Archive for the ‘Jewish American Heritage Month’ Category

NFL, Players Union Meet to Discuss and Strategize Social Activism


The National Football League has met with the players union, the NFLPA, to discuss the national anthem protests that have plagued the last two seasons of football, reports say.

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Saints Coach Sean Payton: More Americans Killed by Guns Than From All U.S. Wars Combined


Sean Payton tweeted that more Americans have been killed by guns since 1968 than have been killed on battlefields throughout US history.

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Mark Cuban: I’m ‘Considering’ Running for President

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Tuesday on CNN contributor Bakari Sellers’ podcast “ViewPoint,” NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he was “considering” running for president. When asked about seeking the high office, Cuban said, “Yes. Considering, yes. Ready to commit to it, no.” He added, “If I can come up with solutions that I think people can get behind and truly slove problems then it makes perfect sense for me to run. If it comes down to, ‘Do I think I can win because I can convince more people to vote for me?’ Then no, I won’t run.” (h/t WFB) Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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Heath: Reflections on an American tragedy – Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Imagine for a moment if after the Nazi holocaust, Germany passed segregation legislation, circumscribing where Jewish survivors could live, work, eat and play.

Imagine that instead of being persecuted for their despicable crimes, the architects of the concentration camps found leading roles in government, academia, and other privileged positions in public life.

Imagine if, in addition, ex-Nazis banded together to form a domestic terrorism group, the Aryan Klux Klan, with the express purpose of roaming the country and keeping the Jews in line. More specifically, this group reacts to the slightest indiscretion rolling ones eyes, talking back to an Aryan, engaging in interracial romance by punishing and sometimes torturing Jews, sometimes in front of a cheering crowd.

Imagine if Aryan Germans conspired to keep the Jews economically downtrodden by underfunding their schools, segregating them into ghettos, and only hiring them for the most menial, low-wage positions. And then when the Jews suffered disproportionate rates of poverty and crime, Aryans claimed it was due to their inherent inferiority.

Imagine that this same demographic worked to eliminate Jewish voting rights through discriminatory laws and threats of violence, so no pro-Jewish politicians could have a chance of getting elected.

Imagine this status quo lasted for a century, until a Jewish civil rights movement emerged, that only after decades of mass protest eliminated all these unjust laws and conditions.

Imagine that even this modicum of progress was tainted in that Aryan Germans only agreed to eliminate legal bigotry and did little to close the disparities in wealth, education, and access to health care Jews suffered from.

Imagine that, as a result, Jews today had less than a tenth of the wealth Aryans did, a shorter life expectancy, twice as much poverty, and were far more likely to die in childbirth.

Imagine that Aryans did little to help Jews in the ghettos and instead turned a blind eye as they became crime-ridden killing fields, destroyers of children and the aged alike.

Imagine that, after all that trauma, injustice and terror, the first Jewish president of Germany managed to be elected. He is the ideal man, elegant, educated, well-spoken, with a beautiful family to boot, a gift to his nation.

Morally, he is magnanimous enough to forgive his countrymen for their crimes against his community. He shockingly believes deep in his bones that national unity Ayrans and Jews standing together is not only necessary, but possible.

Then imagine if, in response, Aryan citizens doubted his legitimacy, his worth as a German, and claimed he was really born in Israel.

Image that this charge was given weight by some of the nations most prominent leaders, and that one of these men, a billionaire business tycoon, used his attack on the president to launch his political career.

Imagine that after eight years of the first Jewish president, of his legitimacy, dignity, and character being constantly attacked, that same tycoon gets elected to office himself.

Imagine this all occurs during a time when German police slaughter hundreds of Jewish citizens every year for such acts as selling cigarettes, playing with a toy gun, reaching for a wallet, or leaving a house party. Consequently, this circumstance makes Jews so afraid that their kids can be found at city council meetings with wet tears on their cheeks, begging for the violence to stop.

Imagine that even the cries of children werent enough for Aryan society to change.

I, of course, am not talking about Germanys history, but our own.

As the terrorism in Charlottesville revealed this month, the same evil that animated slavery, Jim Crow, and the creation of the ghettos is alive and well in our country. It is with us for a very simple reason: as a people, we have not truly reckoned with our history and taken the steps needed to bring justice to the African American community.

After World War II, Germany took a series of transformative measures to atone for its sins: it paid Jewish citizens reparations, banned public displays of Nazism and enacted legislation to ensure future generations of Germans would know the full extent of the Holocaust.

By contrast, this country turned the other way as many African Americans languish without economic opportunity, whitewashed its history, and still has regular debates over whether the confederate flag is heritage or hate.

If Germany treated its Jewish citizens the way we treat African Americans, we would think the Germans were a bunch of barbarians. And so the question remains: how should we view ourselves?

Joshua Heath is a Stevenson Ranch resident and a political science student at UCLA. He has served two terms as a delegate to the California Democratic Party.

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

Senators concerned about extremist summer camp – Heritage Florida Jewish News

A summer camp activity of the “Go Palestine” program, at the Israeli security fence along the border with the disputed territories.

Two prominent U.S. senators are raising questions about an American-funded school in Ramallah that is running an extremist summer camp for Palestinian teens from around the world, many of them Americans.

The controversial summer program, called “Go Palestine,” is run by the Ramallah Friends School, a 148-year-old Quaker institution in the Palestinian Authority’s de facto capital. Its stated mission is to provide Palestinian teens from abroad with “introductions to Palestinian culture, cuisine, life and work, and the Arabic language.”

But in addition to traditional summer camp fare, Go Palestine participants are immersed in anti-Israel films and lectures by militants, some with terrorist connections.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) gave the Ramallah Friends School $800,000 in 2016 to make various improvements to its facilities. USAID also sent the school $700,000 in 2015, $900,000 in 2014 and similar amounts in prior years, through its “American Schools and Hospitals Abroad” program. The school is owned and operated by the Indiana-based Friends United Meeting, one of the major divisions of the Quaker movement.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the evidence gathered by JNS.org concerning Go Palestine is “disturbing” and that USAID “must immediately investigate it.” Schumer added, “If true, this school should be cut off because entities that receive USAID should be teaching about democracy and coexistence-not intolerance or extremism.”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is a longtime supporter of USAID’s assistance to overseas schools, but “the allegations described are quite concerning” and Cardin “has reached out to USAID for an explanation,” a spokesperson for the senator told JNS.org.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JNS.org, “I endorse the calls by Senators Schumer and Cardin for an investigation to make sure that no U.S. government funds are being used, directly or indirectly, to support a camp that promotes BDS or other anti-Israel extremism.”

A USAID spokesperson told JNS.org the agency “has not provided any support to the ‘Go Palestine’ program.” USAID’s grants to the Ramallah Friends School, which hosts and operates Go Palestine, were “for construction and durable commodities,” including improvements to the buildings on campus. The USAID spokesperson did not address the fact that Go Palestine participants make use of those buildings on various occasions each summer.

Rejecting Israel’s existence

The three-week Go Palestine program, which began in the summer of 2011, accepts 40-50 campers each year. It costs $2,150 per camper, plus airfare. Although the camp has not released a complete breakdown of the participants by nationality, the “camper profiles” shown on its website from 2011-2013 indicate Americans were the single-largest contingent. Other campers hailed from the U.K., Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Several came from what the website calls “Haifa, Palestine.”

Haifa is located within pre-1967 Israel, not in the disputed territories. The camp’s use of “Haifa, Palestine” is one of the many indications that rejection of Israel’s right to exist is an integral part of the camp’s ideology.

The camp’s own descriptions of each year’s activities from 2013-2017 report that the teens are shown films such as “Occupation 101” and “Jerusalem: The East Side Story,” which depict Israel as a racist, savage oppressor. A panel on “Youth Activism and Engagement in Palestine” featured representatives of “the Love Under Apartheid Campaign [and] the BDS movement.” Officials of a group called “Right to Education” explained to the campers that all Israeli universities should be boycotted, since they are part of “the structure of systemic oppression.”

