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Community Briefs

May 27, 2004 | 8:00 pm

Long-Term Sinai Akiba Teachers Honored

Twenty-nine teachers who have worked at Sinai Akiba Academy in west Los Angeles for at least seven years will receive up to $5,000 a piece for recognition of their long service.

The teacher appreciation award, endowed with a $200,000 gift from high-tech entrepreneur Neil Kadisha and his philanthropist wife, Dora, will pay $3,000 to teachers with seven years or more experience. Teachers with at least 20 years at the school, including 36-year veteran Rivka Shaked, will receive $5,000.

Going forward, teachers receiving the $3,000 award this year are ineligible for additional payments until they reach the 20-year-mark, when they qualify for a one-time $5,000 award.

"These awards are a huge morale boost for our teachers," said Larry Scheindlin, headmaster at Sinai Akiba. "It is through them that our traditions and values are passed on to the next generation."

The awards will be officially announced June 1 at Sinai Akiba's teacher appreciation luncheon. -- Marc Ballon, Senior Writer

'Wall' Burning Possible Hate Crime

The burning of a mock "security wall," erected by Arab students on the Irvine campus of the University of California, is being investigated as a possible arson attack and hate crime.

The wall, consisting of stacked cardboard boxes and measuring 6-by-8 feet, went up in flames late last week in the university's main quad.

UCI's Society of Arab Students had obtained a permit to put up the wall to protest the security fence built by Israel as a barrier against terrorist infiltration.

"It's assumed to be a politically motivated act," but might have been merely a target of opportunity, said UCI spokesman Tom Vasich, according to the Orange County Register.

A signboard for a campus convenience store was set on fire at the same time, but police were uncertain whether the two incidents were connected.

The Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) urged the FBI and police to investigate the wall burning as a hate crime, "because of the ethnic and religious nature of the display and its sponsors."

There had been no threat or complaint about the wall, which had been standing for a week, Vasich said. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Nobel Laureate Says Judaism Not to Blame

Human rights activists Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, said that Judaism is not to blame for Jewish violence in Israel, drawing parallels to Christian misdeeds in Bosnia and Muslims in the Middle East who kill in the name of Allah. "Moses was a harbinger of justice and right," she said.

Ebadi's comments came during a Burkle Center-sponsored appearance at UCLA's Royce Hall on May 14, which drew about 1,400 people. During her address she also called on the government of Iran to release political prisoners and reform election law.

"Separate the faults of people from religion and culture," Ebadi added. "Not only are the cultures not in conflict with one another but they have a lot of common ground." -- Adam Wills, Associate Editor

Olympic-Size Anti-Semitism

In the runup to the August Olympic Games in Athens, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to vigorously protest to the Greek government the continuing "epidemic" of anti-Semitic rhetoric and hate crimes.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Center's associate dean, transmitted to IOC President Jacques Rogge a timeline report, citing "anti-Semitic and racist invective [in the mainstream Greek media], which has become a scourge that has reached epidemic proportions, making Greece the greatest net producer of anti-Semitism in Europe today."

The report, "25 Months of Anti-Semitic Invective in Greece: March 2002 - April 2004," was compiled by the Center and the Greek Helsinki Monitor.

At the same time, the Wiesenthal Center renewed its advisory on travel to Greece, suggesting that visitors "use extreme caution."

Despite a series of meetings with high Greek officials, Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Center's European director, noted that "Greece has done nothing to pursue those guilty of hate crimes, to condemn Nazi-style slurs in the media or even to express its concern at the situation to the Greek people."

In a related development, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) met Friday with Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis and asked him to reevaluate his country's policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Specifically, Sherman pressed Karamanlis to state clearly that "the so-called right of return of Palestinian refugees should simply means the right to return to a Palestinian state."

Sherman added that "I would like to see European countries ... state exactly what the King of Jordan told me, that we cannot insist on the right of return for the Palestinians, except a right to immigrate to a newly created Palestinian state.

"A two-state solution means a Jewish and an Arab state, not two Arab states, one formerly known as Israel."

Sherman is the ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights. -- TT

College Library System Gets Israeli Help

Following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's visit to Israel, Jerusalem high-tech company Ex Libris announced the sale of its library portal software MetaLib to the California Digital Library, a service that catalogs and collates 26 million books in California's university libraries. Ex Libris products are in use in about 80 libraries in 50 countries. -- AW

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