July 7, 2005


I thought I was reading an excerpt from an Al Jazeera broadcast when I read \”Two Families\’ Dreams Were Not Demolished\” (June 24).\n\nThe chattering liberals in Brentwood, donating funds for Nasrallah\’s new home, have long ago made common cause with the Israel haters on the left. I expect little from them and more from The Jewish Journal.\n\nRachel Corrie\’s accidental death is a tragedy, but so are the deaths of the Jewish teenagers intentionally murdered by Arabs last month. She chose to be in harm\’s way. Not so the thousands of innocent Israelis murdered and maimed by intentional acts of violence by Arabs during the last four years.

Tentative Deal to Save Valley Cities JCC

The Valley Cities Jewish Community Center received a new lease on life late last week when its parent organization agreed in principle to sell the center property to a local partnership that will keep the JCC going. Without the agreement, the center could have shut down at the end of June, probably for good.

The parent organization, which is called the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles, said it would accept a $2.7 million bid for the Sherman Oaks property.

The condition for this \”discounted\” price was that any developer must also agree to renovate the JCC building or construct a new facility, insiders said. Four developers are believed to have expressed interest in putting senior housing and a state-of-the-art JCC on the land. A formal purchase offer could materialize by the end of July.

Several sources close to the deal declined comment because of ongoing negotiations.

Spectator – Sephardia Secrets

Elaine Romero experienced \”a cool fusion of art and life\” when she wrote the play \”Secret Things.\”

The play tells the story of Delia, a Latino journalist, who goes to New Mexico to investigate the origins of an anonymous package she received postmarked from there containing articles about Crypto-Jews (that is, descendants of the \”Marrano\” Jews of the Spanish Inquisition, who openly practiced Catholicism but conducted Jewish rituals in secret to escape persecution). In New Mexico, Delia finds herself mysteriously drawn to the world of Crypto-Jews, and reluctantly comes to terms with her own Crypto-Jewish roots.

When Romero, also a Latino, was writing the play, the same thing happened.

Wrongful-Death Claim in Burbank Shooting

The family of an Israeli immigrant killed by Burbank police is pursuing a $51 million wrongful-death claim against the cities of Burbank and Los Angeles. Assaf Deri, 25, died a year ago when Burbank undercover police officers shot him in an alley in North Hollywood.

Attorneys for the family said they filed their claim late last month, just prior to the one-year anniversary of Deri\’s death, but the filing could not be verified on Friday, when the family went public with the legal action.

Q and A With Floyd Abrams

New York Times reporter Judith Miller went to jail this week for refusing to reveal confidential sources. The attorney for Miller and the Times is Floyd Abrams, who spoke with The Journal about the case, about his career, and also about his new book, \”Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment.\”

Miller faced imprisonment after the U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to hear her appeal and also an appeal by another reporter, Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine. A judge had held both reporters in contempt for not talking to the grand jury probing an alleged leak by someone in the Bush administration. The investigation centers on who may have violated federal law by disclosing the identity of a covert CIA agent. The leak of the agent\’s name, Valerie Plame, could have been retaliation, because it occurred shortly after Plame\’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, became a public critic of the Bush administration.

Cooper avoided jail time after agreeing to testify. He said his confidential source had, at the last moment, given him clearance to answer questions. Miller could remain in custody for as long as four months – until the grand jury completes its term.

In the interview, Abrams also talked of the Jewish perspective in his legal work, and about his role this year as an adviser to a Columbia University committee assembled following high-profile allegations of campus anti-Semitism.

Turmoil Grows as Withdrawal Nears

With Israel\’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip scheduled to begin on Aug. 15, escalating right-wing and settler protests threaten to plunge the country into anarchy and could provoke a strong anti-settler backlash.

Protesters last week blocked major highways, poured oil and scattered spikes across a busy road; occupied buildings in Gaza, and threw stones at Palestinians and Israel Defense Forces soldiers. The army and police responded by temporarily declaring the Gaza Strip a closed military zone, ejecting the extremists from occupied buildings and making dozens of arrests.

In an unprecedented spate of interviews and public statements, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned what he called the \”hooliganism\” of the far right, and vowed that he would not be deterred by it.

However, will authorities be able to maintain law and order in the face of even more extreme protest plans?

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More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.