an ad in an old issue of J. has a circle with the word HATE crossed out and the slogan "Let's make this the sign of the times"
From the Jewish Bulletin's Oct. 2, 2022 issue

30 years ago this week: hate crimes and a looming election — sound familiar?

Thirty years may not seem that long to some. For others, 1992 was a lifetime ago. Either way, it’s easy to see parallels between then and now in our Oct. 2, 1992 issue — 30 years ago this week.

In 2022 we’re thinking about midterm elections, but in 1992, a presidential election just a month away. Challenger Bill Clinton was running for the Democrats against incumbent Republican George H.W. Bush (spoiler alert: he won).

“Monday marks the last day Californians can register to vote before the Nov. 3 election,” we wrote. While only 25 percent of Jews nationally were registered to vote, the Californian Jewish community could be proud of a much more satisfactory number.

“A whopping 97 percent of affiliated Jews from San Francisco, Marin and Napa counties and the Peninsula who voted during the last three years are probably still registered to vote,” wrote Garth Wolkoff, a staff writer.

Because of that, a major push to get Jews to register (including a “phone-a-thon”) seems to have fizzled, a victim of the community’s own success in getting Jewish people to be politically engaged.

“’We’re finding that most of the people we run into are registered to vote,’ said Mauri Schwartz, who chairs the Jewish mobilization effort for Clinton-Gore in San Francisco and Marin.

“‘I don’t think there are too many unregistered Jews in the Bay Area,’ agreed John Sidline, the Bush-Quayle campaign’s liaison to California Jews.”

Later in the paper, we printed a letter to the editor responding to earlier coverage of the Republican National Convention (“GOP woos Jews with party plank backing Israel”), in which Bush’s party said a vote for him was a vote for the security of Israel.

“Much was said in the Aug. 21 Bulletin of the enthusiasm of certain Jewish Republicans for Bush’s pro-lsrael promises,” a reader wrote to say. “Much less was said about the other, larger face of the Republicans’ platform: anti-intellectualism, intolerance, continued support for the unhealthy fantasy of ‘trickle-down economics,’ and the rabid agenda of Christian fundamentalism.”

We’re finding that most of the people we run into are registered to vote.

Harvey Edber of Sacramento continued in his letter to say that the question wasn’t really whether the Republican party was “good for the Jews,” but to remember that the United States had defense and security reasons for being close allies with Israel, a reality that would remain under a Democratic administration.

“It’s time for American Jews to remember what many American anti-Semites forget — namely, that what’s good for Jews is generally what’s good for the self-interests of the United States,” he wrote.

Hate crimes, and legislation about them, have been a major topic in this publication lately. In 1992, we wrote about a new bill waiting to be signed by Gov. Pete Wilson that would address what we referred to as “hate crimes” (not all incidents of hate are crimes) in schools, from physical harassment to threats.

“Recent statewide reports suggest schoolyard hate violence and intimidation is increasing rapidly; the problem is, no one knows exactly how rapidly,” we wrote. “Not a Jewish state senator or Jewish communal watchdog agencies or, for that matter, state education experts are able to provide any concrete data on the phenomena.”

The aim of the bill was primarily to start recording this data, so educators would know if there was a problem, said Fred Persily, the Jewish director of a San Francisco civil rights organization called Intergroup Clearinghouse.

“The anger and frustration that people have in a time of economic stress is usually directed at the most convenient target,” he said. “And for thousands, or at least hundreds of years, Jews have been one of those targets.”

Also on the subject of hate, on Page 44, we ran an advertisement that appeared not just in our paper but also on billboards around Los Angeles, sponsored by the American Joint Committee.

The word hate, crossed out, was accompanied by the words “Let’s make this the sign of the times.”

“The campaign was prompted by three recent outbreaks of hate incidents, including the Rodney King beating and subsequent riots,” we explained. Bumper stickers were being planned for the near future.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.