April 11, 2002
Israel, We're Standing By
The United Jewish Communities visited Israel on a two-day mission this week to express the support of the American Jewish community for Israel. The "We Stand With Israel" mission delegates met with intelligence officials, Israeli Defense Forces representatives, and members of the government, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. The group visited the Park hotel in Netanya and met with relatives of the Passover Massacre victims. John Fishel, president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles; Jake Farber, chairman of The Federation board; and Rob Irmas of the Irmas Family Foundation, partook in the mission. Fishel and Farber brought to Israel a $1 million contribution as the first installment of The Jewish Federation's United Jewish Fund-Crisis Fund, a $10 million campaign to provide emergency support to the people of Israel. -- Staff Report
Berkeley Hillel Vandalized
Berkeley Hillel was vandalized over the Passover holiday, the glass front door shattered by a brick and the words, "F--- the Jews" scrawled on the Dumpster. While investigative steps were taken after the March 27 incident was reported, police have suspended the investigation because there are no suspects, said Lt. Cynthia Harris of the Berkeley Police Department said. "If we develop some leads, we will reopen the case," Harris said.
Although there is no proof that the incident is connected to the recent upsurge in violence in the Middle East, those familiar with the atmosphere on the UC Berkeley campus suspect that it most definitely is.
"Given the history of events at Berkeley Hillel over the past year-and-a-half, I have no doubt whatsoever that this is related to what's going on in the Middle East, and people's hateful and violent responses to it," said Adam Weisberg, executive director of Berkeley Hillel.
Jonathan Bernstein, Central Pacific regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said that his organization has long looked to the college campuses as a "barometer of where society is heading." That is particularly disturbing, he said, since "these are people who are going to be the future leaders of our country, and you can get an idea what could possibly spread into the rest of society from the campuses. Looking at what's going on could make one very nervous right now, particularly at Berkeley."
Jessica Oleon, president of the Jewish Students Union said, "The rest of campus doesn't always feel so safe for Jewish students, so this was really a violation of a space that is safe." Oleon was one of about 30 students who attended a meeting last Tuesday to process the attack and talk about preventive measures that could be taken in the future.
Oleon had asked the assistant chancellor and dean of students to attend because she wanted them to hear firsthand that Jewish students were feeling under attack on campus.
As Jewish students report feeling more and more under siege on local campuses, the ADL hopes to offer students support.
"We're developing better strategies for getting the kind of responses we need from administrators and campus police," Bernstein said. In general, he said, "the response has been rather tepid, in my view, which sets a tone and creates an environment where these kinds of things are allowed to continue." -- Alexandra J. Wall, The Jewish Bulletin of Northern California
Yom HaShoah at Wiesenthal Center
Approximately 1,000 people, including dignitaries like Mayor James Hahn and diplomats from around the world, attended the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration at the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance on April 9. Speakers, including Hahn, Israel Consul General Yuval Rotem and the Wiesenthal Center's Rabbi Marvin Hier, recalled the tragedy of the Holocaust and denounced the current violence against Jews in Israel, Europe and here in Los Angeles.
In addition to honoring the memory of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, Hier, the founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, spoke of the recurrence of violent anti-Semitism. "I believe that once again, with the exception of the United States, Israel stands alone," he told the crowd,
The commemoration also honored The Righteous Among the Nations, non-Jews who risked their lives to protect Jews from the Nazis. Nicholas Winton, now 92 and living in London, was honored for his efforts in saving nearly 700 Czechoslovakian children during World War II. His daughter, Barbara, traveled from London to accept the honor on her father's behalf. -- Mike Levy, Staff Writer