Stanley Sheinbaum is in his element. As 40 members of Americans for Peace Now and their allies sip white wine, nibble brie and heatedly discuss the economic and moral injustices of Israel's occupation, the éminence grise of liberalism watches and listens with the rapt attention of the Stanford University graduate student he once was. When guest speaker Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) says that the "ethical aspiration of Judaism is to stand up for the downtrodden," including African Americans, homosexuals and Palestinians, Sheinbaum nods his head in agreement.
There were three acts to the small luncheon held last Sunday in a private dining room at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The first act was the only pleasant one.
Ten Los Angeles Jews gathered at the invitation of philanthropists and activists Stanley Sheinbaum and Alan Gleitsman to share a meal and views with Syrian Minister of Expatriots Dr. Buthaina Shaaban, an adviser to President Bashir Assad, and Dr. Imad Moustapha, Syria's acting ambassador to the United States, on what was their first official visit to Los Angeles.
The meeting was arranged at the initiative of Dr. Hazem Chehabi, a nuclear medicine specialist who also serves as Syria's honorary consul general in Southern California. The doctor attended the lunch along with his wife and two aides. The idea was to have a frank, cordial and completely on-the-record interchange of views between two groups who rarely, if ever, interact: American Jews and Syrian Muslims.