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Jewish Journal

Community Briefs

November 15, 2001 | 7:00 pm

Slave Labor Compensation Claims Due

Attention Holocaust survivors and their heirs: The deadline is rapidly approaching for compensation from a fund established in July 2000 by the German Government and more than 6,000 German companies that used slave and forced labor during the Nazi era. "Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future," a $4.8 billion compensation fund managed by the German Economic Foundation Initiative, has an application deadline of Dec. 31, 2001, for all claimants worldwide.

Bet Tzedek Legal Services is helping Holocaust survivors apply for, litigate over and recover reparations, free of charge. "Navigating the Byzantine application process, with its many requirements and questions, is something we have expertise in and we urge all survivors and their heirs in California to contact us immediately for help in the process," said David Lash, executive director of Bet Tzedek, a beneficiary agency of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Eligible claimants include "slave laborers" forced to work in a concentration camp, ghetto or under comparable conditions of confinement or "forced laborers" in Germany or Axis occupied territories. Not included in the definition of "slave laborer" -- victims of medical experiments and children in concentration camps and ghettos, whether they worked or not. Also included are heirs of survivors who were alive on or after Feb. 16, 1999. Former prisoners of war and laborers in Soviet-occupied territories are not eligible under the new fund's guidelines.

For more information, potential claimants can contact Bet Tzedek at (323) 549-5883. -- Staff Report

Conference Explores Israel Coverage

An eager crowd of nearly 200 braved the rain-slicked Sepulveda Pass on Sunday, Nov. 4 to attend "Israel and the Media Challenge," a half-day conference organized by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). Held at Stephen S. Wise Temple, a co-sponsor with The Jewish Federation's Jewish Community Relations Committee, the conference focused on identifying problems relating to the media's coverage of Israel.

Founded in 1982, CAMERA is a national research and education organization that monitors media coverage of Israel and the Middle East, and strives to promote "accurate, balanced and complete reporting."

Alex Safian, CAMERA's associate director, addressed National Public Radio's (NPR) reporting on Israel, which he said is disproportionately pro-Arab despite the media outlet's strong Jewish donor base.

"The danger of NPR is that its listeners are influential and politically active," said Safian, who also alleged that NPR has blackballed terrorist expert Steven Emerson following pressure from the Council on American Islamic Relations.

During her address, titled "Hearts and Minds," CAMERA Executive Director Andrea Levin was roundly booed when she commented that Los Angeles Times reporter Tracy Wilkinson was doing an "acceptable job."

"The sense of the [Los Angeles Times] having a hostile approach toward Israel really comes from the extreme Op-Eds," Levin said.

Further disagreement from the audience prompted Levin to openly consider pursuing a meeting with the Times and the possibility of establishing a West Coast CAMERA presence in the future.

Other speakers included Rep. Brad Sherman; David Wurmser, director of American Enterprise Institute's Middle East studies program; and Fiamma Nirenstein, Jerusalem correspondent for Italy's La Stampa. -- Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Rabbis Support 'Recall Rights'

Displaced workers in Santa Monica's beleaguered tourist industry may have something to give thanks for this Thanksgiving, thanks to a group of interfaith clergy taking action on their behalf.

Religious leaders gathered Thursday, Nov. 9 on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade in support of proposed "recall rights" legislation. The legislation, under consideration by the Santa Monica City Council, would guarantee laid-off workers the right to return to their jobs when their positions again become available.

The group included Rabbi Jeff Marx of Temple Sha'arei Am and Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels of Temple Beth Shir Shalom, along with Christian and Buddhist clergy. Standing in front of a "half-empty Thanksgiving table," the group read from religious texts in support of workers' rights.

For more information on efforts to help displaced workers, call (310) 260-9149. -- Mike Levy, Staff Writer

Israelis Visit Los Angeles

In recent weeks the local Jewish Community enjoyed a number of Israeli visitors. Former Israeli Ambassador and former Defense Minister Moshe Arens met with The Journal prior to speaking about security and the Middle East to a packed room at a program hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Committee (JCRC) of The Los Angeles Jewish Federation.

"I don't put much faith in the coalition, that won't stop the war on terror,"Arens told The Journal, referring to the broad anti-terror coalition President George W. Bush has put together to include Arab countries. Arens called it a "wasted effort" and said it "will become clear in due course" that Israel and the U.S.' relationship is the strongest one.

But Israeli Minister Without Portfolio Danny Naveh had a different opinion: "We understand the need for the U.S. to form such a coalition," Naveh told The Journal during his visit here. "We understand and we will do whatever it takes to help, and we expect the public here to understand what we face in Israel." Naveh spoke to more than 500 Israelis at a program comemmorating slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The Israel Women's Network (IWN) also came to L.A. earlier this month to meet with local leaders and raise money toward promoting equal rights for women in Israel. Meetings included a breakfast at the home of Consul General Yuval Rotem, and a meeting at the Hebrew Union College. "Some people think that because of the political situation in Israel, it's not the time for the IWN," Rina Bar-Tal, the Chairwoman, told a group of more than 30 people gathered at the home of of Rivka and Reuven Dori.

Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior met this week with the Board of Rabbis and other Jewish leaders. -- Amy Klein, Managing Editor

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