This summer’s campers heard “an inspiring lecture from Nasser Ibrahim,” whom the camp describes as “a renowned journalist, author, and teacher.” Ibrahim has been associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group. He has served as editor of the PFLP weekly publication El Hadaf, and is deputy director of the Palestinian Union of Health Work Committees, which USAID has characterized as a PFLP affiliate.

The 2016 and 2015 campers visited “the monument erected for the Martyrs of Birzeit.” The monument, on the campus of Birzeit University near Ramallah, memorializes students who were killed while engaging in violence against Israelis.

The 2015 campers met in Bethlehem with “ex-prisoners,” and heard about their “experience in the Israeli occupation jails.” Palestinian “ex-prisoners” often are convicted terrorists.

Go Palestine’s directors declined to respond to requests from JNS.org to identify the crimes for which those ex-prisoners were jailed, nor did they respond to inquiries concerning other aspects of their summer program.

The online brochure for Go Palestine promises that it “will change your child’s life forever,” and video blogs on its website illustrate the impact the program has had on its participants. A camper named Nidalia Nazzal, from California, declares, “Now I appreciate all the people fighting for freedom.” Sama Sarraj, a teenager from Maryland, pledges that her “top priority” will be to “educate people and raise awareness” about “the situation of the Palestinian people.”

Role of the Quakers

The activities of the Go Palestine program could further complicate the already strained relations between the Quaker leadership and the American Jewish community. The Quakers’ public policy division, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), has endorsed the BDS movement and sponsors training programs for boycott activists.

Middle East scholar Asaf Romirowsky, who has written extensively about Quaker attitudes toward Israel, told JNS.org it is “hypocritical” for Quaker leaders to claim to be pacifists and advocates of coexistence “while their Ramallah school is training teenagers from around the world to hate Israel and idolize terrorists.”

JNS.org asked Shan Cretin, general secretary of AFSC, if Go Palestine’s activities are consistent with AFSC’s mission statement, which emphasizes “active nonviolence and the transforming power of love.” Cretin replied, “There is no connection between AFSC and the Ramallah Friends School,” which runs the camp.

According to AFSC’s website, however, Cretin will be succeeded next month as general secretary by Joyce Ajlouny, who has been head of the Ramallah Friends School for the past 13 years. Jennifer Berg, the director of AFSC’s “Palestine-Israel Program,” was formerly a teacher at the school.

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After Barcelona, French Jewish Leader Calls For ‘Immediate Eradication’ Of Terrorism – Forward

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(JTA) Following the death of a pedestrian in what appeared to be a vehicular terrorist attack in Marseille, a leader of the local Jewish community called for the immediate eradication of terrorism.

Bruno Benjamin, the president of the local branch of the CRIF umbrella of Jewish communities, wrote the message on Twitter on Monday, shortly after police arrested a man they suspect is connected to the slaying of one woman and the serious injury of another woman in a car-ramming attack that morning.

Police cannot confirm that the incident was a terrorist attack, a police source told the Le Soir daily.

#Marseille, terrorism knows no borders, terrorists have no limits and no humanity. Today, a total eradication is necessary, Benjamin wrote in the unusually harshly worded message. We cannot comprehend these levels of hatred and capacity for terrorism, he added.

A prosecutor in Marseille said the incident appeared to be the work of a mentally ill person, the La Chane Info news channel reported.

The incident comes on the heels of deadly terrorist attacks in and around Barcelona on Thursday and Friday, where 14 people were killed when a van plowed through a crowd.

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A California suburb reckons with its Nazi past and present-day controversy follows – Salon

La Crescenta, California, is a long way from Charlottesville, Virginia, but both communities have recently had to deal with controversies involving Nazis, white supremacy, and the removal of a public monument that symbolized bigotry. In Charlottesville, the controversy erupted in violence and became national news. In La Crescenta, a suburb of Los Angeles, the dispute was resolved through spirited but nonviolent meetings and discussions. Not surprisingly, the La Crescenta experience generated few headlines.

Members of Nazi, Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups descended on Charlottesville reportedly to preserve a 26-foot tall statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederal general and traitor to his country, erected in a local park that was once named after him. The statue of Lee, on his horse with hat in hand, had stood in the park since 1924, a time of resurgent white supremacy, KKK activism, and lynching. In April, the Charlottesville City Council voted to sell and remove the statue and rechristen Lee Park as Emancipation Park. Local white supremacists went to court to oppose the removal and a circuit court judge issued an injunction prohibiting any sale or removal for six months.

Stopping the removal of the Lee statue was the excuse that Nazis and other white supremacists used to organize a march and rally in Charlottesville brandishing torches, bats, and guns. One of them drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. The controversy was compounded when President Donald Trump refused to forcefully condemn the white supremacists, who then celebrated Trumps remarks as signifying support for their views and actions.

Last Friday a week after the Nazis came to Charlottesville about 50 people gathered in Crescenta Valley Community Regional Park to celebrate a victory over hate and bigotry. A large contingent from the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department was on hand at the event, concerned that local white supremacist groups might try to disrupt the festivities, but no protesters showed up.

The controversy started in February 2016 when a German-American group erected a six-foot sign at the entrance to the park, located in La Crescenta, an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County adjacent to Glendale. The sign greeted visitors with the words Willkommen zum, written in a German typeface, followed by Welcome to Hindenburg Park, and below that The Historic German Section of Crescenta Valley Park. At the bottom of the sign was the countys official seal and the words Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. That area had originally been named for Paul von Hindenburg, Germanys president from 1925 to 1934, and the man who appointed Adolf Hitler as German chancellor in 1933.

The group that paid for the sign, the Tricentennial Foundation, claimed that it was intended to celebrate the areas German American heritage. But the sign failed to mention the parks ugly past as a site of Nazi rallies and a Nazi youth camp during the 1930s. Now, thanks to a new display erected in the park, the public will learn about this controversial history.

Despite the official seal, the county did not pay for the sign, which cost $2,500. The Tricentennial Foundation, a German heritage organization based in the North Hills section of Los Angeles, worked with the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley to fund the sign. The foundations aim was to preserve the historical integrity of the site, said Hans Eberhard, the groups 85-year old chairman.

Some proponents of the sign argued that they heard no objections about it before the county approved it.

Thats because hardly anyone knew about it until it was put up, explained Jason Moss, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. If it had been a public process, Im sure people would have opposed it. But soon after it was put up, we started voicing our concerns.

Soon after it was installed, Carol Dorbacopoulos, who lives nearby and frequently walks in the park, noticed the new sign.

I knew about the areas Nazi history and I was upset, she recalled. Calls and emails to County officials got no response until she contacted Mona Field, a retired Glendale College professor and a former elected member of the Los Angeles Community College District board. After Field began informing and mobilizing local residents, what appeared to be a harmless historical marker became the subject of controversy. Field and her allies knew that despite the sign the parks correct name was not Hindenburg Park but Crescenta Valley Community Regional Park, and that it was owned and operated by Los Angeles County.

Civil rights, human rights and faith-based groups mobilized a campaign to persuade county officials to take down the sign and replace it with another that would tell an accurate history of that site. Local residents signed petitions, contacted local elected officials and conducted research to uncover the parks ugly but mostly forgotten history.

I think theres a way we can honor German-American culture, but also not forget what took place at that park, Moss told local officials last year.

In April 2016, the countys Human Relations Commission held a public hearing on the issue that attracted more than 200 people, the vast majority of them opposed to the new sign. Under pressure, County Parks and Recreation Department officials remove the sign the next month and appointed a committee to create a new display that accurately represented the parks history with texts and photos. The new display, explaining the sites history, was unveiled on Friday.

Had local political officials and business groups done their research, they might have predicted that the sign would generate controversy, given the parks history as a gathering place for American Nazis and Nazi sympathizers.

The German American League acquired the land in 1925, named it Hindenburg Park, and maintained it as a private gathering for local German Americans, who held dances, picnics and other events there.

Had the park simply been a place where German Americans celebrated their cultural heritage, it would hardly be contentious. But the site also has a much more troubling history.

