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Indybay Feature
You Can't Wash Away the Hate
by Vinny Lombardo
Friday Apr 20th, 2007 11:34 AM
Is anti-Jewish hate on the upswing in Santa Cruz? In recent weeks, I've noticed alot of anti-Jewish symbolism around Santa Cruz. In this photo-essay, I've got alot more questions, than answers.
"Jews Are Poison." "Jews Caus Wars." "Jews Spread Porn." These are the messages I've scene angrily scrawled on many benches along Pacific Ave. In my mind, I tried to simply laugh at the idiocy of whoever did this. I mean, this person couldn't even spell the word, 'cause,' so how could I take their 'cause' seriously? But I couldn't shake the feeling that it might be something more. Has there been other such hateful messages tagged around Santa Cruz? What about vandalism at local synagogues? These were the questions swirling through my mind as I raced home to find answers.

While the graffiti on the downtown benches is disconcerting, it's been "kind of quiet" on the UCSC campus, says Rick Zinman who answered the phone at Santa Cruz Hillel, a Jewish student resource center. Rick says he hasn't seen the graffiti on the benches downtown, and hasn't heard of any similar incidents on campus or around town in at least six months. "That doesn't mean that nothing has happened, but we haven't had any reports at Hillel."

On my bike ride home, I noticed a gas valve cover plate on the ground at Laurel and Cedar.

This further shocked me. And suddenly I had many more questions. Why is this here? Who manufactured this cover plate? What is the meaning of this? Is it a sick joke, a simple oversight, or a cruel reminder of the murderous legacy of Adolph Hitler? What agency regulates the gas valves? Are there others like it in Santa Cruz?

Picking up the phone, I placed a call to the City Public Works Department. I was cheerfully greeted by Corey Beardsley, an administrative assistant, who says of the gas valve plate, "that's not something the City maintains." Ms. Beardsley hadn't heard of this before, and suggested I talk to someone at Pacific Gas & Electric.

After four exhausting rounds of calls to automated PG&E lines, I was finally given a number for Jeff Smith, their media liason, who was hurrying off for an Easter week vacation. "This question has come up before," but Smith maintains, "there is no religious significance," to the gas valve plates. He didn't know who manufactured it, or how many PG&E maintains, but promised to have answers for me in a week. Two subsequent phone calls to Smith have not been returned.

No matter his response, though. The Magen David, or Star of David, IS a generally recognized symbol of Jewish Community and Judaism. The Star of David, surrounding the words Gas Valve, instantly brings to mind the hate that fueled Hitler's gruesome Nazi legacy.

April 20, 2007 is the 118th birthday of Adolph Hitler, who was Chancellor and Führerof Germany from 1933, until his death 12 years later. As leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party (or Nazi Party), Hitler oversaw the killings of at least 11 million people (some historians estimate as high as 14 million), including the genocide of some six million Jews, in what is now known as the Holocaust. By the end of the war, more than 45 million people had died in Europe alone.

Between 1939 and 1945, Hitler's elite guards, known as the SS, systematically killed somewhere between 11 and 14 million people, including about 6 million Jews, in concentration camps, ghettos and mass executions, or through less systematic methods elsewhere. Besides being gassed to death, many also were purposefully killed off by starvation and disease while working as slave laborers (often benefiting private German and US companies in the process). Along with Jews, non-Jewish Poles (over 3 million), Roman Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, & Protestants, alleged communists or anarchists, members of resistance groups, trade unionists, homosexuals, Roma (or Gypsies), the physically and mentally disabled, Soviet prisoners of war (almost 3 million), and psychiatric patients were all exterminated.

The gas valve plate at Laurel and Cedar is particularly offensive. According to escapees and survivors, as well as many WWII historians, some gas chamber buildings in Nazi extermination camps were disguised with a large Star of David decoration and a bathhouse inscription to possibly resemble a “mikva” ~a ritual Jewish bathhouse. This was done to lure compliant Jews to their untimely and gruesome deaths.

This use of deception was most notable at Treblinka II extermination camp, near Warsaw, Poland. At least 800,000 people were killed there (some have said 1.4 million), an amount second only to Auschwitz II (Birkenau) as the site with the most victims killed in the Holocaust. At Treblinka II everything was set up to deceive. Upon arrival, the train station looked like any other, complete with schedules, posters of far away lands, and a real-looking clock. The Nazis did not do this in order to make things more humane for the prisoners, but rather to have less work. After the camp had been camouflaged, the people did not suspect that their death was imminent. The gas chamber building in Treblinka II, was architecturally designed to resemble an old-fashioned synagogue.

While this week marks Hitler's 118th birthday, April 19, 2007 is the 64th anniversary of the start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, when thousands of Jewish Poles resisted the Nazis, and made a righteous choice to escape, or die fighting.

I still have unanswered questions; Why do people hate? How do you change a hate-filled heart? What's the best way to resist hate? But one thing is certain, hate won't go away merely with soap and water.
§Hate at Church St. Bench
by Vinny Lombardo Friday Apr 20th, 2007 11:34 AM
This bench at Church and Pacific ghas been repeatedly tagged with hateful, anti-Jewish messages.
§Hate at Walnut Ave. Bench
by Vinny Lombardo Friday Apr 20th, 2007 11:34 AM
This bench at Walnut and Pacific has also been repeatedly tagged with hateful, anti-Jewish messages. Sadly, many people have a hard time distinguishing the Jewish people, from the actions of the Israeli Government.
§Can't Wash Away the Hate
by Vinny Lombardo Friday Apr 20th, 2007 11:34 AM
Apparently, someone got fed up with the hateful message on this bench at Locust and Pacific. As you can see, there was an attempt to scrub this marking clean, but it didn\'t quite get the job done, proving once again, it will take alot more than soap and water to wash away hate in our town.
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
waste of timethe anti-vinnieMonday May 11th, 2009 6:11 AM May 2nd, 2009 7:35 PM
Gas Cap DesignvgSunday Feb 24th, 2008 12:07 PM
Something to think aboutConcerned citizenFriday May 11th, 2007 4:12 PM
Check checkkcehcWednesday May 9th, 2007 10:49 AM
Hateful crime shuts Scotts Valley Highsentinel reportTuesday May 1st, 2007 10:13 AM
The problem is not the JewsstargazerMonday Apr 30th, 2007 4:57 PM
Gas cap designjtWednesday Apr 25th, 2007 2:15 PM
Swastikas in the pavementhammer partyWednesday Apr 25th, 2007 1:17 PM
Comment on you cant wash away hatejonathanWednesday Apr 25th, 2007 10:54 AM
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