November 27, 2003
Civil Complaint Filed Against Seidler-Feller
Los Angeles freelance journalist Rachel Neuwirth filed a complaint against UCLA Hillel Director Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller and UCLA Hillel, Los Angeles Hillel Council and Hillel: the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, in the Los Angeles Superior Court on Nov. 20, seeking undisclosed damages for battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligent retention.
The complaint alleges that on Oct. 21, after a Hillel-sponsored lecture where Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz spoke, Neuwirth approached Seidler-Feller and "calmly" told him that Sari Nusseibeh told Iraqi officials to send Scud missiles "not to the Negev [desert] but to more effective places."
Seidler-Feller then "flew into a rage" and "grabbed, twisted and scratched" Neuwirth's right hand and shouted, screamed, kicked and dragged Neuwirth.
According to the complaint, the various Hillel councils mentioned above have been aware of Seidler-Feller's "well-documented history of bizarre, volatile, confrontational and violent behavior" for several years, and have failed to exercise appropriate supervision and due oversight of Seidler-Feller.
Donald Etra, attorney for Seidler-Feller, told The Journal that the lawsuit is a sham, and allegations of Seidler-Feller's past misconduct were preposterous and without merit.
"The lawsuit also grossly mischaracterizes what happened," Etra said in a prepared statement. "The complaint fails to mention that it was Ms. Neuwirth who was the provocateur. She confronted the rabbi in an angry and belligerent manner, and ... spewed venomous words at him."
Etra told The Journal that he would "seriously consider" filing a counter lawsuit.
John Hanover, president of UCLA Hillel who spoke on behalf of all the Hillels named in the lawsuit, said that Hillel was reviewing the case.
"We are investigating the proper response to the complaint. Hillel will do some administrative procedures that we always do for allegations of misconduct," said Hanover, who would not comment on what the administrative procedures would be at this point.
"Our main concern now is that Hillel continues to serve the UCLA students," he said. -- Gaby Wenig, Staff Writer
Wiesenthal Center Issues Greece Travel Advisory
A travel advisory urging "extreme caution" for travelers to Greece has been issued by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, in light of the nation's failure to take steps curbing growing anti-Semitism and hate propaganda.
Citing a series of anti-Jewish acts, articles and statements in Greece, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center's associate dean, warned that "failing a dramatic change in attitude and policy, the current atmosphere of hate and vilification can only escalate and could also poison the environment leading up to the 2004 Olympic Games."
Cooper noted that meetings with and appeals to high Greek government officials in Athens and Washington had been fruitless, so far.
The Wiesenthal Center also cited frequent expressions of hate against Albanian and Roma (Gypsy) immigrants. --Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Peace Goes to the Dogs
Pups for Peace, a program that trains dogs to detect explosives in Israel and to provide quick warning of their presence, will graduate six Israeli policemen and 15 dogs on Dec. 3. The program, which originated in Los Angeles, and was initially sponsored in part by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, has turned out more than 100 canines last year for counterterrorism work in Israel.
For more information contact (800) 669-8930 or visit www.pupsforpeace.org . -- TT
The Rights and Lefts of War
In front of a crowd of 1,200 at a Jewish policy discussion at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, Jewish actor and conservative commentator Larry Miller embodied the sentiment of Iraq liberation advocates when he said the war was about fighting an evil.
Miller joined pro-Israel Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes and Jewish conservative writer John Podhoretz for "The Jewish Community; Liberal Roots and Conservative Solutions," on Nov. 16.
Radio talk show host Michael Medved, the often-quoted Orthodox Jewish culture warrior, moderated the panel first by offering up liberal thinking-based questions for the right-of-center trio and then fielding audience questions.
"I heard four gentlemen make extremely good arguments as to why Jews should be Republicans and why they should support the politics of this president," said Bruce Bialosky, Southern California chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). The RJC's sister group, the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish Policy Center, sponsored the two-hour event. -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer