At Least Two Antisemitic Outrages by Pro-Palestinian Thugs in Los Angeles Reported in Last 48 Hours
Police in Los Angeles are investigating as possible hate crimes two separate antisemitic attacks on Jews by pro-Palestinian thugs over the last 48 hours.
Jewish diners sitting outside a Japanese restaurant in the Beverly Grove neighborhood on Tuesday night were attacked by several men, some of whom wore Palestinian keffiyeh scarves. At least one of the diners was taken to hospital after being pepper sprayed, though no serious injuries were reported.
Eyewitnesses to the attack said the men had been driving on La Cienega Boulevard in a convoy waving Palestinian flags. They allegedly challenged the diners at a table outside the Sushi Fumi restaurant as to whether they were Jews, leading to an angry verbal exchange. The thugs then climbed out of their vehicles, throwing bottles and yelling antisemitic pejoratives, and proceeded to attack the diners.
One Arab man who was dining with the Jewish group told the California Globe that he had called out to one of the assailants to stop throwing glass.
“I went up to the guy and spoke Arabic – I’m Armenian from Beirut – and told them to chill… ‘don’t throw glass at us,’” the man, who gave his name as “Maher,” said.
“Suddenly a few guys from the cars started running toward me, then 15-20 guys were running at us,” he continued. “They see I am Arabic, but then a big guy jumps at me and hits me. I hit back.”
Maher said he looked around and realized he was “alone fighting with 20 people.” They kicked his Jewish friend “who went to the floor,” Maher said. “Three guys just kept hitting me and don’t stop.”
The violence at the restaurant occurred shortly after large numbers of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli consulate in West Los Angeles for a protest organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM). The PYM describes itself as a “transnational, independent, grassroots movement of young Palestinians in Palestine and in exile worldwide as a result of the ongoing Zionist colonization and occupation of our homeland.” It says that its vision “is to mobilize Palestinian youth, strengthen our role and assume responsibility and accountability to our national struggle.”
Meanwhile, in an earlier incident on Monday night, CCTV security cameras captured video of a terrified Orthodox Jewish man fleeing on foot from two cars whose inhabitants waved Palestinian flags as they chased him to the corner of Rosewood and La Brea avenues. The man escaped unhurt.
Video of both incidents was widely shared on social media, with many users expressing disbelief and concern that pro-Palestinian protests are quickly degenerating into antisemitic violence and harassment.
“I live in West LA. I am Jewish. I am scared right now,” one Twitter user wrote.
“This is Los Angeles, folks,” LA Rabbi David Wolpe commented. “Because beating up Jews in California will advance Palestinian rights.”
Council Member Paul Koretz, who represents the Fifth District of the City of Los Angeles, said that he had visited the restaurant where the assault took place, where he spoke at length with one of the victims and pledged to bring the assailants to justice.
“We will never allow for anyone to strike fear into our hearts because we are Jews,” Koretz declared. “We are not going to allow the violence in the Middle East to spill out onto the streets of Los Angeles. Everyone is entitled to express their opinion but never through violence. Pro-Palestinian protestors cannot be allowed to viciously assault random people on the street because they happen to look or be Jewish.”
Jewish groups also condemned the antisemitic intimidation in Los Angeles.
“We are outraged over reports of an antisemitic assault on diners at an LA restaurant and thank the LAPD for investigating the incident as a possible hate crime,” the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) LA regional office said.
“Criticism of Israeli policy is not always antisemitic,” the ADL observed. “Violent attacks while yelling antisemitic slurs is a hate crime.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), which is based in Los Angeles, praised the response of the LAPD to the attacks but called out local officials for remaining silent about antisemitic violence.
“Where is the LA District Attorney? Where is the condemnation from the Mayor of LA?” the SWC asked pointedly on Twitter.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti did condemn the attack in a tweet later on Wednesday afternoon.
“We as a city condemn last night’s organized, antisemitic attack. Jewish Angelenos, like all residents, should always feel safe in our city,” said Garcetti. “The LAPD is investigating this assault as a hate crime, and we will respond with the full force of the law,” he continued.
In a separate statement, the Los Angeles-based Israeli American Council (IAC) condemned “this hate crime in the strongest possible terms,” urging the authorities “to find and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”
The group pointed out that according to recent data gathered by the FBI, “Jews are the focus of 60 percent of religious bias-related hate crimes, targeted at a significantly higher rate than any other religious group.”