Although the German American League may have been founded to celebrate German culture, it always had a political side. According to a 1937 article in Life magazine, the group was the Nazi organization in the U.S., previously known as the Friends of the New Germany.

This countrys major pro-Nazi group the German-American Bund, which sought to promote a favorable view of Nazi Germany and urged Americans to boycott Jewish-owned business used the park for its events. At Hindenburg Park and elsewhere, Bund rallies not only featured Nazi flags but also American flags, claiming that its members were patriotic Americans. In fact, the Bund claimed that George Washington was the first Fascist.

As early as 1936, the Bund operated 19 Nazi-inspired youth camps across the United States. One of them, Camp Sutter, was located at Hindenburg Park.

In an interview last year, Arnie Bernstein, author of the Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund, explained that the purpose of these Bund youth camps was to indoctrinate children in Nazi ideology. Like most summer camps, the children participated in sports, hikes, arts and crafts and other activities. But they also were taught about Aryan supremacy and told to be loyal to the Bund, its leader Fritz Kuhn, and Adolph Hitler. They wore uniforms similar to those worn by the Hitler Youth group in Germany. They were forced to march around in the middle of the night carrying Bund and American flags, sing the Nazi anthem, give the Nazi salute, and shout Sieg Heil. As part of their camp activities, they were inculcated with Nazi propaganda. A Congressional investigation also uncovered sexual abuse between the adults and campers, Bernstein said

In February 1939, Kuhn, who was often called the American Fuehrer, spoke at a pro-Nazi Bund rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City that attracted over 20,000 people. There he repeatedly referred to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as Frank D. Rosenfeld, called his New Deal the Jew Deal, and stated that the Jews are enemies of the United States.

Later that month, the Bund held another rally at its West Coast headquarters at 634 West 15th Street in Los Angeles in building known as the Deutsch Haus (German House). The building was a site for pro-Nazi meetings and also housed a restaurant and beer hall as well as the Aryan Bookstore, where one could purchase the Bund newspaper, Hitlers manifesto Mein Kamp, and other Nazi literature. The Deutsch Haus also screened German anti-Semitic propaganda films with titles like Kosher Slaughter.

A few months later, on April 30, 1939, the Bund held a rally in Hindenburg Park, promoted as a celebration of Hitlers birthday ten days later. Over 2,000 German-American Bund members came to hear Kuhn and West Coast Bund leader Herman Max Schwinn.

According to the Los Angeles Times: Clad in a gray-and-black storm trooper uniform and flanked by a dozen uniformed guards, Kuhn spoke from a stage draped in red swastika banners. The crowd cheered Kuhn and booed as a low-flying plane, sponsored by the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, bombarded the park with thousands of anti-Hitler leaflets.

When it was Schwimms turn to speak, he read a telegram he had sent to President Franklin D. Roosevelt: Do everything in your power to quarantine the United States against alien influences which are at work to drag the nation into war. By alien influences he meant Jews, whom the Bund correctly believed were trying to get the Roosevelt administration and Congress to oppose Hitlers efforts to take over Europe.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times that week, Kuhn spouted typical Nazi ideas. He falsely claimed that Jews occupied 62% of the high posts in the federal government and have plotted to get hold of almost everything, especially in New York and Hollywood.

That event was only one of many Bund and pro-Nazi events that took place at the park. These gatherings featured speakers from other American fascist organizations including the Silver Shirts, White Shirts, and Khaki Shirts as well as the Bund.

California State University-Northridge hosts a website and archive called In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda in Southern California, 1933-1945 that includes photos of Nazi rallies at Hindenburg Park. One shows members of the Bund erecting a huge swastika in the park. A two-minute clip from the documentary film Rancho La Canada includes footage of activities at Hindenburg Park, including the 1939 Nazi rally.

In December 1939, Kuhn was sentenced to two and a half to five years in prison for embezzlement, but the Bund briefly continued without him. Two years later, after the United States entered World War 2 against the Nazis, the Bund disappeared. In 1943, while he was serving his prison sentence, the U.S. cancelled Kuhns citizenship and deported him to Germany in 1945.

Historian Bernstein is quick to explain that most German Americans werent Nazis or Nazi sympathizers. Many, he said, were ashamed of Hitler and what was going on in Germany, and strongly denounced Kuhn and his followers.

The Bund was a small group compared with the number of German Americans living in the United States, he noted. But they were loud and noisy.

After the war, Hindenburg Park continued to be the site for German festivals. Southern Californias first Oktoberfest was held there in 1956.

While the German American League owned the park, a five-foot bust of Hindenburg adorned the grounds. In 1957, Los Angeles County purchased the land from the German-American League for $91,000, and removed the bust. The Board of Supervisors also abandoned the name Hindenburg Park and incorporated that section of the park into the larger Crescenta Valley County Park.

Over the next half-century, memories of the American Nazis presence at the park faded. By the start of this century, few people recalled that the Glendale area had not only been a stronghold of Nazi activism but also a breeding ground for other hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and the John Birch Society in the 1950s.

In the 1960s, Glendale was West Coast headquarters of the American Nazi Party. In 1962, when the KKK experienced a revival in response to the burgeoning civil rights movement, the Klan paraded down Glendales main thoroughfare, Brand Boulevard, with a horse brigade, marching band and burning cross.

As recently as 2012, a tiny hate group called the Crescenta Valley European American Society, promoting white identity and white pride, had a brief presence on the internet and sponsored a European American Heritage Festival at Hindenburg Park which generated controversy at the time but all manifestations of this group, including its website, soon disappeared.

The La Crescenta and Glendale areas are now more diverse than in earlier years, but the scars of racism, anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and other forms of bigotry never completely heal, as reflected in the upsurge of protest after the appearance of the new Welcome to Hindenburg Park sign last year.

Steve Pierce, a Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce board member, last year told the Glendale News Press: The sign is just recognizing the German culture that was in our community. I think thats important. Im very in support of that.

The Department of Parks and Recreations six-member advisory committee spent almost a year debating what words and photos to include on the new display and how much to focus on the parks Nazi activities. The process was initially contentious.

Eberhard, the Tricentennial Foundation chairman, opposed including any photos of swastikas on the new sign, claiming that people who hoisted flags bearing swastikas did so because it was the German flag at the time, not because they were Nazis.

He wants to sanitize history, said Carole Kulzer-Brennan, a first vice president of the German-American League of Los Angeles and a member of the advisory group.

Eberhard also insisted that the Nazi rallies were only a small part of the activities that occurred in the park during the 1930s.

That was almost 80 years ago, he said in an interview following Fridays unveiling ceremony. I dont see why thats still relevant.

I think it is unfortunate that the original sign was removed for no good reason, said Eberhard, who came to the United States from Germany in 1949 as a 17 year old.

He seemed either nave or willfully ignorant about the significance of the sites Nazi past.

Sign or no sign, it is still Hindenburg Park to many people in the community, he noted.

But other members of the advisory committee were pleased with the outcome.

It was a long drawn-out battle, but we reached a good consensus, said Kulzer-Brennan of the German-American League, which in September will sponsor its first event in the park since it sold the park in 1957 a German American Heritage Day picnic.

Through the months of discussion, we got a vivid reminder of the fruitful collaboration that can come from listening to others with care and respect, said committee member Mark Strunin, a consultant for nonprofit groups and former president of a nearby synagogue.

All four of my kids frequently go to the park and I was surprised when the sign suddenly appeared, said Sophal Ear, an elected member of the Crescenta Valley Town Council who was appointed to the advisory committee. I had no clue as to the history of the Nazi activities in the park.

A Cambodian refugee and a professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College, Ear said it was important to create a display that doesnt gloss over the past but illuminates it. Its absolutely crucial that we learn the lessons of history.

Mona Field, who helped lead the campaign to remove the offensive sign, called it a grassroots victory against those who would whitewash history. The new display, she said, tells the full story, good and bad, and makes clear that ideologies of hatred have no place in our community.

