Whos in town

Don’t just stand and watch, bereaved Israeli, Palestinian beg

For most of his life, Rami Elhanan had absolutely no interest in politics. But six years ago, life drastically changed for the Israeli graphic designer. On Sept. 4, 1997, a suicide bomber in downtown Jerusalem killed Smadar, one of his four children. She was 14.

He described the unbearable pain he felt that day, especially when he had to identify her mangled remains at the morgue, and the days following.

“On the eighth day, after shiva, you have to get up and look in the mirror and decide what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. There are two choices,” he said. “One is obvious; you are angry, and you want to get even. You want revenge. But we are people, not animals. I lost my kid, but I didn’t lose my mind.”

Elhanan chose the second option, which brought him to the Bay Area on a speaking tour last weekend with a Palestinian Muslim, Ghazi Brigieth of Hebron, whose two brothers were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers. The two are part of the Israeli & Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace/Parent’s Circle — www.theparentscircle.com — which consists of some 400 family members on both sides who have lost someone in the ongoing conflict.

In its most high-profile act, last year the group brought several hundred coffins, draped with both Palestinian and Israeli flags, and displayed them outside the United Nations in New York, asking for more outside involvement in the peace process.

“If we, as bereaved families who paid the highest price, can sit side by side, share our pain and talk, our miserable leaders can do it, too,” Brigieth said.

Elhanan, who made it clear that he considers himself a Zionist, ended his formal remarks imploring the audience to do something.

“My father is an Auschwitz graduate. The free and civilized world did nothing when the Jews were sent to the ovens. And now, the free and civilized world is not only doing nothing, but it is supporting one side unconditionally,” Elhanan said. “I’m begging you not to stand aside and do nothing.”

Brigieth followed that up by adding, “I beg you don’t keep standing aside, or you will see us here again and who knows how big the numbers of victims will be.”

—alexandra j. wall

Staunch pro-Israel scholar Pipes speaks at Stanford

Author, columnist and Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes spoke at Stanford on Monday at the behest of the Republican Jewish Coalition of Northern California.

The staunchly pro-Israel Pipes was recently in the news when President Bush nominated him for a place on the United States Institute of Peace, a congressionally sponsored think tank dedicated to “the peaceful resolution of international conflicts.”

Pipes’ right-wing views made the nomination a highly controversial move. American Muslim organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations vociferously protested the move, while Pipes, in turn, labeled CAIR “the nation’s leading Islamaphobe.”

The Philadelphia-based Pipes was also castigated by many in the academic community for his founding of Campus Watch, a Web site reporting on allegedly anti-Israel or anti-Semitic behavior on college campuses.

A number of scholars named on the site — and quite a few who weren’t — bandied about terms like “McCarthyism.”

Pipes, however, said it was about time that someone took a critical look at Middle Eastern instructors on American campuses, whom he accuses of turning a willfully blind eye to Islamism as well as bullying and marginalizing scholars sympathetic to Israel.

— joe eskenazi

Son’s memoir, tour mark anniversary

of Rosenbergs’


Robert Meeropol will visit the Bay Area next month as part of a nationwide book tour that marks the 50th anniversary of his parents’ execution as spies.

Meeropol was just 6 years old in 1953 when his parents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were sent to the electric chair after being convicted of passing atomic secrets to the Russians.

A former Berkeley resident who founded a Massachusetts-based charitable fund for children, he has written a memoir about the controversial case: “An Execution in the Family: One Son’s Journey.”

Meeropol’s schedule of local appearances includes readings at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11 at De Anza College, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino; 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12 at Haymarket Books, 110 Capp Street, S.F.; 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13 at Wheeler Hall on the U.C. Berkeley campus; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14 at Socialist Action Bookstore, 298 Valencia St., S.F.; and a private reception in Oakland at 11 a.m., Saturday Nov. 15. Information: www.rfc.org or (413) 529-0063.