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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘CALIFORNIA’

California Earthquake Wreaks Havoc at Chabad House

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The 6.1 earthquake that jolted northern California in the middle of the night Sunday upended furniture and scattered broken glass at the Napa Valley Chabad Jewish Center.

“It was very violent—not a gentle rolling quake, but more of a jolting traumatic experience that shocked us out of sleep at 3:20 a.m. and lasted for about half a minute, Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum told the Chabad website.

The rabbi, his wife and five children were not injured.

Tenenbaum said he waited outside with his neighbors until daybreak before going back into his home and Chabad center, where power had been lost, to survey the damage. Upended furniture and broken glass prevented him from accessing some rooms, including his office. A disaster recovery fund was quickly established for those wanting to help out.

“I went to check up on people in the area and found that they were in a similar situation,” he added. “Their houses are standing, but everything inside has been ruined. Thank God, this happened in the middle of the night when we were in our beds and not in other parts of our homes, where heavy bookcases fell over.”

The Chabad website reported, “Tenenbaum says that waking up in the middle of the night with his children screaming amid violent banging and shaking helped him picture what life must be like on a regular basis for people living in Israel, where Hamas has been firing rockets from Gaza for much of the summer.”

“It is really surreal,” he said. “There are some stores that are functioning as usual, and others have been completely destroyed for now. Some streets are buckled, and others are just fine. Some people have broken water mains or leaking gas pipes, and others do not.”

Many residents in the area, famous for its wineries, are crying over wine spilled from barrels that were broken from the earthquake.

The largest quake to hit the San Francisco area in 25 years, it caused several injuries, including three who are in critical condition, set off fires and knocked out power.

Napa’s downtown historical areas sustained irreparable damage.

Congresswoman Hahn on #BlocktheBoat and ILWU Local 10

Monday, August 25th, 2014

SAN PEDRO, CA (Aug. 19, 2014), Congresswoman Hahn released the following statement after the ILWU Local 10’s initial decision not to unload a Zim ship docked at the Port of Oakland last week.

Anti-Israel protesters temporarily blocked the unloading of the ship through intimidation and picket lines.

The congresswoman recognized the damage to the local economy that these BDS protesters could cause, including the loss of local jobs, if Zim and other carriers were to choose safer and friendlier ports than Oakland.

“It is critical to the state’s local economy that this ship be unloaded. I urge the local police department to take steps to ensure ILWU Local 10 workers’ safety so that they may reconsider their decision and unload this Zim ship. This issue is about commerce in the United States not the political situation in the Middle East. Failing to unload this ship threatens the local economy and jobs this community relies on. I have been assured that the local police can guarantee the safe passage of workers at the terminal while allowing the peaceful protests to continue.

With cargo diversion a constant threat to our West coast ports, not unloading this cargo, simply sends the wrong message.

Last week in my San Pedro office, I convened a meeting with the local ILWU, the Israeli Counsel General, clergy, and representatives from Jewish Labor and the Port of Los Angeles to discuss this issue. We were assured by our ILWU leadership that they are neutral on the political situation in the Middle East and guaranteed that the ships in LA and Long Beach would be unloaded. As the co-chair of the Congressional PORTS Caucus, I hope that we can hold similar meetings in Northern California to bring key leaders to the table to find a resolution.

Finally, I stand with the Teamsters in calling on the ILWU to unload the Zim ship and allow important commerce to continue.”

Congresswoman Hahn is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional PORTS Caucus. She represents America’s Port – the Port of Los Angeles. With the Port of Long Beach, it is the largest port complex in the nation.

California School District Cancels Lesson on Holocaust Denial

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Students at a school in California who were given an assignment to compare propaganda with actual evidence on the Holocaust have instead been told to abandon the project.

The order came following a firestorm of criticism and at least one death threat aimed at Southern California’s Rialto Unified School District, which assigned the homework.

