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Rabbi Lerner Asks for Media's Help to Publicize Vandalism

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday May 07, 2010 - 12:45:00 PM

In a message to supporters Thursday, Rabbi Michael Lerner--whose Berkeley Hills home was recently vandalized by right-wing Zionists— urged the media to draw attention to the incident and what it means for “Americans and for American Jews.” 


Although police are not calling the recent vandalism at Rabbi Michael Lerner's house a hate crime, supporters of Tikkun, the progressive Jewish journal which he edits, are extremely shocked and upset by the incident. 

A statement sent out by Tikkun Monday said: “The police say that this is not a 'hate crime' because the attackers were not attacking Rabbi Lerner for his religion, but for his politics. That is scant comfort for those of us who continue to believe that America and Israel are best served by the voices willing to publicly share critique, though incidents like this are of course meant to scare people into silence, Tikkun will not be silenced.” 

Lerner, who is the rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in San Francisco, has been criticized by Jewish groups for his controversial views on the Israel-Palestine conflict, the most recent of which came in the form of graffiti and vandalism at his house. 

According to the statement from Tikkun, the vandals used a “powerful form of glue” to stick posters to the door of Lerner's house in the 900 block of Cragmont and around his property attacking him personally as well as liberals and progressives as being supporters of terrorism and Islamo-fascism. 

The incident occurred on May 2 or the early hours of May 3. Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Jamie Perkins told the Planet that the vandalism was reported at 11:40 a.m. Monday.  

The vandals also posted a bumper sticker which read “fight terror—support Israel” next to a caricature of Justice Richard Goldstone, whose UN report on Israel's alleged human rights violations in Gaza last year was denounced as anti-Semitic by right wing groups. 

The caricature shows Goldstone talking about how he was prevented from attending his grandson's bar mitzvah, with Lerner responding by saying “any enemy of Israel is a friend of mine.” 

According to the Tikkun statement, the vandalism follows a week of hate mail being sent to Lerner and his staff which they said was apparently prompted by “Tikkun's announcement that in case the South African Zionists had succeeded in preventing Goldstone from attending his grandson's bar mitzvah, as they threatened several weeks ago, that Rabbi Lerner would gladly” hold it in the Bay Area instead.” 

Tikkun had also said it would award Goldstone the Tikkun Award in 2011 for his “willingness to stand up for human rights in Israel,” an announcement which it said had angered supporters of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.  

Tikkun's supporters said in the statement that although its staff has received many death threats and phone calls in the past, they were particularly worried about this week's incident because it had been an attack on Lerner's home. 

“As law enforcement people told us, this is a way of conveying the message to Lerner 'we know where you live, we know your house is vulnerable, so don't ignore our threats' … Needless to say, this latest attack on Lerner's home has caused great concern to his family.”