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LA anti-cult group criticises Cruise award

    The executive director of an educational group on cults has criticised Simon Wiesenthal Centre for handing its highest honour, the Humanitarian Award, to actor Tom Cruise at a ceremony in Beverly Hills last week.

    Mr Cruise received the award for his financial support of the centre and its Museum of Tolerance, for which the dinner alone raised $1.4 million.

    But Ruth Guggenheim of Jews for Judaism said the Wiesenthal Centre should "stay away" from figures such as Tom Cruise, who is affiliated with the Scientology organisation.

    "The Wiesenthal Centre should not take money from groups like the Scientologists," said Ms Guggenheim.

    Scientology has long rejected charges that it has engaged in Holocaust revisionism or has been insensitive to its memory, despite allegations that the organisation has blamed the field of psychiatry - a longtime Scientology target and obsession - for being a cause of the Holocaust.

    At the ceremony, Mr Cruise told the audience: "Our challenge, ladies and gentlemen, is to make sure that we do all in our power to see to it that there will be no more Auschwitz-Birkenaus, no more Rwandas, no more Darfurs on our planet."

    Brett Ratner, who serves on the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's board, said last month: "Tom Cruise cannot be responsible for an entire religion. You can't say he's the reason the religion is doing what it's doing."

    Also at the ceremony, Astra Temko, the wife of former JC editor Ned Temko, accepted a medal on behalf of her father, Hillel Kook.

    Kook, who took the pseudonym of Peter Bergson, ran a high-profile campaign to rescue Jews from the Holocaust in the 1940s.

    She said: "It's a testimony to my father's passion and compassion, his magnetism and his belief in the moral necessity for action, that he was able to draw on the support of so many figures from the world of theatre and film."

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