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The City of LA Needs to Show Up for Its Jews

To express their Jew-hatred, these antisemitic demonstrators chose a place that represents the ultimate expression of Judaism.
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June 23, 2024
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I woke up at 5 am in Jerusalem, where I’ve been covering the ongoing effects of a war against terror, to hear about another kind of terror happening in my Los Angeles neighborhood.

Yes, I used the word terror.

Terror doesn’t mean people have to die. Terror means you intimidate and bully people. Terror means you use fear as your weapon of choice. Terror means you go after people because of who they are.

The antisemitic bullies who invaded a peaceful Jewish neighborhood on Sunday and targeted Jews did just that. They aimed to intimidate and incite. They chose the beating heart of Jewish LA, in front of the Orthodox Adas Torah synagogue, to do their bullying.

What does Adas Torah have to do with the war in Gaza? What does Adas Torah have to do with the Palestinians?

What does Adas Torah have to do with the war in Gaza? What does Adas Torah have to do with the Palestinians?

I know Adas Torah. Their whole reason for being is to observe and learn Torah. They are as peaceful a congregation as it gets. Think about that: To express their Jew-hatred, these antisemitic demonstrators chose a place that represents the ultimate expression of Judaism.

I’ve already received, like many of you I’m sure, videos of the protests. They have a lot in common with some other videos I’ve seen in recent weeks.

These are not the protests we used to see. Since Oct. 7, they’ve gone up several notches.

This is not outrage. This is rage.

It’s as if the rage has been building up for years and Oct. 7 made the volcano erupt. We’re seeing the burning lava now spilling in cities around the world.

We saw it erupt on June 10 outside an art exhibit in New York City honoring the 364 poor souls who were murdered, mutilated and raped at the Nova Festival on Oct. 7.

“Kill Another Zionist Now!” “Long Live October 7!” and “Jihad or Victory or Martyrdom!” were some of the messages visitors were greeted with as they left the exhibit.

Imagine coming out of a commemoration of one of the worst massacres of modern times, and all you see is praise for those who committed that very massacre. That is a form of terror, and it’s spreading around the world.

It’s absurd to call these Jew-haters “pro-Palestinian.” The Jews on Pico Boulevard; the comedian Jerry Seinfeld who gets interrupted and heckled; the visitors to the Nova exhibit; the Jewish college students who are intimidated on their own campuses, and countless other Jews, have nothing to do with either Israeli policies or with Palestinians.

They’re targeted because of who they are. They’re Jews.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass made some bold promises to the Jewish community during her election campaign. She promised, among other things, that the kind of hate and bullying we saw today on Pico would not be tolerated.

Imagine if a group of hateful Jews had aggressively targeted a mosque in LA to intimidate Muslims. It might be the lead story of every media outlet. It would trigger massive outrage and calls to bring the haters to justice.

The same must happen to the invaders of Pico who crossed the line of justice. We don’t yet know all the details of what happened. I’m proud of the Jews who refused to be intimidated and those who chanted the Shema prayer. At minimum, we know that a group of demonstrators who are antagonistic to Jews showed up in a deeply Jewish neighborhood to intimidate Jews. And we know that the LAPD failed to contain the aggression.

“I was there today for an event at the shul,” my friend Noah Pollak tweeted. “The LAPD let the Hamas supporters take over the sidewalk in front of the shul and block its entrance. In fact, LAPD had formed a cordon around the front of the shul to keep Jews out and Hamas supporters in. I tried to enter with my kids through the front door and was turned away not by Hamas supporters but by the LAPD. Anyone who wanted to attend had to use a secret back entrance.”

This is a disgrace. The city of LA must do better. With demonstrations against Jews around the world getting bolder and bolder, our leaders must take control to prevent even worse incidents in the future. The last thing anyone wants is for Jews to take matters in their own hands.

America is not the Middle East and Pico is not Jerusalem.

Or is it?

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