The display, recounting the parks history, mentions that in its early days the German-American League used the park for festivals and other cultural events, but also explains that it was also used for more controversial activities including the promotion of Nazi beliefs through political rallies and the Sutter Youth Camp. There, the display notes, American youth were indoctrinated into theories of Aryan superiority, which is described as part of Adolf Hitlers racist ideology. These were not simply harmless theories but, the display explains, led to persecution and murder of European Jews and any other group or individual who opposed Hitlers Third Reich regime.

The display includes photos of the entrance to the park, the park caretakers residence in the 1930s, an Easter Sunday service in the park in 1952, a musical comedy performance in the early 1950s, and a bust of Beethoven that was erected in the park. Theres also a 1944 photo of German American bomber pilots in front of a plane. This photo has nothing to do with the park or the Glendale area. One member of the advisory committee insisted that it be part of the display to show that German Americans were loyal patriots who served in the U.S. military during World War 2.

But the marker also includes photos of pro-Nazi activities that took place in the park in the 1930s a German American Bund Party choral group, in front of a swastika, a gathering that includes both American and Nazi flags, and a group of children in uniforms looking at the German American Bund Party flag. It does not include a well-known photo of Bund leader Fritz Kuhn speaking at the pro-Nazi rally in Hindenburg Park in April 1939. Only three of the displays nine photos deal with the parks Nazi past.

The display concludes with this statement: Although the events of the 20th century may seem distant, there continues to be a need to guard against all forms of hatred, racism, and totalitarian ideologies of all types. The American ideals of justice and equal opportunity still require our vigilant support.

When the advisory committee began deliberating over the design, photos, and wording of the new display, nobody could have anticipated that its unveiling would occur as the nation was reeling from an upsurge of neo-Nazi and white supremacist activism, emboldened by a president who failed to display moral leadership.

The events in Charlottesville are a sad reminder that Nazism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and racism still exist in our country, said the Jewish Federations Jason Moss. We cannot erase our history. But the new display in the park is a reminder of past events that took place in the community, and hopefully a way to ease the pain.

We showed that there are ways to work together through dialogue, observed Moss, instead of with torches and violence.

Peter Dreier is professor of politics and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest American of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books).

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School year dawns with no resolution for Alameda girl targeted with anti-Semitism – Jweekly.com

On Monday morning Aug. 21, 14-year-old Natasha Waldorf, who is Jewish, will start her sophomore year at Alameda High School.

In her class will be one of two boys who taunted her last semester, sending her text messages that included the word kike and other anti-Semitic insults, and the image of product mascot Mr. Clean in a Nazi uniform titled Mr. Ethnic Cleansing. In the halls she will pass two other students who taunted her that same week last January, joking about the Holocaust and, when confronted by Natasha, telling her that Hitler should have finished the job.

Alameda school authorities dont deny that these incidents, reported in a J. cover story in May, indeed occurred. This week, Alameda Unified School District Superintendent Sean McPhetridge told J., and the parents by email, that the situation has been handled appropriately.

Natashas parents, however, say otherwise. And they want something done.

They are not taking this seriously, Natashas father, Mel Waldorf, told J. These were threats. How is my daughter supposed to feel safe, with school starting Monday? How can [McPhetridge] say hes protecting a student when the kids who did this dont have to apologize and are sitting in her class for the rest of the year? Its egregious.

The Zionist Organization of America has taken up the case on behalf of Natasha and her family, alerting J. to the ongoing situation this week. The ZOA has been engaged since June in an email exchange with McPhetridge and with the high schools principal, Robert Ithurburn, which now seems to have reached an impasse.

Natashas parents, and the ZOA, want the school district to take five specific steps. At the top of the list: ensuring that all the students who taunted Natasha are made to apologize; instituting mandatory training programs for students, faculty and parents in how to recognize and combat anti-Semitism; and coming out forcefully and publicly in opposition to anti-Semitism.

McPhetridge says the district has followed correct protocol all along, although he is legally prevented from detailing what punishment, if any, the offending students have received. He says four of the five demands have been fulfilled, in substance if not in letter, and the fifth mandating parental training is not feasible. He reiterates his and the districts support for full inclusion for all faiths, ethnicities, races and gender identities.

Natashas parents and the ZOA say the district, specifically McPhetridge, arent taking their complaints seriously. McPhetridge, on the other hand, told J. this week that no incident in his decades of service has affected him like this one, and he takes it very seriously indeed. He insists that he wants to meet personally with Natasha and her parents to clear it up, as he met with the parents of three other children who suffered similar anti-Semitic taunting in Alameda schools.

As of late this week, Mel Waldorf said he was still waiting for a phone call from McPhetridge. And anyway, the ZOA says a face-to-face meeting wont solve anything the organization wants demonstrable action.

An impasse. And school starts Monday.

At the center of this conflict is Natasha, who, as detailed in a May 25 J. cover story and editorial, received a series of anonymous texts last January that taunted her for being Jewish and made threats about gas and ethnic cleansing. She discovered that a boy in her class, whom she thought was a friend, had sent the texts, egged on by a foreign exchange student. Eventually the first boy was made to apologize to her; her parents say the exchange student, who has since returned to his native Germany, never apologized and his parents werent even notified.

Later that same week, she and a friend overheard two other students joking about the Holocaust. One made the Hitler comment to her upon being confronted. Natashas parents then met with the schools assistant principal and dean, but as outlined in ZOA letters to McPhetridge, felt appropriate action was not taken. (That dean has since left the school district.)

The ZOA letters also charge that these incidents are not isolated. Natasha reported to her parents and to school administrators other examples of students making anti-Semitic comments, of swastika graffiti found on desks and walls, and making jokes about the Holocaust, sometimes in front of teachers. Anti-Semitic incidents also were reported at other schools in the district, including Edison Elementary, as covered in J.

On June 16, the ZOA first wrote to McPhetridge, saying, Anti-Semitism is a problem at other schools in the district, too. We understand that you are well aware of this ongoing serious problem, yet have not taken the steps you are legally required to take to remedy the anti-Semitism and ensure that it does not recur.

He has not met any of the list of demands we sent, said David Kadosh, executive director of ZOA West and one of the two signatories of the June 16 letter. He has not made public statements against anti-Semitism. Hes spoken in general about bigotry and says its enough.

In both a conversation with J. and in letters emailed to McPhetridge, Kadosh points out programs the school district runs to highlight inclusion for other minority students. As part of its Everyone Belongs Here campaign, for example, the district has held several events celebrating Muslim culture and history, including daily announcements in the high school during April, noting it was National Arab American Heritage Month.

By contrast, the ZOA letter points out, there were no school-wide announcements in May that it was Jewish American Heritage Month. When members of the Jewish student club put up posters, one was ripped down while the others disappeared in a few days. And last spring, for the first time, no Holocaust survivor was invited to speak to the students for Holocaust Remembrance Day. The school said it was too difficult to find a speaker, the ZOA letter charged, and rebuffed ZOA offers to provide one.

Were not asking for special treatment, Kadosh told J. Were just asking for the same attention and treatment for Jewish students.

In an hour-long interview in his office on Aug. 17, McPhetridge refuted the ZOAs and familys charges one by one. Yes, hes spoken out publicly against anti-Semitism at board meetings and a PTA meeting the family just isnt viewing the videos. Yes, the offending students were punished he just cant say how, due to privacy laws. Yes, the high school commemorates the Holocaust and a speaker will be provided next year; he thanked the ZOA for reaching out with suggestions.

And yes, the district takes anti-Semitism seriously, as it does with all bigotry although it can always do better. It cannot be just about anti-Semitism, he told J. It has to be the rights of all people.

Ive invited the ZOA and the Waldorf-Lindsey family to meet with us, he said, referring to himself and Principal Ithurburn. Theres so much we can do talking together that we cant do by email or phone. We are committed to making things better.

When a family [tells me to] work with the ZOA and copy [us] on the letters, its hard to cooperate, he added.

All of this is coming to a head at a time of upsurges in hate speech and anti-minority violence, including a rash of bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers in the spring which alarmed Natasha, her parents said the violence at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last week, and this weeks vandalism at Temple Israel in Alameda, where windows were smashed on Aug. 17.

