Nearly a dozen L.A.-area Iranian Muslim news media outlets packed a room at UCLA's Covel Commons on June 29 for a press conference held by freshman state Assemblyman Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon) regarding new Iran divestment legislation he introduced earlier this year.
The bill, also known as ACR 79, symbolically calls on the University of California Board of Regents to divest nearly $2 billion in employee pension funds invested in companies doing business in Iran. Last October, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law legislation Anderson had drafted requiring state pension funds to divest roughly $200 million from companies working with Iran's regime.
Anderson said he has spearheaded Iran divestment legislation because of his concern for Israel and America's security amid Iran's growing ambitions to obtain nuclear weapons.
"We want to ask the UC Regents to take a big step toward world peace and avoid the potential genocide of 6 million Jews if those nuclear weapons are enacted by Iran's regime," Anderson said.
Local Iranian Jewish activist and director of the Committee for Minority Rights in Iran, Frank Nikbakht, was on hand to translate Anderson's statements into Persian, which would later be broadcast around the world and into Iran. Since last year, Anderson's stance on Iran divestment has received wide support from Iranian Americans of various religions throughout California.
-- Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer
Pali High Students Win B'nai B'rith College Scholarship
With the aid of the B'nai B'rith Jewish Human Rights Organization, two recent graduates from Palisades Charter High School can add "writer" to their resumes. On June 12, Breayanna Robins and Milena Tyler von Wrangel won a writing competition in which their book, "Millie Brown Sees Music," received the top award -- a $5,000 college scholarship to be shared by the pair.
The book will be professionally published, sold on Amazon and distributed to libraries. Rose Gilbert, the teacher who oversaw the winning entry, received a $500 stipend for classroom materials.
B'nai B'rith International, a human rights and advocacy organization that seeks to spread tolerance and acceptance about and around the Jewish community, last year launched the Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge, a competition to write a book about tolerance and acceptance for all.
"Millie" was both written and illustrated by Robins and Tyler von Wrangel. In the story, Millie, with the help of her teacher, Mrs. Flows, learns that music is a colorful and universal means of teaching tolerance and acceptance. Armed with the knowledge that music can cross all barriers, Millie, in a sing-songy voice, teaches her newly learned lesson to her fellow classmates, who in turn embrace the notion that "music is simply colors."
Written for children of all ages, "Millie" is a short picture book written in rhyme, with illustrations that complement both its overarching theme and the goal of the B'nai B'rith challenge: through the colors of music, the world isn't really that separated after all.
For more information on Diverse Minds, visit www.bnaibrith.org/diverseminds.
-- Molly Binenfeld, Contributing Writer
ADL-Hosted Trip to D.C. Unites Diverse Teens
For 10 years, the Anti-Defamation League's National Youth Leadership program has offered high schoolers free educational and engaging trips to the nation's capital -- and this year will be no different.
Courtesy of the Grosfeld family, 100 students nationwide -- including 10 Los Angeles high school juniors -- can look forward to an innovative program bringing inquisitive teens together to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., from Nov. 16-19.
In preparation for the trip, where students will learn about the Holocaust and ways to fight prejudice, participants will engage in six meetings facilitated by ADL's Dream Dialogue program, a diverse youth group digging into heated topics, such as racism and stereotyping.
"This year will be particularly special," said Marisa Romo, assistant project director for A World of Difference Institute. "It's not only Israel's anniversary, but will fall right after the presidential election," she explained, "Washington, D.C., will be a very interesting place to be."
The trip, which includes airfare, hotel, all meals and a guided tour of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, culminates with a ceremony highlighting the importance of youths' roles in bringing lessons they learned from their experiences back to their own communities and schools.
For information on the Anti-Defamation League, visit http://www.adl.org.
-- Celia Soudry, Contributing Writer