There was pushing and shoving, physical confrontations, and cruel epithets directed at people like Yael Dayan, then a member of the Israeli Knesset and daughter of iconic Israeli leader Moshe Dayan. Also verbally abused were author Irving Howe, feminist leader Betty Friedan, and actor-activist Richard Dreyfus. The Los Angeles Times called it "a near riot."
This was twenty-five years ago, when a group of nasty extremists came to protest an Americans for Peace Now rally at Los Angeles' Roxbury Park. Our fellow APN activists and supporters, many hundreds strong, outnumbered the hecklers, but these right-wing extremists were so aggressive that APN's speakers - Dayan, Friedan, Dreyfus and the others - had to receive a police escort to safety.
The hecklers were a small group, but the hostility toward APN's message was widespread. When APN publicized its event, a group of local Jews considered the violence and ugliness they displayed at the rally to be a proper response - they called it "drowning out the voice of Haman." Then, it was considered legitimate, perhaps even "mainstream," to liken those who call for a secure, two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians - the same solution for which we continue to call today - to the most famous anti-Semitic figure in ancient history.
Today, most Americans, including American Jews, as well as most Israelis and people worldwide, support a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. They see -- just as Americans for Peace Now envisioned then -- that an Israel at peace with its neighbors is the best path to Israel's security and longevity as a Jewish state and a democracy, fulfilling the Zionist dream that was so beautifully captured in Israel's Declaration of Independence.
Twenty-five years ago, the National Co-Chair of Americans for Peace Now was Jerry Bubis. Then, as now, Jerry ensured that the voice of reason would be heard above the rhetoric and catcalls. By steadily helping create the sea-change in attitudes, Jerry has been a significant inspiration to us and to so many others who support Israel through APN.
When Jerry stepped down from actively serving on APN's Board of Directors, we were honored to join with our fellow board members in establishing the "Professor Gerald B. Bubis Lecture" to be held annually. On Tuesday, December 17, Americans for Peace Now will hold the 3rd Annual "Professor Gerald Bubis Lecture" event at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA.
This coming December 17th will not be like Roxbury Park 25 years ago. On that day, we will join with Jerry and hundreds of others to hear his personal choice for speaker, Professor Mark Rosenblum, Middle East expert and founder of Americans for Peace Now.
APN's chair, Jim Klutznick, will be there to honor Jerry's work and to support this program. We hope that you, too, will join, be it in person or in support of the event and APN. We love Jerry and we love Ruby and it would be extremely meaningful to have you help us honor them with a tax-deductible donation to Americans for Peace Now.
Thank you very much,
Elaine Hoffman and Luis Lainer
LUIS LAINER has served as National Chair of Americans for Peace Now, and ELAINE HOFFMAN as National Treasurer. They have been Co-Chairs for APN in Southern California, as has JERRY BUBIS. All three have been recipients of APN's Yitzhak Rabin Peace Award.