Meanwhile, school starts Monday.

Continue reading here:
School year dawns with no resolution for Alameda girl targeted with anti-Semitism – Jweekly.com

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NFL, Players Union Meet to Discuss and Strategize Social Activism

The National Football League has met with the players union, the NFLPA, to discuss the national anthem protests that have plagued the last two seasons of football, reports say.

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Saints Coach Sean Payton: More Americans Killed by Guns Than From All U.S. Wars Combined

Sean Payton tweeted that more Americans have been killed by guns since 1968 than have been killed on battlefields throughout US history.

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Mark Cuban: I’m ‘Considering’ Running for President

Tuesday on CNN contributor Bakari Sellers’ podcast “ViewPoint,” NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he was “considering” running for president. When asked about seeking the high office, Cuban said, “Yes. Considering, yes. Ready to commit to it, no.” He added, “If I can come up with solutions that I think people can get behind and truly slove problems then it makes perfect sense for me to run. If it comes down to, ‘Do I think I can win because I can convince more people to vote for me?’ Then no, I won’t run.” (h/t WFB) Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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Heath: Reflections on an American tragedy – Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Imagine for a moment if after the Nazi holocaust, Germany passed segregation legislation, circumscribing where Jewish survivors could live, work, eat and play. Imagine that instead of being persecuted for their despicable crimes, the architects of the concentration camps found leading roles in government, academia, and other privileged positions in public life. Imagine if, in addition, ex-Nazis banded together to form a domestic terrorism group, the Aryan Klux Klan, with the express purpose of roaming the country and keeping the Jews in line. More specifically, this group reacts to the slightest indiscretion rolling ones eyes, talking back to an Aryan, engaging in interracial romance by punishing and sometimes torturing Jews, sometimes in front of a cheering crowd. Imagine if Aryan Germans conspired to keep the Jews economically downtrodden by underfunding their schools, segregating them into ghettos, and only hiring them for the most menial, low-wage positions. And then when the Jews suffered disproportionate rates of poverty and crime, Aryans claimed it was due to their inherent inferiority. Imagine that this same demographic worked to eliminate Jewish voting rights through discriminatory laws and threats of violence, so no pro-Jewish politicians could have a chance of getting elected. Imagine this status quo lasted for a century, until a Jewish civil rights movement emerged, that only after decades of mass protest eliminated all these unjust laws and conditions. Imagine that even this modicum of progress was tainted in that Aryan Germans only agreed to eliminate legal bigotry and did little to close the disparities in wealth, education, and access to health care Jews suffered from. Imagine that, as a result, Jews today had less than a tenth of the wealth Aryans did, a shorter life expectancy, twice as much poverty, and were far more likely to die in childbirth. Imagine that Aryans did little to help Jews in the ghettos and instead turned a blind eye as they became crime-ridden killing fields, destroyers of children and the aged alike. Imagine that, after all that trauma, injustice and terror, the first Jewish president of Germany managed to be elected. He is the ideal man, elegant, educated, well-spoken, with a beautiful family to boot, a gift to his nation. Morally, he is magnanimous enough to forgive his countrymen for their crimes against his community. He shockingly believes deep in his bones that national unity Ayrans and Jews standing together is not only necessary, but possible. Then imagine if, in response, Aryan citizens doubted his legitimacy, his worth as a German, and claimed he was really born in Israel. Image that this charge was given weight by some of the nations most prominent leaders, and that one of these men, a billionaire business tycoon, used his attack on the president to launch his political career. Imagine that after eight years of the first Jewish president, of his legitimacy, dignity, and character being constantly attacked, that same tycoon gets elected to office himself. Imagine this all occurs during a time when German police slaughter hundreds of Jewish citizens every year for such acts as selling cigarettes, playing with a toy gun, reaching for a wallet, or leaving a house party. Consequently, this circumstance makes Jews so afraid that their kids can be found at city council meetings with wet tears on their cheeks, begging for the violence to stop. Imagine that even the cries of children werent enough for Aryan society to change. I, of course, am not talking about Germanys history, but our own. As the terrorism in Charlottesville revealed this month, the same evil that animated slavery, Jim Crow, and the creation of the ghettos is alive and well in our country. It is with us for a very simple reason: as a people, we have not truly reckoned with our history and taken the steps needed to bring justice to the African American community. After World War II, Germany took a series of transformative measures to atone for its sins: it paid Jewish citizens reparations, banned public displays of Nazism and enacted legislation to ensure future generations of Germans would know the full extent of the Holocaust. By contrast, this country turned the other way as many African Americans languish without economic opportunity, whitewashed its history, and still has regular debates over whether the confederate flag is heritage or hate. If Germany treated its Jewish citizens the way we treat African Americans, we would think the Germans were a bunch of barbarians. And so the question remains: how should we view ourselves? Joshua Heath is a Stevenson Ranch resident and a political science student at UCLA. He has served two terms as a delegate to the California Democratic Party.

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Senators concerned about extremist summer camp – Heritage Florida Jewish News

A summer camp activity of the “Go Palestine” program, at the Israeli security fence along the border with the disputed territories. Two prominent U.S. senators are raising questions about an American-funded school in Ramallah that is running an extremist summer camp for Palestinian teens from around the world, many of them Americans. The controversial summer program, called “Go Palestine,” is run by the Ramallah Friends School, a 148-year-old Quaker institution in the Palestinian Authority’s de facto capital. Its stated mission is to provide Palestinian teens from abroad with “introductions to Palestinian culture, cuisine, life and work, and the Arabic language.” But in addition to traditional summer camp fare, Go Palestine participants are immersed in anti-Israel films and lectures by militants, some with terrorist connections. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) gave the Ramallah Friends School $800,000 in 2016 to make various improvements to its facilities. USAID also sent the school $700,000 in 2015, $900,000 in 2014 and similar amounts in prior years, through its “American Schools and Hospitals Abroad” program. The school is owned and operated by the Indiana-based Friends United Meeting, one of the major divisions of the Quaker movement. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the evidence gathered by JNS.org concerning Go Palestine is “disturbing” and that USAID “must immediately investigate it.” Schumer added, “If true, this school should be cut off because entities that receive USAID should be teaching about democracy and coexistence-not intolerance or extremism.” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is a longtime supporter of USAID’s assistance to overseas schools, but “the allegations described are quite concerning” and Cardin “has reached out to USAID for an explanation,” a spokesperson for the senator told JNS.org. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JNS.org, “I endorse the calls by Senators Schumer and Cardin for an investigation to make sure that no U.S. government funds are being used, directly or indirectly, to support a camp that promotes BDS or other anti-Israel extremism.” A USAID spokesperson told JNS.org the agency “has not provided any support to the ‘Go Palestine’ program.” USAID’s grants to the Ramallah Friends School, which hosts and operates Go Palestine, were “for construction and durable commodities,” including improvements to the buildings on campus. The USAID spokesperson did not address the fact that Go Palestine participants make use of those buildings on various occasions each summer. Rejecting Israel’s existence The three-week Go Palestine program, which began in the summer of 2011, accepts 40-50 campers each year. It costs $2,150 per camper, plus airfare. Although the camp has not released a complete breakdown of the participants by nationality, the “camper profiles” shown on its website from 2011-2013 indicate Americans were the single-largest contingent. Other campers hailed from the U.K., Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Several came from what the website calls “Haifa, Palestine.” Haifa is located within pre-1967 Israel, not in the disputed territories. The camp’s use of “Haifa, Palestine” is one of the many indications that rejection of Israel’s right to exist is an integral part of the camp’s ideology. The camp’s own descriptions of each year’s activities from 2013-2017 report that the teens are shown films such as “Occupation 101” and “Jerusalem: The East Side Story,” which depict Israel as a racist, savage oppressor. A panel on “Youth Activism and Engagement in Palestine” featured representatives of “the Love Under Apartheid Campaign [and] the BDS movement.” Officials of a group called “Right to Education” explained to the campers that all Israeli universities should be boycotted, since they are part of “the structure of systemic oppression.” This summer’s campers heard “an inspiring lecture from Nasser Ibrahim,” whom the camp describes as “a renowned journalist, author, and teacher.” Ibrahim has been associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group. He has served as editor of the PFLP weekly publication El Hadaf, and is deputy director of the Palestinian Union of Health Work Committees, which USAID has characterized as a PFLP affiliate. The 2016 and 2015 campers visited “the monument erected for the Martyrs of Birzeit.” The monument, on the campus of Birzeit University near Ramallah, memorializes students who were killed while engaging in violence against Israelis. The 2015 campers met in Bethlehem with “ex-prisoners,” and heard about their “experience in the Israeli occupation jails.” Palestinian “ex-prisoners” often are convicted terrorists. Go Palestine’s directors declined to respond to requests from JNS.org to identify the crimes for which those ex-prisoners were jailed, nor did they respond to inquiries concerning other aspects of their summer program. The online brochure for Go Palestine promises that it “will change your child’s life forever,” and video blogs on its website illustrate the impact the program has had on its participants. A camper named Nidalia Nazzal, from California, declares, “Now I appreciate all the people fighting for freedom.” Sama Sarraj, a teenager from Maryland, pledges that her “top priority” will be to “educate people and raise awareness” about “the situation of the Palestinian people.” Role of the Quakers The activities of the Go Palestine program could further complicate the already strained relations between the Quaker leadership and the American Jewish community. The Quakers’ public policy division, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), has endorsed the BDS movement and sponsors training programs for boycott activists. Middle East scholar Asaf Romirowsky, who has written extensively about Quaker attitudes toward Israel, told JNS.org it is “hypocritical” for Quaker leaders to claim to be pacifists and advocates of coexistence “while their Ramallah school is training teenagers from around the world to hate Israel and idolize terrorists.” JNS.org asked Shan Cretin, general secretary of AFSC, if Go Palestine’s activities are consistent with AFSC’s mission statement, which emphasizes “active nonviolence and the transforming power of love.” Cretin replied, “There is no connection between AFSC and the Ramallah Friends School,” which runs the camp. According to AFSC’s website, however, Cretin will be succeeded next month as general secretary by Joyce Ajlouny, who has been head of the Ramallah Friends School for the past 13 years. Jennifer Berg, the director of AFSC’s “Palestine-Israel Program,” was formerly a teacher at the school.