According to a report published in The Daily Bulletin newspaper, the project was assigned in April to 2,000 13-and-14 year old eighth grade students, as follows:

Shen tragic events occur in history, there is often debate about their actual existence. For example, some people claim the Holocaust is not an actual historical event, but instead is a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain.  Based upon your research on this issue, write an argumentative essay, utilizing cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain. Remember to address counterclaims (rebuttals) to your stated claim. You are also required to use parenthetical (internal) citations and to provide a Works Cited page.”

It had first been reviewed by a committee of eighth grade teachers, and sent to middle school sites in February for comment prior to distribution to the students. No objections were raised at the time, according to the spokesperson.

But the district found itself under siege on Monday, with the switchboard lines ringing off the hook.

At least one person called police repeatedly threatening death to a district spokeswoman Syeda Jafri and the interim school superintendent Mohammad Z. Islam. The incident is under investigation.

But also among the critics was Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, who slammed the assignment as inappropriate.

Rabbi Cooper told FoxNews.com on Monday, “Whatever the motivation, it ends up elevating hate and history to the same level… We should train our kids to have critical thinking, but the problem here is the teacher confused teaching critical thinking with common sense, because common sense dictates you don’t comingle propaganda with common truth.”

The rabbi advised the district to instead assign students to research the issue of Holocaust denial and meet with local survivors of the Nazis.

The school district responded in a statement saying the interim superintendent will speak with its educational services department to “assure that any reference to the Holocaust ‘not occurring’ will be stricken from any current or future argumentative research assignments. The Holocaust is and should be taught in classrooms with sensitivity and profound consideration to the victims who endured the atrocities committed,” the statement continues. “We believe in the words of George Santayana, ‘Those who cannot learn from history are bound to repeat it.”

The Los Angeles office of the Anti-Defamation League said it was satisfied with the district’s actions by Monday. “It is ADL’s general position that an exercise asking students to question whether the Holocaust happened has no academic value; it only gives legitimacy to the hateful and anti-Semitic promoters of Holocaust denial,” Associate Regional Director Matthew Friedman was quoted as saying, after having spoken with the interim superintendent on Friday.

“ADL does not have any evidence that the assignment was given as part of a larger, insidious, agenda,” a blog post quoting Friedman continues. “Rather, the district seems to have given the assignment with an intent, although misguided, to meet Common Core standards relating to critical learning skills.”

In a number of European countries today — including Germany — Holocaust denial is a criminal offense for which one can be sentenced to prison. The Nazis exterminated six million Jews out of a total of some 11 million victims murdered between 1933 and 1945, in the Holocaust that took place prior to and during World War II. Some two-thirds of European Jewry was wiped out in the slaughter, which ended with the defeat of Nazi Germany by the U.S., UK and their Allies.

Netanyahu Signs Partnership Agreement with Jerry Brown

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an economic and research partnership agreement with California Gov. Edmund “Jerry” Brown.

The agreement will enhance cooperation between Israel and California in a variety of areas, with a focus on water conservation, alternative energy, cybersecurity, health and biotechnology, education and agricultural technology, according to a press release from Brown’s office.

The agreement also allows Israeli companies access to a variety of Californian technology research facilities, including technology incubators, research parks, federal laboratories and universities.

“Through this agreement, California and Israel will build on their respective strengths in research and technology to confront critical problems we both face, such as water scarcity, cybersecurity and climate change,” said Governor Brown in the statement.
Netanyahu said “the opportunities of our partnerships are truly limitless. They’re limited only by our imagination.” While in California, Netanyahu also met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, as well as with Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the founders of text message service WhatsApp.

UCLA Student Council Rejects Divestment Resolution

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The UCLA student council rejected on Wednesday a resolution calling for divestment from five American companies that are accused of abusing Palestinian human rights.

The 7-5 vote by the Undergraduate Students Association Council followed nine hours of public comment and was held by secret ballot after one council member reported receiving anonymous threats by email during the all-night meeting.

