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Newsdesk April 30, 2004

WJC Pushes Resolution

The World Jewish Congress has launched a campaign to get the United Nations General Assembly to pass a resolution condemning antisemitism at its next meeting this fall. The WJC has obtained the support of Secretary of State Colin Powell and a promise from Senator Hillary Clinton, a New York Democrat, to push a congressional resolution urging the U.N. to adopt a stand-alone resolution on antisemitism.

The proposed U.N. resolution was initially introduced by Ireland but was rejected by the General Assembly last year.

Officials at the WJC said they were lobbying the European Parliament and national parliaments in Europe to pass similar resolutions to build up momentum before the U.N. gathering in September. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan reportedly indicated his support for the initiative, and Germany has been asked to sponsor the resolution.

The WJC is also starting a petition in a two-month effort to gather more than 1 million signatures supporting the resolution. Elan Steinberg, WJC’s executive vice-president, said his organization would brand countries that don’t vote for it as “antisemitic.”

Paper To Apologize

A U.S. college newspaper is apologizing for a cartoon that depicted a Jew being knocked into an oven in an arcade game. The editor of the Medium, a humor newspaper at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, said the newspaper had failed in trying to convey the racist attitudes that led to the Holocaust, the Home News Tribune of Central New Jersey reported. The April 21 front page of the Medium, a student-funded weekly, depicted a man throwing a ball at another man sitting on top of an oven. The caption reads, “Knock a Jew in the oven! Three throws for one dollar! Really! No, REALLY!”

French Antisemitism Down

Antisemitic attitudes have declined in most European countries, but so has support for Israel, according to a new survey.

The Anti-Defamation League survey, released in advance of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Conference on Anti-Semitism, found that the most dramatic declines in antisemitic attitudes in the past two years came in France and Spain.

In France, the drop was from 35% to 25%. In two of the 10 countries surveyed — the United Kingdom and the Netherlands — antisemitic attitudes increased.

In the United Kingdom, 24% of those surveyed held antisemitic attitudes, up from 19% in 2002.

Museums Jockey in Israel

A groundbreaking ceremony this Sunday for the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s new Center for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem will include the top political figures in Israel as well as California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. One official who won’t be coming, however, is the chairman of Yad Vashem’s directorate, Avner Shalev.

Much controversy was generated when plans for the Wiesenthal museum were announced in 1997, with Shalev questioning both the concept and style of the Wiesenthal Center’s planned museum, against the background of its high-tech Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

The Wiesenthal Center, associated from its inception with the Holocaust, was adamant from the start that it had no intention of duplicating Yad Vashem, Israel’s Shoah memorial.

“It would be ludicrous to try and build a second Yad Vashem in Jerusalem,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Center. “The misperception that our new museum will seek to duplicate Yad Vashem’s Shoah mandate is solely the result of statements made by Avner Shalev, this despite face-to-face meetings with Wiesenthal Center officials and a letter to him and the late Dr. Burg [former chairman of the directorate] confirming that the Shoah will not be the museum’s focus.”

The museum will focus on hate on the internet, antisemitism, tolerance, diversity, and international human rights issues, just as the Museum of Tolerance does in Los Angeles.

Yad Vashem was reportedly so unnerved by the original announcement that it asked the government for written guarantees that the new museum would not compete with it. It now apparently has made peace with the idea, and says it is not opposed to its building.

Cooper said there is no conflict between his museum and Yad Vashem’s, or between the two institutions as a whole, pointing out that “our trustees have contributed millions of dollars for Yad Vashem’s buildings and projects over the years, and I am sure that support will continue.”

Located in the heart of Jerusalem at a site adjacent to Independence Park, the $200 million project designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry is expected to be completed in 2007.

Russell Crowe Delivers

Russell Crowe offered to help rebuild a Montreal-area Jewish day school that was firebombed.

The actor, who was in Toronto making a film, offered the United Talmud Torah moral and financial support after the bombing earlier this month destroyed the school’s library. Crowe “was very upset at what had happened,” a school spokesperson told a Toronto newspaper.

His call “was a major morale boost for the whole school community.


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