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After Barcelona, French Jewish Leader Calls For ‘Immediate Eradication’ Of Terrorism – Forward

Getty Images (JTA) Following the death of a pedestrian in what appeared to be a vehicular terrorist attack in Marseille, a leader of the local Jewish community called for the immediate eradication of terrorism. Bruno Benjamin, the president of the local branch of the CRIF umbrella of Jewish communities, wrote the message on Twitter on Monday, shortly after police arrested a man they suspect is connected to the slaying of one woman and the serious injury of another woman in a car-ramming attack that morning. Police cannot confirm that the incident was a terrorist attack, a police source told the Le Soir daily. #Marseille, terrorism knows no borders, terrorists have no limits and no humanity. Today, a total eradication is necessary, Benjamin wrote in the unusually harshly worded message. We cannot comprehend these levels of hatred and capacity for terrorism, he added. A prosecutor in Marseille said the incident appeared to be the work of a mentally ill person, the La Chane Info news channel reported. The incident comes on the heels of deadly terrorist attacks in and around Barcelona on Thursday and Friday, where 14 people were killed when a van plowed through a crowd.

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A California suburb reckons with its Nazi past and present-day controversy follows – Salon

La Crescenta, California, is a long way from Charlottesville, Virginia, but both communities have recently had to deal with controversies involving Nazis, white supremacy, and the removal of a public monument that symbolized bigotry. In Charlottesville, the controversy erupted in violence and became national news. In La Crescenta, a suburb of Los Angeles, the dispute was resolved through spirited but nonviolent meetings and discussions. Not surprisingly, the La Crescenta experience generated few headlines. Members of Nazi, Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups descended on Charlottesville reportedly to preserve a 26-foot tall statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederal general and traitor to his country, erected in a local park that was once named after him. The statue of Lee, on his horse with hat in hand, had stood in the park since 1924, a time of resurgent white supremacy, KKK activism, and lynching. In April, the Charlottesville City Council voted to sell and remove the statue and rechristen Lee Park as Emancipation Park. Local white supremacists went to court to oppose the removal and a circuit court judge issued an injunction prohibiting any sale or removal for six months. Stopping the removal of the Lee statue was the excuse that Nazis and other white supremacists used to organize a march and rally in Charlottesville brandishing torches, bats, and guns. One of them drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. The controversy was compounded when President Donald Trump refused to forcefully condemn the white supremacists, who then celebrated Trumps remarks as signifying support for their views and actions. Last Friday a week after the Nazis came to Charlottesville about 50 people gathered in Crescenta Valley Community Regional Park to celebrate a victory over hate and bigotry. A large contingent from the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department was on hand at the event, concerned that local white supremacist groups might try to disrupt the festivities, but no protesters showed up. The controversy started in February 2016 when a German-American group erected a six-foot sign at the entrance to the park, located in La Crescenta, an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County adjacent to Glendale. The sign greeted visitors with the words Willkommen zum, written in a German typeface, followed by Welcome to Hindenburg Park, and below that The Historic German Section of Crescenta Valley Park. At the bottom of the sign was the countys official seal and the words Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. That area had originally been named for Paul von Hindenburg, Germanys president from 1925 to 1934, and the man who appointed Adolf Hitler as German chancellor in 1933. The group that paid for the sign, the Tricentennial Foundation, claimed that it was intended to celebrate the areas German American heritage. But the sign failed to mention the parks ugly past as a site of Nazi rallies and a Nazi youth camp during the 1930s. Now, thanks to a new display erected in the park, the public will learn about this controversial history. Despite the official seal, the county did not pay for the sign, which cost $2,500. The Tricentennial Foundation, a German heritage organization based in the North Hills section of Los Angeles, worked with the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley to fund the sign. The foundations aim was to preserve the historical integrity of the site, said Hans Eberhard, the groups 85-year old chairman. Some proponents of the sign argued that they heard no objections about it before the county approved it. Thats because hardly anyone knew about it until it was put up, explained Jason Moss, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys. If it had been a public process, Im sure people would have opposed it. But soon after it was put up, we started voicing our concerns. Soon after it was installed, Carol Dorbacopoulos, who lives nearby and frequently walks in the park, noticed the new sign. I knew about the areas Nazi history and I was upset, she recalled. Calls and emails to County officials got no response until she contacted Mona Field, a retired Glendale College professor and a former elected member of the Los Angeles Community College District board. After Field began informing and mobilizing local residents, what appeared to be a harmless historical marker became the subject of controversy. Field and her allies knew that despite the sign the parks correct name was not Hindenburg Park but Crescenta Valley Community Regional Park, and that it was owned and operated by Los Angeles County. Civil rights, human rights and faith-based groups mobilized a campaign to persuade county officials to take down the sign and replace it with another that would tell an accurate history of that site. Local residents signed petitions, contacted local elected officials and conducted research to uncover the parks ugly but mostly forgotten history. I think theres a way we can honor German-American culture, but also not forget what took place at that park, Moss told local officials last year. In April 2016, the countys Human Relations Commission held a public hearing on the issue that attracted more than 200 people, the vast majority of them opposed to the new sign. Under pressure, County Parks and Recreation Department officials remove the sign the next month and appointed a committee to create a new display that accurately represented the parks history with texts and photos. The new display, explaining the sites history, was unveiled on Friday. Had local political officials and business groups done their research, they might have predicted that the sign would generate controversy, given the parks history as a gathering place for American Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. The German American League acquired the land in 1925, named it Hindenburg Park, and maintained it as a private gathering for local German Americans, who held dances, picnics and other events there. Had the park simply been a place where German Americans celebrated their cultural heritage, it would hardly be contentious. But the site also has a much more troubling history. Although the German American League may have been founded to celebrate German culture, it always had a political side. According to a 1937 article in Life magazine, the group was the Nazi organization in the U.S., previously known as the Friends of the New Germany. This countrys major pro-Nazi group the German-American Bund, which sought to promote a favorable view of Nazi Germany and urged Americans to boycott Jewish-owned business used the park for its events. At Hindenburg Park and elsewhere, Bund rallies not only featured Nazi flags but also American flags, claiming that its members were patriotic Americans. In fact, the Bund claimed that George Washington was the first Fascist. As early as 1936, the Bund operated 19 Nazi-inspired youth camps across the United States. One of them, Camp Sutter, was located at Hindenburg Park. In an interview last year, Arnie Bernstein, author of the Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund, explained that the purpose of these Bund youth camps was to indoctrinate children in Nazi ideology. Like most summer camps, the children participated in sports, hikes, arts and crafts and other activities. But they also were taught about Aryan supremacy and told to be loyal to the Bund, its leader Fritz Kuhn, and Adolph Hitler. They wore uniforms similar to those worn by the Hitler Youth group in Germany. They were forced to march around in the middle of the night carrying Bund and American flags, sing the Nazi anthem, give the Nazi salute, and shout Sieg Heil. As part of their camp activities, they were inculcated with Nazi propaganda. A Congressional investigation also uncovered sexual abuse between the adults and campers, Bernstein said In February 1939, Kuhn, who was often called the American Fuehrer, spoke at a pro-Nazi Bund rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City that attracted over 20,000 people. There he repeatedly referred to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as Frank D. Rosenfeld, called his New Deal the Jew Deal, and stated that the Jews are enemies of the United States. Later that month, the Bund held another rally at its West Coast headquarters at 634 West 15th Street in Los Angeles in building known as the Deutsch Haus (German House). The building was a site for pro-Nazi meetings and also housed a restaurant and beer hall as well as the Aryan Bookstore, where one could purchase the Bund newspaper, Hitlers manifesto Mein Kamp, and other Nazi literature. The Deutsch Haus also screened German anti-Semitic propaganda films with titles like Kosher Slaughter. A few months later, on April 30, 1939, the Bund held a rally in Hindenburg Park, promoted as a celebration of Hitlers birthday ten days later. Over 2,000 German-American Bund members came to hear Kuhn and West Coast Bund leader Herman Max Schwinn. According to the Los Angeles Times: Clad in a gray-and-black storm trooper uniform and flanked by a dozen uniformed guards, Kuhn spoke from a stage draped in red swastika banners. The crowd cheered Kuhn and booed as a low-flying plane, sponsored by the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, bombarded the park with thousands of anti-Hitler leaflets. When it was Schwimms turn to speak, he read a telegram he had sent to President Franklin D. Roosevelt: Do everything in your power to quarantine the United States against alien influences which are at work to drag the nation into war. By alien influences he meant Jews, whom the Bund correctly believed were trying to get the Roosevelt administration and Congress to oppose Hitlers efforts to take over Europe. