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Montana Tucker, Emily Austin Highlight Los Angeles #EndJewHatred Rally

TikTok star headlines event in Pan Pacific Park
[additional-authors]
January 10, 2024
Photo by Aaron Bandler

Singer Montana Tucker and sports journalist Emily Austin were among those who spoke at a rally organized by the grassroots organization #EndJewHatred in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 7,  commemorating the three-month anniversary of the Oct. 7 massacre.

The rally, which attracted nearly 300 people, began at Pan Pacific Park near the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles’s Fairfax district.  Tucker, who has more than 9 million followers on TikTok, began the protest by calling herself a “proud, proud Jew” and that she recently spent six days in Israel. In Israel, she met with survivors of the Nova Music Festival massacre, others who survived the Oct. 7 massacre, three recently released hostages from Hamas captivity, families of hostages that are still being held captive in the Gaza Strip and Israeli President Isaac Herzog. Tucker recalled being “unable to hold back tears” as she met with the survivors and released hostages.

Montana Tucker (Photo by Aaron Bandler)

She vowed to continue to use her platform to support Israel and fight antisemitism and other forms of hate. “I have always been taught to love people for their kind hearts, good souls, not for their race, color, religion or sexual preference, and I will continue to do so,” Tucker said.

“My grandmother is a survivor of Auschwitz,” added Tucker, who produced a short docuseries “How To: Never Forget” (streaming on YouTube) chronicling her trip to Poland retracing her grandparents life under the Nazis). “She was lucky she survived, but she has lived a lifetime of trauma. Upon her arrival to Auschwitz at the young age of 13, she was forced to witness the brutal beating of her mother by two Nazi soldiers and then her mother was dragged to the gas chambers, where my grandmother stood helpless. What is happening now is a scary parallel to what happened back then.

“All of us here have I’m pretty sure have always heard, never forget. Never again. We have had that our entire lives,” Tucker continued. “Well, never again is now.” She pointed out that the Oct. 7 massacre was “the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. How did this happen again? Never again is now.”

Tucker also recalled watching videos of the Hamas atrocities on Oct. 7 when she visited the United Nations as well as heard firsthand testimony from a first responder and a member of ZAKA. “Where are all of the women’s organizations?” Tucker asked to applause, adding that “we have used our social media platforms, we have contacted all the organizations. Where are they?”

She urged people to continue to speak out. “I will not stop until all of the hostages are returned, and until real change is made” Tucker pledged as the crowd applauded.

Austin told the crowd that “there is no more #MeToo unless you’re a Jew, because for too long, Jew hatred has been excluded from the conversation of consequences. And we won’t stand for it anymore. If you’re not going to be a good person by nature, then guess what? We’ll make it clear you won’t have a choice anymore, because Jew hatred will no longer be tolerated.”

Emily Austin (Photo by Aaron Bandler)

Austin continued: “It’s DEI, unless you’re a Jew. It’s believe all women, unless you’re a Jewish woman. And it’s united against hatred, except for when it comes to Jewish hatred. That seems to be the days that we’re living in … and the irony of it all, the same people who are screaming and spreading Jew hatred and are chanting for a free Palestine, are the very women who would not be free in Palestine.”

She then had a pointed message for models Bella and Gigi Hadid: “How do you think Hamas would treat you in Gaza? Bella, you and your naked photoshoots, does that abide by Hamas’ laws? Or Gigi, your baby out of wedlock, you know where they wouldn’t care? Israel! Or in America. But you know who wouldn’t tolerate that? Hamas, and the government that you’re advocating for, that lives to kill Jews.

“These are the hypocrites that we are up against, that we are outnumbered by.”

Austin reminded the audience that “we can stop this hate” so long as the community remains united. “Yes, we might be outnumbered, but look at Jewish history time and time again. That has never stopped us,” she declared to applause.

Also speaking was Christina Pascucci, the former KTLA News reporter who is running in the Democratic primary for the late Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat, who explained that she didn’t know until her 20s that her grandmother “was in Munich, Germany during the Holocaust and had to hide her religion to survive. And I just think of how many Jews around the world who don’t know their own story. And my daughter will know her family’s story.” Pascucci is seven months pregnant.

Christina Pascucci (Photo by Aaron Bandler)

Pascucci said she visited Israel following Oct. 7 with 30 Chabad rabbis and visited the families of the hostages, who told them that it’s “gatherings like this that keeps their hope alive … when you keep the energy going, I know sometimes it feels hard and you get tired — especially when you see everything happening in the news — but keeping this up means so much to them and makes a huge difference.”

She urged attendees to hold their elected leaders accountable when they say nothing in response to Jew hatred. As an example, Pascucci pointed to how a home owned by the president of AIPAC “was terrorized” by pro-Palestinian protesters on Thanksgiving. “Elected leaders, including some of my opponents, said nothing,” she contended.

