Los Angeles (Jan. 27)
– More than 3000 people gathered at the Simon Wiesenthal Cen-
ter for Holocaust Studies at Yeshiva University of Los Angeles for a rally last Sunday against anti-Semitism and bigotry. Wiesenthal flew from his home in Vienna to be the featured speaker at the rally. The program also included civic, religious and community leaders who participated in a cleansing ceremony of the desecration that occured at the Center earlier this month.
Messages in German and English that were spray painted on the Center’s walls, –“Simon is a murderer” “Death to all Jews,” and “Be-ware Jews, the SS is coming”– as well as swastikas and a skull and cross-bones death symbol, were painted over in the cleansing ceremony that focused on “Remembering”– in the words of Wiesenthal –“that freedom is not a gift from the heavens, we must fight for it day by day.”
Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who chaired the rally, said, “even though we are painting over the desecration, we cannot cleanse our minds and our hearts of anti-Semitic attacks.” Other public officials participating in the rally announced legislation on the local, state and federal level that will be introduced, making it a felony to desecrate institutions such as the Wiesenthal Center.
“We applaud these actions and hope that they will bolster existing legal statutes as well as encourage investigations of additional legislation to deal with the growing wave of anti-Semitism and bigotry in the United States,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. When Los Angeles Board of Education member Rita Walters said she would make sure school children in the district would be taught about the Holocaust, the crowd responded enthusiastically.
SAYS THERE AREN’T ENOUGH ANTI-NAZIS
During the program, Wiesenthal focused his remarks on the Torrance, California based “Institute for Historical Review.” In an effort to give itself an aura of scholarship, the institute publishes a quarterly journal that contains articles by academicians and lecturers and lists an Editorial Review Board of several American professors who use their academic titles to lend credence to the insidious campaign to deny the Holocaust and the suffering of its victims.
Condemning the “Institute for Hysterical Review,” Wiesenthal said that such groups are “whitewashing a criminal regime” and “we must protect young people against this poison.” He noted that “the problem in dealing with anti-Semitism in the United States is not that there are too many Nazis, but that there are not enough anti-Nazis.”
Wiesenthal also said he would like to see the United States prohibit the printing and distribution of Nazi literature, acts which are illegal in Europe. “I know the First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech, “he said,” but surely not the right to provocation.”