Brought by Students for Justice in Palestine, the resolution called for divestment from Caterpillar, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Cemex and Cement Roadstone Holdings — companies that divestment backers said were used by the Israeli military to violate Palestinian human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

While the resolution included a clause declaring it independent from the wider boycott, divestment, sanctions movement, opponents said passing the measure would nonetheless be taken as a victory for pro-BDS groups.

“If you vote yes, that will be taken as an extension of the BDS movement, whether or not you want it to be,” Bruins for Israel President Avinoam Barel told the council members.

Dana Saifan, the president of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of California, Los Angeles, countered that the resolution should be judged on its own merits.

“As much as this might be construed to meaning other things, this is my human rights,” she said.

Saifan also told the council, “We are not asking for an endorsement of the BDS, we made that incredibly clear. Our community supports Jewish self-determination, we’re saying it — we’re not hiding anything.”

In addition to fears of supporting the BDS movement, several council members said they felt UCLA’s Jewish community had not been sufficiently consulted by Students for Justice in Palestine before the resolution was brought to the council, despite having been notified beforehand.

The UCLA resolution is the latest in a series of divestment proposals throughout the University of California system.

The Undergraduate Students Association does not control the university’s investment portfolio, so the resolution would have served as a recommendation to the Board of Regents, which has stated it will not entertain Israel-related divestment.

Longtime Congressman Henry Waxman to Retire

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, the dean of Jewish lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives, said Thursday he will retire, and Republicans immediately jumped on the announcement as a sign of weakness in the Democratic party.

He was first elected to Congress from a Los Angeles-area district in 1974, and his resignation will take effect next Jan 2, when his present term of office expires.

“I am grateful for my supporters and allies, who have worked side-by-side with me to fight for issues we care about: health, environmental protection, women’s and gay rights, and strengthening the ties between the United States and our most important ally, the State of Israel,” he said in a statement.

Waxman, 74,  was perhaps most prominent as the chairman of the Oversight Committee during the last two years of the George W. Bush administration, convening hearings about the conduct of the Iraq War.

The longest serving Jewish House member, he has taken a lead on pro-Israel issues, most recently in joining with Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to advance a bill that would increase cooperation with Israel in energy research.

Waxman stated Thursday, “House Republicans have no compelling vision for the future,” he said. “The public understands this, and I am confident that the Democrats can regain control of the House.

However, Politico reported this week that when Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was asked if her party would retake the House, she limited her optimism by saying only that the Democrats will gain some seats. She added, “I’m not going to confidently predict that Democrats will take the House back.”

Earlier this month, veteran  Democratic legislators Jim Moran and George Miller both said they are quitting.

One talkback comment on an American news site stated, “Waxman’s retirement was just announced in the House GOP conference room — and the conference enthusiastically applauded.”

House Republicans, who were at a retreat on Thursday when they heard the news of Waxman’s retirement, reportedly were happy.

JTA contributed to this report.

Jewish Councilwoman in Oakland Targeted with Swastikas

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Fliers hung in the Oakland, Calif., Montclair  neighborhood of Jewish city councilwoman Libby Schaaf show a swastika drawn on her forehead.

The fliers hung district represented by Schaaf read, “Stop Schaaf. Stop the DAC” (domain awareness center) — a reference to a city plan to build a combined surveillance center for police and firefighters.

Schaaf, who reportedly plans to run for mayor in November, told the Bay Area News Group that she was surprised to be targeted over the issue. She has been critical of building the center, though she has voted to proceed with the project along with a majority of council members.

“As a person of Jewish heritage I found this particularly hurtful. As an Oaklander I found it shameful,” said Schaaf.

Police are investigating the incident, but it is not known if it is being investigated as a hate crime.

Most of the posters have been torn down or the swastikas were covered with black marker.

Last year, similar posters with swastikas targeted a Latino councilwoman.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jewish-councilwoman-in-oakland-targeted-with-swastikas/2014/01/21/

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