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times that week, Kuhn spouted typical Nazi ideas. He falsely claimed that Jews occupied 62% of the high posts in the federal government and have plotted to get hold of almost everything, especially in New York and Hollywood. That event was only one of many Bund and pro-Nazi events that took place at the park. These gatherings featured speakers from other American fascist organizations including the Silver Shirts, White Shirts, and Khaki Shirts as well as the Bund. California State University-Northridge hosts a website and archive called In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda in Southern California, 1933-1945 that includes photos of Nazi rallies at Hindenburg Park. One shows members of the Bund erecting a huge swastika in the park. A two-minute clip from the documentary film Rancho La Canada includes footage of activities at Hindenburg Park, including the 1939 Nazi rally. In December 1939, Kuhn was sentenced to two and a half to five years in prison for embezzlement, but the Bund briefly continued without him. Two years later, after the United States entered World War 2 against the Nazis, the Bund disappeared. In 1943, while he was serving his prison sentence, the U.S. cancelled Kuhns citizenship and deported him to Germany in 1945. Historian Bernstein is quick to explain that most German Americans werent Nazis or Nazi sympathizers. Many, he said, were ashamed of Hitler and what was going on in Germany, and strongly denounced Kuhn and his followers. The Bund was a small group compared with the number of German Americans living in the United States, he noted. But they were loud and noisy. After the war, Hindenburg Park continued to be the site for German festivals. Southern Californias first Oktoberfest was held there in 1956. While the German American League owned the park, a five-foot bust of Hindenburg adorned the grounds. In 1957, Los Angeles County purchased the land from the German-American League for $91,000, and removed the bust. The Board of Supervisors also abandoned the name Hindenburg Park and incorporated that section of the park into the larger Crescenta Valley County Park. Over the next half-century, memories of the American Nazis presence at the park faded. By the start of this century, few people recalled that the Glendale area had not only been a stronghold of Nazi activism but also a breeding ground for other hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and the John Birch Society in the 1950s. In the 1960s, Glendale was West Coast headquarters of the American Nazi Party. In 1962, when the KKK experienced a revival in response to the burgeoning civil rights movement, the Klan paraded down Glendales main thoroughfare, Brand Boulevard, with a horse brigade, marching band and burning cross. As recently as 2012, a tiny hate group called the Crescenta Valley European American Society, promoting white identity and white pride, had a brief presence on the internet and sponsored a European American Heritage Festival at Hindenburg Park which generated controversy at the time but all manifestations of this group, including its website, soon disappeared. The La Crescenta and Glendale areas are now more diverse than in earlier years, but the scars of racism, anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and other forms of bigotry never completely heal, as reflected in the upsurge of protest after the appearance of the new Welcome to Hindenburg Park sign last year. Steve Pierce, a Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce board member, last year told the Glendale News Press: The sign is just recognizing the German culture that was in our community. I think thats important. Im very in support of that. The Department of Parks and Recreations six-member advisory committee spent almost a year debating what words and photos to include on the new display and how much to focus on the parks Nazi activities. The process was initially contentious. Eberhard, the Tricentennial Foundation chairman, opposed including any photos of swastikas on the new sign, claiming that people who hoisted flags bearing swastikas did so because it was the German flag at the time, not because they were Nazis. He wants to sanitize history, said Carole Kulzer-Brennan, a first vice president of the German-American League of Los Angeles and a member of the advisory group. Eberhard also insisted that the Nazi rallies were only a small part of the activities that occurred in the park during the 1930s. That was almost 80 years ago, he said in an interview following Fridays unveiling ceremony. I dont see why thats still relevant. I think it is unfortunate that the original sign was removed for no good reason, said Eberhard, who came to the United States from Germany in 1949 as a 17 year old. He seemed either nave or willfully ignorant about the significance of the sites Nazi past. Sign or no sign, it is still Hindenburg Park to many people in the community, he noted. But other members of the advisory committee were pleased with the outcome. It was a long drawn-out battle, but we reached a good consensus, said Kulzer-Brennan of the German-American League, which in September will sponsor its first event in the park since it sold the park in 1957 a German American Heritage Day picnic. Through the months of discussion, we got a vivid reminder of the fruitful collaboration that can come from listening to others with care and respect, said committee member Mark Strunin, a consultant for nonprofit groups and former president of a nearby synagogue. All four of my kids frequently go to the park and I was surprised when the sign suddenly appeared, said Sophal Ear, an elected member of the Crescenta Valley Town Council who was appointed to the advisory committee. I had no clue as to the history of the Nazi activities in the park. A Cambodian refugee and a professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College, Ear said it was important to create a display that doesnt gloss over the past but illuminates it. Its absolutely crucial that we learn the lessons of history. Mona Field, who helped lead the campaign to remove the offensive sign, called it a grassroots victory against those who would whitewash history. The new display, she said, tells the full story, good and bad, and makes clear that ideologies of hatred have no place in our community. The display, recounting the parks history, mentions that in its early days the German-American League used the park for festivals and other cultural events, but also explains that it was also used for more controversial activities including the promotion of Nazi beliefs through political rallies and the Sutter Youth Camp. There, the display notes, American youth were indoctrinated into theories of Aryan superiority, which is described as part of Adolf Hitlers racist ideology. These were not simply harmless theories but, the display explains, led to persecution and murder of European Jews and any other group or individual who opposed Hitlers Third Reich regime. The display includes photos of the entrance to the park, the park caretakers residence in the 1930s, an Easter Sunday service in the park in 1952, a musical comedy performance in the early 1950s, and a bust of Beethoven that was erected in the park. Theres also a 1944 photo of German American bomber pilots in front of a plane. This photo has nothing to do with the park or the Glendale area. One member of the advisory committee insisted that it be part of the display to show that German Americans were loyal patriots who served in the U.S. military during World War 2. But the marker also includes photos of pro-Nazi activities that took place in the park in the 1930s a German American Bund Party choral group, in front of a swastika, a gathering that includes both American and Nazi flags, and a group of children in uniforms looking at the German American Bund Party flag. It does not include a well-known photo of Bund leader Fritz Kuhn speaking at the pro-Nazi rally in Hindenburg Park in April 1939. Only three of the displays nine photos deal with the parks Nazi past. The display concludes with this statement: Although the events of the 20th century may seem distant, there continues to be a need to guard against all forms of hatred, racism, and totalitarian ideologies of all types. The American ideals of justice and equal opportunity still require our vigilant support. When the advisory committee began deliberating over the design, photos, and wording of the new display, nobody could have anticipated that its unveiling would occur as the nation was reeling from an upsurge of neo-Nazi and white supremacist activism, emboldened by a president who failed to display moral leadership. The events in Charlottesville are a sad reminder that Nazism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and racism still exist in our country, said the Jewish Federations Jason Moss. We cannot erase our history. But the new display in the park is a reminder of past events that took place in the community, and hopefully a way to ease the pain. We showed that there are ways to work together through dialogue, observed Moss, instead of with torches and violence. Peter Dreier is professor of politics and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest American of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books).

