April 1, 2004
Center Launches Appeal on 12 Jews Missing in Iran
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is asking concerned people around the world to join in a Passover appeal for 12 Jews missing in Iran, some up to 10 years.
Eleven of the men, ranging in age from 15 to 57 at the time of their disappearances, were detained by Iranian authorities while trying to cross the border into Pakistan between 1994 and 1997. In addition, a Jewish businessman living in Tehran disappeared in 1997 while visiting a provincial capital.
"The 12 Jews are believed to be alive, but their families have never heard from them and have been unable to get any information from the government," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center. "This is a humanitarian appeal, cutting across political lines."
A Web site has been established that includes photos of nine of the missing men and a petition for assistance addressed to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Secretary of State Colin Powell, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the Iranian U.N. representative, Dr. Mohammad Zarif.
For information and participation in the humanitarian campaign, go to www.wiesenthal.com/mailings_swc/swc_mar1604.htm. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Arab Americans Stage Protest at Israeli Consulate
About 200 Arab American activists, students, parents and children converged for a three-hour protest March 27 in front of the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles, with small children chanting Palestinian slogans and speakers praising the assassinated Hamas terrorist leader, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin.
"We're here to celebrate Sheikh Yassin's life," said an Oakland-based Muslim cleric to the Wilshire Boulevard crowd. "We're kinda jealous. He's a martyr. Sheikh Yassin gets a level of paradise that is [only] below the prophets. We got the truth, and that's all we need."
Israel's targeted assassination of Yassin on March 22 fueled the rally's rage. One protester held up a wheelchair in honor of the wheelchair-bound terrorist leader, while the Muslim cleric described Hamas as, "our heroes -- not terrorists, they are our freedom fighters."
Several teenage boys covered their faces with kaffiyehs, apparently mimicking the kaffiyeh-covered faces of Hamas terrorists at Yassin memorials on the West Bank. Standing among the protesters was a staff representative of the Southern California chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations; a few feet from her at the curb were five Arab-American children under age 10 chanting, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!"
The chant refers to the Hamas ideology that some day Palestinians will control all Israeli and West Bank land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
The noisy event was peaceful, except for some shouting between the pro-Palestinian demonstrators and about 20 pro-Israel counterdemonstrators across the street, where homeless activist Ted Hayes held a U.S. flag alongside Jewish activists with Israeli flags.
The consulate protest was organized by the far-left antiwar group Answer (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) and its ally, the Free Palestine Alliance. There were also speakers from the Muslim Student Association and two Jewish speakers who condemned Israel for what one said was, "state terrorism perpetrated by the Jewish State."
References to Israel as a Nazi-like power were evident in various swastikas on placards and two large photos showing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with a Hitler mustache. A speaker from the local chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee denounced Israel as terrorist state.
On April 10, some UCLA student activists will launch "Palestine Awareness Week" with films and lectures. On April 23 in Whittier, activists opposed to Israeli demolition of suspected terrorist homes will protest the bulldozer manufacturer Caterpillar. -- David Finnigan, Contributing Writer