Vandals plastered posters on the garage door of Rabbi Michael Lerner’s Cragmont Avenue home Tuesday night, according to Berkeley police. The posters depicted pictures of a Nazi carrying away a Jew, according to a press release by Berkeley-based Tikkun Magazine.
“Lerner’s name is put on one of the Nazis and “Islamic extremists” is written on the other Nazi, and the innocent Jew is identified as the State of Israel,” said the release. “The perspective of the attackers is clear: “Rabbi Lerner is a Nazi assaulting Israel.”
This is the third incident of vandalism at Lerner’s home since March 2010.
“The police took down all the posters that had been stuck up there and we had someone come in and clean the rest,” Lerner said Thursday. “My wife is upset and scared and she didn’t want to come home and see them.”
Berkeley police are investigating the case as a possible hate crime, but there are no suspects so far, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss. However, Tikkun Magazine, which describes itself as a progressive magazine, has suggested the vandals are “extremist Zionist haters.”
Lerner and Tikkun Magazine held a celebration at UC Berkeley’s Pauley Ballroom March 14th to celebrate the publication’s 25th anniversary. As part of the event, the magazine presented South African Justice Richard Goldstone with the Tikkun Award for his 2009 report on the Israel incursion into Gaza in December 2008 and December 2009. The report concluded that both Israel and Hamas had violated the laws of war, but it went on to criticize Israel for using disproportionate force and targeting Palestinian civilians. It suggested Israel had committed war crimes.
Israel and many Jewish groups criticized the report as biased.
Lerner and Tikkun have written extensively about Israel and its use of force against Palestinians. In the press release, Tikkun criticized the vandalism as an attack against free speech.
“What ‘freedom of the press’ is there if an editor is subject to this kind of personal harassment for expressing his views in his editorials and in the gatherings sponsored by the magazine?” said the release. “Anyone concerned about civil liberties should be concerned about this pattern of attacks on the private home of a magazine editor.”