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Jewish Population in California Resort City Reported Terrorized

December 24, 1959
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The KTLA television station here has aired an hour-long documentary program asserting that a nearby resort city, Elsinore, was on the verge of violence against its Jewish citizens. Officials of the station said that to get the report, Pat Michaels and other members of the station’s news staff were sworn in as members of Elsinore’s police force “for their own safety.”

A KTLA special news release, announcing the “City of Hate” program, declared that the news staff had “uncovered a situation which parallels she nightmare of Nazi Germany with frightening fidelity.” It stressed that “the terrorism is part of a calculated campaign designed to drive out the large Jewish population which has gathered in the resort city.” The documentary was shown twice.

The program showed that damage had been done to synagogues and centers in Elsinore, which is 72 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The news staff interviewed officials and residents of Elsinore to determine their reactions to widening signs of anti-Semitism. These included threatening letters, wall inscriptions and stonings. The program charged that a concealed organization, calling itself the International Freedom Fighters, was responsible.

Originally, Elsinore’s tourist trade was based on a large lake. When the lake dried up, there was a large influx of elderly Jews who were attracted by the area’s mineral waters. The mineral waters were cut off on contention that it had a high fluoride content, but Elsinore residents expressed the belief in statements on the KTLA program that this was a device to drive Jewish businessman out of the area.

Mr. Michaels contended on the program that a measure approved at the last session of the California Legislature to refill Lake Elsinore was the direct cause of the current campaign of intimidation. He said that the goal was to scare Jewish residents out and regain property sold to them during the area’s depressed period.

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