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My Encounter With The ‘Peace Camp’


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“Eight years after the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, the unending violence has moved from the Holy Land to La La Land, in an absurd parody that only California could concoct. In the Hollywood version…the remake has a rabbi kicking a nudnick. It’s almost hilarious except that it involves real people and real pain . . . a group of his hawkish critics reportedly came over and a heated discussion ensued, during which one of the critics called the rabbi ‘worse than a capo,’ or Jewish collaborator with the Nazis. At that point, eyewitnesses say, the rabbi kicked her…”

– “Don’t Let Them,” editorial in the Forward, November 14, 2003.

 

        “The facts indicate that following a UCLA lecture by visiting Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz on Israel, Neuwirth had allegedly called Seidler-Feller a ‘kapo,’ and the rabbi, whose grandparents were victims of the Holocaust, had allegedly pushed and kicked her When Dershowitz spoke [at Hillel] in late October… Seidler-Feller approached [a group of pro-Palestinian picketers] and engaged them in dialogue about Israel. Before leaving he issued an invitation to a Hillel program in which a former Shin Bet director and Palestinian representative Sari Nusseibeh would engage in a debate. It was at this point that Rachel Neuwirth intervened. She objected to Seidler Feller’s ‘apologetic manner,’ particularly with regard to Nusseibeh, whom she called an enemy of Israel. The argument over Israel and how American Jews needed to act escalated and words led to the alleged physical exchange.”

        – “Kicking Up A Storm At UCLA,” Gene Lichtenstein, The Jewish Week, November 11, 2003.

 

For the record, there was no “physical exchange.” I offered no physical resistance at all to Rabbi Seidler-Feller’s assault.

 

During a UCLA Hillel event, a right-wing freelance journalist named Rachel Neuwirth repeatedly taunted Chaim for his left-wing politics, and finally denounced him as being ‘worse than a kapo.’ Enraged, Chaim grabbed her arm and kicked her… Rachel Neuwith shouting ‘kapo’ at Chaim Seidler-Feller is the primal Jewish scream against the return of the threat of annihilation … so when Neuwirth called Chaim ‘worse than a kapo’ – the vilest insult possible for someone from a survivor family – she became for him the symbol of all those right-wingers who routinely invoke ahavat Yisrael, love of the Jewish people, but who really love only those Jews who agree with them, and hate those Jews who don’t.”

        – “The Return of the Poison Discourse,” Yossi Klein Halevi, The Jerusalem Post Dec. 5, 2003.

 

Rachel Neuwirth and her supporters owe Seidler-Feller and the entire Jewish community an apology for their repeated, incendiary references to Seidler-Feller as a ‘kapo’ (a Jew who collaborated with Nazis in exterminating other Jews). Neuwirth’s own ‘worse than a kapo’ epithet reportedly instigated this unfortunate incident.”

         – Letter to the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, January 2, 2004.

 

There have been no “repeated, incendiary references to Seidler-Feller as a ‘kapo’” made by my supporters or me.

 

        “The failure of Rachel Neuwirth’s allies to condemn her hateful and outrageous verbal attack on Seidler-Feller exposes the nakedly political nature of their calls for his resignation.”

– Ornah R. Becker, the Jewish Journal, November 21, 2003.

 

There was much more, in the same vein, in other American Jewish media outlets.

After Rabbi Seidler-Feller apologized, I asked the Jewish Journal, the Jerusalem Post, the Forward, the Jewish Progressive Alliance, and nearly fifty UCLA professors to retract their inaccurate and damaging descriptions of this incident and apologize to me. All of these people, except for three of the professors, have refused or ignored my request.

Apparently it does not matter to these folks that Rabbi Seidler-Feller, in his official apology, admitted that his attack was “unprovoked.” The rabbi sent copies of his apology to the UCLA Daily Bruin, the Forward, and the Jewish Journal. The Forward ran a brief story about the apology but has not published the complete text of the letter. The Jewish Journal published the letter in its Internet edition but has refused to publish it in its print edition, which is read in Los Angeles by many of my friends, neighbors, and business clients.

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On Oct. 21, 2003, in a corridor on the campus of UCLA, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, the director of UCLA’s Hillel chapter, suddenly assaulted me when I merely asked him a reasonable question. He kicked and scratched me while trying to throw me down a flight of nearby stairs.

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