Saturday, January 21, 2012
Let's Erect a Statue of Raoul Wallenberg at UC Irvine
Tonight, I sent an e-mail to the Editor in Chief of UC Irvine's New University campus newspaper. It contained a letter that I requested be posted in the newspaper. It is on behalf of the campaign to put a statue of Raoul Wallenberg on the UCI campus. Similar efforts are on-going at other universities. (I previously posted an article on this topic.) It is my understanding that the request is now before the Arts Acquisition Committee at UCI for consideration. The text of the letter is below.
I have been contacted by Mr. Peter Lancz, who is the director of the Raoul Wallenberg World Wide Campaign Against Racism.
Mr. Lancz is the son of the world famous sculptor of the same name, a Jewish refugee from Hungary. In the closing days of World War II, the elder Lancz was one of thousands of Hungarian Jews who were saved from deportation by the Nazis to Auschwitz due to the efforts of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. When the Red Army occupied Budapest, they arrested Wallenberg. He was never seen again after disappearing into the Soviet gulags.
In gratitude, the elder Lancz made a sculpture of Wallenberg in Montreal. Now it is the dream of his son to produce more statues of Wallenberg, many of which would appear on US university campuses to educate students as to the chronic and once again growing issue of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and how one Gentile put his life on the line to defend Jews.
More specifically, Mr Lancz has written to University of California president Mark Yudof to propose that a statue be erected on the UC-Irvine campus, which has been at the forefront of controversy and complaints of anti-Semitic hate speech over the past few years. Mr Lancz states that President Yudof forwarded the proposal to UCI Chancellor Michael Drake, who sent it on to the Arts Acquisition Committee for consideration. It is my understanding that the proposal is now being considered by the committee.
As an adjunct teacher at UCI, I fully support this idea. First of all, I would venture that the vast majority of American university students have never heard of Raoul Wallenberg. That is a shame which needs to be corrected. Today, as we witness a world-wide resurgence in anti-Semitism, which in North America, has its focal point on university campuses largely due to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it is imperative that our young people learn about true heroes like Wallenberg.
Hopefully, others in the UCI community, such as the Cross Cultural Center, will get behind this project and support it. It is my hope that the Arts Acquisition Committee will approve this project.