Next month, California voters will take sides in what has been an epic battle over Proposition 87, called the Clean Energy Alternative Act.
Racially motivated brawls at Jefferson High School this spring made the school appear, at times, like a miniwar zone. Which makes it especially interesting that L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) officials are learning lessons from Israeli and West Bank schools, where violence, even terrorism, is an ever-present undercurrent.
The person bringing those lessons to Los Angeles is USC professor Ron Avi Astor, who has spent his career studying school violence in Israel and the United States. His newest book, co-written with Israeli professor Rami Benbenishty of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, is titled, "School Violence in Contest: Culture, Neighborhood, Family, School, and Gender." The two scholars conducted studies encompassing 30,000 Israeli students at a time.
Between 150,000 and 300,000 expatriate Israelis live in the Los Angeles area, and some of them are pushing for the right to cast absentee ballots in Israeli elections.
At the moment, Benjamin Netanyahu is working under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as finance minister, but at a stop in Beverly Hills last week, Netanyahu sounded like he'd rather have Sharon's job.
"Bibi," who served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999, has denied rumors that he will soon resign his post, but has been sounding more and more like a political candidate in recent months.
Most notably, he's staked out a position opposing Sharon's plan to evacuate settlers and troops next month from the Gaza Strip.
Last November, California voters easily passed Proposition 71, which provides $3 billion in state grants for embryonic stem cell research. Jews supported Proposition 71 in much higher numbers than most voters.
Two of the initiative's primary backers, Robert Klein and film producer Jerry Zucker ("Airplane," "Ghost" and "First Knight"), are Jewish. Klein has become head of the committee overseeing the new California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which will award Proposition 71 funds. Zucker has more or less returned to the sidelines. He talked to The Journal about his role in Proposition 71 and the politics and science of stem cells.
Briefs; Council Adds Some Fire to Mayoral Race; Love and Marriage – and Welfare
"He's a soul mate in terms of environmental sensitivity and good government," said Dave Freeman, about mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa. Freeman, former head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP), paused for just a moment, then continued in his Southern accent, "I just think he has the ability to advance an agenda more focused on what I consider Jewish values."
While the Los Angeles mayoral candidates battle over the proposed $11 billion expansion of Los Angeles International Airport, a study completed by the RAND Corp. think- tank on the airport's security has gone under the proverbial radar.
The wind grows colder, the days shorter and a 165-page, gray book of propositions arrives in everybody's mailbox. Welcome to the election season -- for Californians.
"I'd love to tell you I'm some brilliant mastermind that chartered this treaty, but the reality is that week by week, we're still working the streets," William "Blinky" Rodriguez said about the gang treaty he helped broker to bring rival groups together to talk. "We'd be out until 2, 3, 4 in the morning."
Hundreds of people -- politicians and rabbis, Democrats and Republicans, Americans and Israelis, young and old -- squeezed past dozens of tables to find their assigned seats for dinner.
Just two weeks after CBS News broke the story that the FBI has been investigating an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) staffer for alleged espionage, the pro-Israel lobby hosted its largest event ever in the San Fernando Valley.
Jewish parents have good reason to be interested in public school test scores released by the California Department of Education on Aug. 31, although they may need help deciphering them.
"I've been working at the Century Plaza for three years. I've had only a 44-cent raise, and I have two children. It's hard to support a family with this salary," hotel worker Sonya Lopez told a crowd in Roxbury Park at the Progressive Jewish Alliance's (PJA) Aug. 8 event, "Justice in the Park," to educate groups on the hotel workers' position.
Since their extended contract expired June 1, unionized workers at nine Los Angeles hotels have been embroiled in a struggle with hotel management over new terms. Aside from a battle over wages and other benefits, the main sticking point between the two groups is the length of the contract.
Most of the workers are low-wage earners, starting at about $11 an hour, and many are recent immigrants.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) new report titled, "Unpatriotic Acts," warns that acts of hate against Muslims in the United States skyrocketed in 2003. At face value, the numbers are grim: CAIR notes a 70 percent increase in "reports of harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment" against Muslims in the United States between 2002 (602 acts) and 2003 (1,019 acts). That also represents a 300 percent increase between the years 2000 and 2003.
Those numbers, however, do not entirely speak for themselves. Tracking hate is a complex process; statistics may be influenced by outside variables. That's especially true since the CAIR report also includes noncriminal acts of discrimination, sometimes called "hate incidents." CAIR is not alone in using this methodology: Some groups tracking anti-Semitism do the exact same thing.