A day after StandWithUs, the L.A.-based pro-Israel grass-roots organization, and CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) held their March 21 joint advocacy conference, "Making Israel's Case," organizers and attendees certainly had their work cut out for them following the targeted killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin.
More than 300 people attended the daylong bipartisan program -- including high school and college students -- at Beth Jacob Congregation to learn techniques for dispelling myths about Israel, its policies and programs. Not an easy task.
"Synergy can only lead to more effective activism," StandWithUs President Esther Renzer said during her opening remarks.
Nathan Wirtschafter, a CAMERA board member, opened the morning session by praising the organization's 4,000 letter writers and introduced Alex Safian, CAMERA's associate and research director, who spoke about "Media Myths and How to Refute Them." Safian noted that "Israel [is held] to standards that no other country can meet."
"Funding Evil" author Rachel Ehrenfeld focused on the propaganda war Saudi Arabia is waging against Israel during her segment, "Saudi Arabia and the Links to Terror -- Pre-Sept. 11." "Saudis should be put on the [terror] list and we should freeze their assets," said Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center of Democracy.
CAMERA President Andrea Levin finished the morning session with examples of the organization's effort to correct errors in reporting, especially "ABC News" and "Nightline."
During the afternoon session, StandWithUs Executive Director Roz Rothstein drew thunderous applause with a video of the organization's presence at The Hague in support of Israel's security fence, testimonials from Christian groups from around the world also supporting the fence and interviews with relatives of suicide bombings victims.
One of the subjects in the video, Arnold Roth, whose daughter Malki died in the Sbarro bombing, was visiting from Israel and took time to address the conference.
"Terrorism is terrorism everywhere in the world, except when it happens in Israel," he said, adding that the best way to help people understand the impact of terror is to offer humanitarian explanations, not political ones.
Other afternoon sessions included talks from Danny Shapiro, director of the Israel on Campus Coalition; Diana Stein, deputy director for the Southern Pacific region of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); conservative pollster Frank Luntz, and KABC's Al Rantell.
StandWithUs is co-sponsoring a visit from Israeli Cabinet member Natan Sharansky to Los Angeles, April 19-21. He will speak on why Israel is losing the information war on campus at UC Irvine, April 19; UCLA's Royce Hall, April 20, and USC, April 21. For more information, call (310) 836-6140 or visit www.standwithus.com. -- Shoshana Lewin, Contributing Writer
Under the sprawling chandelier of the Beverly Hills Hotel crystal ballroom, about 200 people gathered on March 24 for the Friends of the Fulfillment Fund's 13th annual spring luncheon.
The Fulfillment Fund provides at-risk Los Angeles school district students with mentors and financial assistance to help them graduate high school and attend college. Since its founding in 1977, the fund has aided almost 300 students.
This year's event featured one of the program's beneficiaries, Erick Marques, who spoke of his journey from being an eighth-grader without college aspirations at Henry Clark Middle School to graduating from Stanford University.
"The Fulfillment Fund kindles a flame," Marquez said. "My mentor made my path to success his business."
Marquez was joined at the podium by Hadassah Lieberman, the wife of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.).
"What is light?" Lieberman asked. "The American dream is a dream of light. When children try to touch the light of education, we must make sure the lights are on."
Lieberman presented a Community Leadership Award to interior designer Dee Dee Decherney and Dr. Alan DeCherney, both longtime supporters of the Fulfillment Fund. The award is given each year for outstanding humanitarianism and commitment to the education of all children. -- Lea Silverman, Contributing Writer
Parks Joins Journal Board
Michael Parks, director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, has joined The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles' board of directors.
Parks' coverage of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa earned him the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting. From 1997 to 2000, Parks served as editor of the Los Angeles Times, during which time the newspaper garnered four additional Pulitzers.
From his first overseas assignment covering the Vietnam War as the Baltimore Sun's Saigon correspondent, Parks has reported on major international news events from a variety of international capitals, including Beijing, Moscow, Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Jerusalem. Parks joined the Los Angeles Times in 1980 and in 1995 was promoted to deputy foreign editor and later managing editor, before taking the helm as editor in 1997.
As editor of the Los Angeles Times, Parks was responsible for news coverage and editorial page positions of the largest metropolitan newspaper in the United States. He managed an editorial staff of 1,350 and a budget of more than $120 million. Under his direction, the Times' circulation increased 16 percent to 1.17 million and also developed an enhanced online news site, www.latimes.com.
With a sense of educational and social responsibilities held by the newspaper, Parks helped launch Reading by 9, a community program to ensure all 9-year-old children in Southern California would read at grade level by the end of third grade, as well as editorial advocacy for adoption of a new City Charter for Los Angeles and educational reform, including the election of a new school board.
Parks joined the USC Annenberg faculty in fall 2000.
Originally from Detroit, Mich., Parks and his wife live in Pasadena. They have three grown children and three grandchildren.
The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles is the West's largest independent Jewish weekly. The Journal also publishes the The Jewish Journal Orange County and Jewish Family Life Magazine, which serves the Conejo and West San Fernando valleys. The Journal is not affiliated with any movement or institution.
Young Israel Anniversary
Young Israel of Century City celebrated its 28th anniversary at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel on Feb. 29. At the dinner, Dr. Howard and Elizabeth Abramowitz received the synagogue's Tribute Award for their efforts on behalf of the synagogue and community, and Sherrill and Jeff Kaye received the synagogue's first Chesed Award for leading the shul's Chesed Committee.
Lenny and Corrinne Sands, Brad and Cheryl Cohen, Larry and Sue Hochberg and Robert Zarnegin of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) co-hosted an intimate reception for Israeli Brig. Gen. Eival Gilady on March 11 at the Peninsula Beverly Hills.
FIDF helps provide social, educational and recreational programs and facilities for the young men and women defending the State of Israel.