Families and friends of those who are still being held hostage by Hamas shared stirring, emotional speeches during the rally. One speaker, who did not identify herself, said her uncle, Oded Lifshitz, is one of the hostages. Fighting through tears, the speaker thanked the attendees for coming and their support “means the world.”

Roy Ben Menahem, said that his cousin, Rom Braslavski, helped several people — including those who were injured — at the music festival escape despite having many opportunities to save himself. Braslavski is currently being held hostage by Hamas. “I think Rom is a hero,” Ben Menahem said. “We’re waiting for him come back so we can celebrate and honor him. Let’s bring them home now everybody.”

Roy Ben Menahem and Yael Adler (Photo by Aaron Bandler)

Yael Adler, the grandmother of Ben Menahem and Braslavski who briefly spoke alongside Ben Menahem during the rally, described Braslavski to the Journal afterwards as being “a very nice person, very intelligent, always loved to help people” and that she’s “so proud of him and I want him back home.” Ben Menahem told the Journal that Braslavski was a security guard at the music festival and “he was probably the best security guard anybody could have ever asked for … his sacrifice saved multiple lives.”

At multiple points throughout the rally, chants of “Bring them home!” broke out throughout the crowd. Eventually, the protesters marched from Pan Pacific Park to IMG Models and rallied in front of the building; they protested IMG Models for representing Bella and Gigi Hadid.

“It is shameful to see the spreading of blood libels and misinformation manifest on social media to a degree we never have seen before,” said Adar Rubin, director of mobilization at #EndJewHatred, in front of IMG Models. “I’ve seen so much disinformation pushed — obviously debunked — but those who perpetuate it refuse to take those blood libels down.”

Adar Rubin, center (Photo by Aaron Bandler)

He did acknowledge that Gigi Hadid “apologized for invoking a horrific blood libel about organ harvesting, but the damage has already been done … People are looking all over right now, looking to amplify such a horrendous libel. There’s no amount of makeup, beauty anything in the world that’s going to cover up the damage that’s been done.”

Rubin demanded that “IMG Models takes the moral responsibility to end Jew-hatred within their own agency,” resulting in applause and chants of “Enough is enough!”

Jonathan Oswaks, who witnessed the altercation that led to the killing of Paul Kessler on Nov. 5, also spoke in front of IMG Models. “I’m here because on Nov. 5, I stood with Paul Kessler. And Paul Kessler was killed for holding this flag,” Oswaks said, referencing the Israeli flag. “I witnessed a hate crime where one of us was killed. Cold-blooded murdered. If you think that it can’t happen here, I’m living testament to tell you that it can.”

He contended that the reason why he is still here, and Kessler is not, is because Kessler insisted on holding the Israeli flag, while Oswaks held the American flag as they were counterprotesting a pro-Palestinian rally in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 5. “Before they went for him, they tried me,” Oswaks said. “But I wasn’t having it.”

Jonathan Oswaks (Photo by Aaron Bandler)

In November, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office arrested 50-year-old Moorpark resident and college professor Loay Alnaji on charges of involuntary manslaughter and battery in connection to the killing of Kessler. Alnaji had pleaded not guilty to the charges and his lawyer has argued that video evidence will prove that his client did not kill Kessler. Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said in a November press conference that they currently do not have enough evidence available that “meet the elements of a hate crime” but they are continuing to investigate the matter.

Oswaks warned that “there is not enough police presence to help all of us” and that “we need to stick together.”

“We saw an amazing resurgence of grassroots activism out here in sweet Beverly Hills,” Rubin told the Journal afterwards. “Home of some of the most elite of the elite and some of the most treasurable actors and most notable celebrity figures, but some of these celebrities right now have been espousing some of the most disgusting and despicable Jew hatred you’ve ever seen … it has to be taken on no matter the form and we’re starting to see that here today with the Hadid family.” He added that they’re calling on IMG Models “to cut ties with Jew hatred once and for all.”

Austin told the Journal afterwards, “If the Hadids said anything against Black people, you know they’d be fired. If they said anything against trans people, you know they’d be fired. So why is there an exception now when it comes to Jewish people? Why is that tolerated? That’s what they should go by.” She also lauded the fact that the Jewish community showed “our solidarity with the world and unify as Jews. Whether it’s on the East Coast or the West Coast or in Israel or all over the globe, we really show up when it’s time.”

Alexandra Smith, director of #EndJewHatred in Canada and one of the speakers at the rally, told the Journal that the rally was “an excellent start … I think we need to get loud about holding people accountable that seem to be an exception to the rule, and there is no exception to the rule. If you’re going to spew blood libel and you’re going to put bulls’ eyes on the Jewish community’s backs, then you’d better be ready for what’s going to come back at you. Either you need to cease, educate yourself, or it’s time for actual consequences because, like Brooke Goldstein says, without consequences people do not learn.”

Other speakers at the rally included journalist Stella Escobedo and entrepreneur Brock Pierce.

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