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August 19, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

School year dawns with no resolution for Alameda girl targeted with anti-Semitism – Jweekly.com

On Monday morning Aug. 21, 14-year-old Natasha Waldorf, who is Jewish, will start her sophomore year at Alameda High School. In her class will be one of two boys who taunted her last semester, sending her text messages that included the word kike and other anti-Semitic insults, and the image of product mascot Mr. Clean in a Nazi uniform titled Mr. Ethnic Cleansing. In the halls she will pass two other students who taunted her that same week last January, joking about the Holocaust and, when confronted by Natasha, telling her that Hitler should have finished the job. Alameda school authorities dont deny that these incidents, reported in a J. cover story in May, indeed occurred. This week, Alameda Unified School District Superintendent Sean McPhetridge told J., and the parents by email, that the situation has been handled appropriately. Natashas parents, however, say otherwise. And they want something done. They are not taking this seriously, Natashas father, Mel Waldorf, told J. These were threats. How is my daughter supposed to feel safe, with school starting Monday? How can [McPhetridge] say hes protecting a student when the kids who did this dont have to apologize and are sitting in her class for the rest of the year? Its egregious. The Zionist Organization of America has taken up the case on behalf of Natasha and her family, alerting J. to the ongoing situation this week. The ZOA has been engaged since June in an email exchange with McPhetridge and with the high schools principal, Robert Ithurburn, which now seems to have reached an impasse. Natashas parents, and the ZOA, want the school district to take five specific steps. At the top of the list: ensuring that all the students who taunted Natasha are made to apologize; instituting mandatory training programs for students, faculty and parents in how to recognize and combat anti-Semitism; and coming out forcefully and publicly in opposition to anti-Semitism. McPhetridge says the district has followed correct protocol all along, although he is legally prevented from detailing what punishment, if any, the offending students have received. He says four of the five demands have been fulfilled, in substance if not in letter, and the fifth mandating parental training is not feasible. He reiterates his and the districts support for full inclusion for all faiths, ethnicities, races and gender identities. Natashas parents and the ZOA say the district, specifically McPhetridge, arent taking their complaints seriously. McPhetridge, on the other hand, told J. this week that no incident in his decades of service has affected him like this one, and he takes it very seriously indeed. He insists that he wants to meet personally with Natasha and her parents to clear it up, as he met with the parents of three other children who suffered similar anti-Semitic taunting in Alameda schools. As of late this week, Mel Waldorf said he was still waiting for a phone call from McPhetridge. And anyway, the ZOA says a face-to-face meeting wont solve anything the organization wants demonstrable action. An impasse. And school starts Monday. At the center of this conflict is Natasha, who, as detailed in a May 25 J. cover story and editorial, received a series of anonymous texts last January that taunted her for being Jewish and made threats about gas and ethnic cleansing. She discovered that a boy in her class, whom she thought was a friend, had sent the texts, egged on by a foreign exchange student. Eventually the first boy was made to apologize to her; her parents say the exchange student, who has since returned to his native Germany, never apologized and his parents werent even notified. Later that same week, she and a friend overheard two other students joking about the Holocaust. One made the Hitler comment to her upon being confronted. Natashas parents then met with the schools assistant principal and dean, but as outlined in ZOA letters to McPhetridge, felt appropriate action was not taken. (That dean has since left the school district.) The ZOA letters also charge that these incidents are not isolated. Natasha reported to her parents and to school administrators other examples of students making anti-Semitic comments, of swastika graffiti found on desks and walls, and making jokes about the Holocaust, sometimes in front of teachers. Anti-Semitic incidents also were reported at other schools in the district, including Edison Elementary, as covered in J. On June 16, the ZOA first wrote to McPhetridge, saying, Anti-Semitism is a problem at other schools in the district, too. We understand that you are well aware of this ongoing serious problem, yet have not taken the steps you are legally required to take to remedy the anti-Semitism and ensure that it does not recur. He has not met any of the list of demands we sent, said David Kadosh, executive director of ZOA West and one of the two signatories of the June 16 letter. He has not made public statements against anti-Semitism. Hes spoken in general about bigotry and says its enough. In both a conversation with J. and in letters emailed to McPhetridge, Kadosh points out programs the school district runs to highlight inclusion for other minority students. As part of its Everyone Belongs Here campaign, for example, the district has held several events celebrating Muslim culture and history, including daily announcements in the high school during April, noting it was National Arab American Heritage Month. By contrast, the ZOA letter points out, there were no school-wide announcements in May that it was Jewish American Heritage Month. When members of the Jewish student club put up posters, one was ripped down while the others disappeared in a few days. And last spring, for the first time, no Holocaust survivor was invited to speak to the students for Holocaust Remembrance Day. The school said it was too difficult to find a speaker, the ZOA letter charged, and rebuffed ZOA offers to provide one. Were not asking for special treatment, Kadosh told J. Were just asking for the same attention and treatment for Jewish students. In an hour-long interview in his office on Aug. 17, McPhetridge refuted the ZOAs and familys charges one by one. Yes, hes spoken out publicly against anti-Semitism at board meetings and a PTA meeting the family just isnt viewing the videos. Yes, the offending students were punished he just cant say how, due to privacy laws. Yes, the high school commemorates the Holocaust and a speaker will be provided next year; he thanked the ZOA for reaching out with suggestions. And yes, the district takes anti-Semitism seriously, as it does with all bigotry although it can always do better. It cannot be just about anti-Semitism, he told J. It has to be the rights of all people. Ive invited the ZOA and the Waldorf-Lindsey family to meet with us, he said, referring to himself and Principal Ithurburn. Theres so much we can do talking together that we cant do by email or phone. We are committed to making things better. When a family [tells me to] work with the ZOA and copy [us] on the letters, its hard to cooperate, he added. All of this is coming to a head at a time of upsurges in hate speech and anti-minority violence, including a rash of bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers in the spring which alarmed Natasha, her parents said the violence at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last week, and this weeks vandalism at Temple Israel in Alameda, where windows were smashed on Aug. 17. Meanwhile, school starts Monday.

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Jewish American Heritage Month  Comments Closed


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