Politicians Condemn Antisemitic Violence as Jews are Attacked by Anti-Israel Protestors at LA Shul

By Matis Glenn

The Los Angeles Jewish community is reeling from an attack described by witnesses as an antisemitic pogrom in front of a shul in the Pico Robertson neighborhood Sunday.

Over 150 protestors descended on Adas Torah, located on W. Pico Boulevard in the heart of the Jewish community, to protest a real estate fair which was aimed at educating people on how to buy property in Israel. The scene turned violent quickly, as masked attendees carrying Hamas-themed flags blocked the entrance to the shul, and assaulted Jewish people, spraying them with bear-spray, and wounding them to the point that many required hospitalization.

Literature provided by the protestors falsely claimed that land in Gaza was being “auctioned off,” while no part of Gaza is currently owned by Israelis or Jews, nor able to be purchased.

President Joe Biden and California elected officials condemned the incident as antisemitic.

“I’m appalled by the scenes outside of Adas Torah synagogue in Los Angeles. Intimidating Jewish congregants is dangerous, unconscionable, antisemitic, and un-American,” Biden wrote on social media Monday morning. “Americans have a right to peaceful protest. But blocking access to a house of worship – and engaging in violence – is never acceptable.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote on social media that the violence was “appalling.”

“There is no excuse for targeting a house of worship. Such antisemitic hatred has no place in California,” he wrote.

“Today’s violence in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood today was abhorrent, and blocking access to a place of worship is unacceptable,” L.A. Mayor Karen Bass wrote on social media.

“I’ve called on LAPD to provide additional patrols in the Pico-Robertson community as well as outside of houses of worship throughout the city. I’ll be meeting with Chief Choi tomorrow to further discuss the safety of Angelenos.

“I want to be clear that Los Angeles will not be a harbor for antisemitism and violence. Those responsible for either will be found and held accountable.“

Rabbi Irving Lebovics, chairman of Agudath Israel of California, told Hamodia that Hatzalah members treated the injured, which included anti-Israel protestors. Community safety organizations Magen Am and Shmira were on the scene to prevent the violence from growing, and if not for the Jewish security groups, the assailants would have gained access to the shul.

A masked protestor performs a Nazi salute in front of Adas Torah. (Photo credit: Sam Yebri)

“The LAPD were outmanned, having prepared for a smaller-scale demonstration,” he said. “Reports circulating on the internet that police were given orders to stand down during the protest before it became violent, were determined not to be true,” he added.

“A group of men tried to beat up a woman, and others drove through the community threatening people on the street,” Lebovics continued. “A husband and wife were arrested with a child in the backseat of their van after they threatened random Jewish people.”

Jewish groups condemned the attacks and praised the response of the elected officials.

“Yesterday the world saw terrifying images of an antisemitic mob violently attacking a large crowd of Jews in front of a synagogue in Los Angeles,” Agudath Israel of America said in a statement. “Agudath Israel of America appreciates that many elected officials including Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and even President Biden spoke out unequivocally to condemn the actions of the rioters and called out the antisemitism by name. However, identifying the incident correctly is only the first step to solving the problem. Action is imperative.”

Sam Yebri, a community member who witnessed the incident, described the scene on social media: “These violent masked domestic terrorists bludgeoned Jews, vandalized synagogues, schools and stores, keyed cars, assaulted anyone who appeared Jewish, blocked Jews from entering their synagogue, and chanted for the genocide of the Jewish people.  These violent masked domestic terrorists are now dispersing into Jewish neighborhoods hunting Jews and causing more destruction and vandalism.”

Yerbi described to Hamodia what he called a “pogrom,” seeing protestors perform the Nazi salute and many wearing green Hamas headbands.

“There was a major shooting in 2023 and prior random acts of antisemitism, but nothing like this pogrom has ever happened before in Pico Robertson. It is a stain in the history of Los Angeles,” he said.

“It’s very disheartening,” Benjy Spiro, a community member and askan told Hamodia. “For the last eight months, Jews across the world have witnessed despicable acts of antisemitism, and this situation is untenable. Protesting a real estate fair has nothing to do with a ceasefire in Gaza, and is merely a facade to slightly mask their virulent antisemitism. I sincerely hope these acts of aggression against the Jewish community are dealt with and this never happens again.”

(Photo credit: Sam Yebri)

On Monday, Bass, two city Councilmembers, Lebovics, Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove, who represents the district in which the incident occurred, and other officials spoke at a press conference following meetings held with members of Jewish organizations. All of the speakers acknowledged that the attacks were antisemitic.

Bass spoke strongly about Sunday’s chaos, saying it was a “pre-planned antisemitic attack,” and announced plans to work with Jewish security organizations, and use federal and state funding for security, in addition to preemptive measures to be discussed soon in the City Council.

In addition, Bass said she would reach out to the state attorney general about the legality of some approaches, expounded upon by Lebovics, which may include establishing a safe zone around houses of worship where protests aren’t allowed, and the ability for police to act swiftly as soon as a protest takes a slight turn towards illegal activity.

In addition, the mayor discussed the possibility of enforcing anti-masking laws which were suspended during Covid, and that there is ample video evidence of the crimes committed. She stated that the city would prosecute people who were acting illegally.

mglenn@hamodia.com

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