for defamation, and won. That was two years ago.

Karsenty appealed the decision and has made a serious comeback, introducing additional evidence and garnering more public support. Six years of his long fight against one of France’s most distinguished reporters, Charles Enderlin, came down to this moment.

Once the panel of judges took their seats, it took less than 60 seconds for the head judge to announce the decision: The case against Karsenty had no merit. Evidently, he had introduced more than enough doubt regarding the credibility of the report. Little David had prevailed against the Goliath of French media. In the controlled chaos that ensued, opposing lawyers wore a look of shock, while everybody else just sort of looked at each other, as if to say: “What just happened?” There was enough legalese in the judge’s verdict that many people on Karsenty’s side, myself included, were asking questions more than actually celebrating — wondering whether there were any legal strings attached.

But there weren’t. It was a clean victory. Outside, on the courthouse steps, cameramen and reporters were clinging to Karsenty’s every word, including his demand that the station make a public apology in reparation to the worldwide Jewish community, which had been slandered by the original report.

That night, after celebrating the victory in a kosher restaurant in a Jewish neighborhood of Paris, I reflected on the difference between perception and reality. It’s true that there’s plenty of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment in France, and in fact, the opposition that Karsenty faced during his long trial showed some of that sentiment.

But it’s also true that justice prevailed for a little Jew against an icon of French media and culture. Considering all we hear about the precarious situation for Jews living in France, that kind of result shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Beyond the high drama of this Jewish victory for truth and justice, however, there is another, quieter drama unfolding for the Jewish community of Paris. This is the silent drama of neighborhoods, the kind I often write about in Los Angeles.

During my week there, I visited two of these neighborhoods, each one going in a very different direction.

The first was the oldest Jewish neighborhood in Paris, known as Le Marais, home to the renowned Jewish Museum, a yeshiva, kosher markets, Judaica stores and anything else you’d expect to find on Fairfax or Pico.

But with one big difference: this neighborhood is disappearing.

The manager of the Mi-Va-Ni kosher grill, Benny Maman, lamented the decline. Five years ago, he told me, there were about 20 small kosher restaurants in the area; today there are only three. Same thing with synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish bookstores, etc. There is only a handful left, mostly on one street, Rue des Rosiers.

Where Jewish merchants once stood are now trendy boutiques with names like Koo Kai and Custo Barcelona. A storefront with the faded name of a Jewish bakery is now a gay bar. Of the remaining Jewish shops, several have “for lease” signs on them.

Where did the Jewish life go? Did Jews scramble out because of the anti-Semitism we hear so much about? Actually, according to Maman, it’s mainly about the parking. When they turned Rue des Rosiers into a pedestrian walkway, it made a bad parking situation even worse. As a result, significantly fewer Jews have patronized the area, and businesses and residents have wandered off to other neighborhoods.

Like, for example, the neighborhood where I spent Shabbat, the 17th “arrondissement.” This is becoming the Pico-Robertson of Paris. There’s practically a Shilo’s Restaurant or Delice Bistro on every corner. I spent Shabbat with my all-time favorite chazzan, Ouriel Elbilia (you must hear his Shabbat CD), who runs a synagogue called Beth Rambam in an ornate old building. The community here is on the upswing, but are residents afraid of anti-Semitism? I asked a few people, and they all told me the same thing: The fear is mostly in the racially charged suburbs. But they still watch their backs around here, and several of them complained about the difficulty of making a living in modern-day France.

So those were my Jewish encounters in Paris. I met a Jew in an old neighborhood who lamented the passing of the good old days and complained about parking. I heard a Sephardic chazzan singing beautiful melodies in a thriving Jewish neighborhood, where Jews aren’t afraid to be Jews, but where they still find plenty to kvetch about.

And I hung out with an outspoken and articulate Jew who annoys the establishment with his relentless pursuit of truth and justice, and who wouldn’t mind, by the way, turning his story into a Hollywood motion picture.

Really, if it hadn’t been for the gorgeous architecture, I might have felt right at home.

David Suissa, an advertising executive, is founder of OLAM magazine and Meals4Israel.com. He can be reached at dsuissa@olam.org.



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