Over more than three decades, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has cultivated a reputation for tracking down Nazi war criminals, speaking out against antisemitism and teaching tolerance. Now, its plans to move forward with two massive building projects, in Los Angeles and Jerusalem, are sparking a barrage of criticism that the center is acting insensitively — just the type of accusation that could tarnish its carefully constructed image.
Responding to mounting signs of a resurgence of aggressive antisemitism in Europe and elsewhere, the British government recently hosted an unusual gathering to discuss ways of fighting the threat. Known as the London Conference on Combating Antisemitism, the mid-February gathering brought together 125 members of parliaments from 40 nations for two days of emotional calls to action, along with scholarly analyses of what speakers called “the new antisemitism.”
When Ladino-rock musician Sarah Aroeste visited Santa Clara, Cuba, on a recent humanitarian trip with B’nai B’rith International, she was surprised to find that while the 25-member strong Jewish community had a huge Holocaust memorial to commemorate those who died, it had only one CD of Jewish music to celebrate the living. She was also surprised that young Jews came up to her after the shows she performed with Cuban-American musician Roberto Rodriguez and asked, “How do we learn this music?”
The Israeli flag fluttered briefly over southern Lebanon in mid-February, probably with Hezbollah’s permission.
One month into the Obama administration, Jewish communal leaders seeking high-level access appear to have come crashing through an open door. Within four days in mid-February, Jewish leaders were invited to two high-level conference calls — one with senior foreign policy officials who discussed the upcoming United Nations-sponsored Durban conference on racism, and the other with Middle East special envoy George Mitchell.