Jewish Journal


June 3, 2004



Anonymous Donor Buys VCJCC

The embattled supporters of the Valley Cities Jewish Community Center (VCJCC) finally have a reason to celebrate. An anonymous donor reportedly struck a deal to buy the building from JCC of Greater Los Angeles (JCCGLA) and lease it back to the community. JCCGLA accepted the donor's offer of $2.2 million on Thursday, May 27.

Tensions had been running high for some time since JCCGLA announced that it would close and sell the VCJCC building to pay off debts to The Jewish Federation earlier this year. A series of events contributed to the confusion, including JCCGLA's spending of approximately $100,000 on the VCJCC building in late 2003, only a few months before putting it on the chopping block.

Talk from individuals involved in the negotiations had hinted that JCCGLA may have been searching for a higher bidder elsewhere, but those issues appear to have been resolved.

"We're very optimistic," said Michael Brezner, president of VCJCC's advisory committee. "We're going to go ahead and start enrolling children [at the center] for fall because we feel very confident about our buyer and his desire to not allow any roadblocks."

Brezner downplayed the significance of Valley Cities' past differences with JCCGLA. "GLA has been up to this point extremely responsive. There hasn't been one delay, not one. They want this to happen. It's good for them [and] it's good for us." -- Idan Ivri, Contributing Writer

Neo-Nazi Ad Could Change Nation's Policy

A Southern California Holocaust denial group's advertisement in The Nation has prompted the prominent progressive magazine to rethink its wide-open advertising policy and also not take future ads from the neo-Nazi allied group.

"It was found by some [at The Nation] to be so offensive that we just went with that decision," said Nation publisher and editorial director Victor Navasky. "We have a very strong presumption on behalf of taking ads that are at political odds with the magazine."

The one-eighth of a page advertisement on page 58 of the May 3 Nation was placed by the Institute for Historical Review, a Newport Beach-based Holocaust denial organization, which on April 24 held a small "revisionist" conference in Sacramento with what the institute's Web site described as "generous support" by "members and activists of the U.S. neo-Nazi group National Alliance." The Nation ad promoted French writer Roger Garaudy's book, "The Founding Myths of Modern Israel," which the ad said dissects, "the most sacred of Jewish-Zionist icons, the Holocaust story."

Mark Weber, the institute's director, said his group's ad was, "readily accepted for publication. I'm not trying to trick anybody about this ad."

The ad was the first in a standard, $1,600 purchase for four ads with two extra free ads thrown into the deal by a Nation advertising salesman. Nation associate publisher Peter Rothberg also confirmed Weber's account that the magazine solicited Weber to buy the ads, with both a phone call and another sales pitch by mail.

Free copies of the May 3 Nation were handed out at the April 24-25 Los Angeles Times Book Festival at UCLA. Because the ad offended one of the magazine's editors, money paid for upcoming ads was returned to Weber.

In an e-mail, Rothberg told The Journal that after the magazine's management met, "there haven't been any changes to the policy. All that was decided was that each advertisement needed to be addressed on a case-by-case basis."

On April 30 in New York, the magazine's editorial board, including Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and civil rights leader Roger Wilkins, was scheduled to meet for its twice-annual meetings. The magazine's advertising policy will be discussed, Navasky said.

The ad caught the attention of Holocaust researchers at Philadelphia's David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, whose associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, said The Nation, "did the right thing" by cutting ties with Weber's group.

"It's not about free speech; they paid for the ad," said Cooper, adding that while Holocaust deniers have been dismissed by American mainstream culture, many Holocaust denial writers, "are heroes in Tehran, in Gaza, in Cairo. Their message has been wholeheartedly embraced by the mainstream of the Arab and Muslim world." -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

Academics: Israel a Poor Investment

Despite its renown in military and security matters, Israel is a poor investment prospect with a rickety economy and longtime infrastructure problems, according to Israeli academics at the April 26-28 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills.

Conference founder Michael Milken opened a Beverly Hilton Hotel panel on the Jewish state's economy, saying Israel's Middle East locale places it in, "one of the least successful economic areas in the world."

Economic historians have called the 1970s, "the lost decade," in which Israel invested little in its young but fragile national infrastructure of non-military government buildings, hospitals, waterworks and roads.

"The government is not doing its job in infrastructure investment," said business professor Rafi Melnick of the Milken Institute-allied Interdisciplinary Center, a private university in Herzliya.

Counterterrorism expert Boaz Ganor fused ongoing Palestinian terrorism with Israel's need for a long-term economic revitalization.

"One cannot buy peace from terrorists anymore," he said. -- DF

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