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L.A. officials, faith leaders denounce recent antisemitic attacks

A rabbi in religious garb speaks from a lectern
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, center, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, speaks in front of civic and faith leaders outside L.A. City Hall on Thursday in the wake of acts of violence against Jewish community members.
(Associated Press)

Los Angeles public officials and faith leaders met Thursday afternoon outside City Hall to condemn recent attacks against Jewish residents amid Israeli-Palestinian violence in the Middle East.

Officials urged community members to report hate crimes and incidents, and pledged to hold perpetrators accountable.

“Los Angeles stands against antisemitism,” said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. “We stand against the ideas that Jews should be singled out and attacked because of who they are. It mirrors what we have done too many times together, when we have stood up against Islamophobia or racism.”

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating as an antisemitic hate crime an attack on diners outside a Westside sushi restaurant Tuesday night where people shouted slogans against Israel.

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A video capturing the incident shows people in a caravan of cars flying Palestinian flags yelling obscenities and “You guys should be ashamed of yourselves” as they drive by the restaurant.

The video showed about eight people converging on the diners. One man swings a metal stanchion at the attackers, who then push him against a car and punch and kick him.

Officials said Wednesday that no arrests had been made. LAPD officials at the Thursday event said that they had no updates.

The LAPD is also investigating an incident in the Fairfax district Monday night, where a parking garage security camera captured an Orthodox Jewish man fleeing several cars flying Palestinian flags that appeared to be pursuing him.

After days of cross-border violence resulting in mostly Palestinian deaths, Israel and the Hamas militant organization said Thursday that they had agreed to a cease-fire. The truce, which Hamas said took effect at 2 a.m. Friday (4 p.m. Thursday in Los Angeles), came after rising international pressure for an end to the violence.

Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza have killed at least 230 Palestinians, including 65 children, according to the health ministry in Gaza, which is administered by Hamas. In Israel, 12 people have been killed by Hamas rockets, including a soldier, a teenager and a 5-year-old.

Officials said Thursday that pro-Palestinian rallies in L.A. over the last several days had been largely peaceful. On Tuesday, demonstrators met outside the Israeli Consulate in L.A., and over the weekend thousands of protesters gathered in Westwood to show support for Palestinians.

At the Thursday event, Hedab Tarifi, introduced as a representative of the Islamic Center of Southern California, condemned the local acts of violence against Jewish residents.

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“I know how it feels to be alone, calling for peace and justice for your people,” said Tarifi, who is Palestinian. “Violence against Jewish bystanders on the streets of Los Angeles is not acceptable. It doesn’t further the Palestinian cause or any causes.”

Earlier in the day, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles had sponsored an emergency virtual community meeting with local law enforcement officials, which more than 1,200 people signed up to attend. Jason Dice, the director of the federation’s Community Security Initiative, said people should report vandalism of Jewish institutions and not confront perpetrators.

The recent incidents have prompted community leaders such as Rabbi Jason Weiner, who leads Knesset Israel synagogue in Pico-Robertson, to urge Jewish residents not to be intimidated by the attacks.

Weiner recounted to The Times how he was walking to temple on Tuesday with his 14-year-old son during the Jewish holiday of Shavuot when a woman driving by yelled “you f—ing Jews.” He wrote a Facebook post encouraging people not to let acts of antisemitism cause them to hide their Jewish identity.

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“A lot of Jews were feeling really discouraged, very afraid,” he said. “I think it would be a shame if people felt the solution to what’s happening now is to hide their Judaism or abandon their Judaism.”

Times staff writers Hayley Smith and Richard Winton contributed to this story.


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