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Mayor Bass, LAPD, Jewish Community Leaders Call Anti-Israel Riot in Front of Adas Torah “Unacceptable”

Bass claimed “Los Angeles will not stand for antisemitism. Los Angeles will not stand or tolerate violence. Those who are responsible for either will be found and held accountable.”
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June 24, 2024
Photo courtesy of the Jewish Federation

Mayor Karen Bass, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Jewish community leaders and others denounced the anti-Israel riot that occurred in front of Adas Torah Synagogue in the Pico-Robertson area on June 23 as being “unacceptable” and antisemitic.

Speaking at a press conference held inside the Museum of Tolerance (MOT), Bass declared: “The violence that happened in the Pico-Robertson area yesterday was abhorrent,” adding that “blocking access to a place of worship is absolutely unacceptable” and called it an act of antisemitism. She proclaimed that all the people onstage with her show that there is a “united front that violence and hate will find no harbor here in Los Angeles.” Bass also recognized Democratic President Joe Biden and Governor Gavin Newsom for “standing with us as well.”

The Los Angeles mayor said that she has been in contact with law enforcement and faith leaders “to make sure this violence has never happens again” and to “take proactive action to prevent these instances from happening in the first place.” Bass also said she would be discussing with City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto matters regarding permits for protests and the issue of protesters wearing masks. “My number one job is keeping people safe,” she declared. “Los Angeles will not stand for antisemitism. Los Angeles will not stand or tolerate violence. Those who are responsible for either will be found and held accountable.”

LAPD Chief Dominic Choi’s message to the Jewish community: “I know you are fearful and I hear that. No one should be in fear of going to a house of worship and wonder if they are going to be attacked.” He announced that there has been one arrest regarding what occurred outside of the synagogue on June 23 but there are also “ongoing investigations … We are absolutely providing extra patrol to all houses of worship in the city of Los Angeles,” Choi said, adding that the goal is “to increase the sense of safety.”

Other elected leaders pledged to work toward increasing security for houses of worship. City Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky announced that she would be putting forward a motion at the June 26 city council to distribute additional funding to provide security toward places of worship and that Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-San Fernando Valley) has pledged additional funding toward that end. Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-West Adams) also said that she was working with members of Congress to expand the security program to ensure that “houses of worship are safe.” County Board of Supervisors Chair Lindsey Horvath said that she is committed to partnering with state leaders for nonprofit security grants and supports the Jewish Federation for Greater Los Angeles’s Community Security Initiative (CSI).

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda Rabbi Abraham Cooper said that the riot in front of the Adas Torah wasn’t just a hate crime, but “domestic terrorism.” He also pointed out that June 23, ISIS terrorists attacked a church in Russia — where they slit a priest’s throat — and burned a synagogue to the ground; Cooper stressed the need to protect houses of worship, which he said are “sacrosanct and declared “we will not be cowered by pro Hamas bullies.” He added that the Jewish community “should know that our mayor, Mayor Bass, is not another miniature UC chancellor, the women and men of the LAPD are not infallible but are still our closest friends and allies in this city.”

“We will not be cowered by pro Hamas bullies.” – Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Both Cooper and Rabbi Noah Farkas, who heads the Federation, contended the events in front of Adas Torah show that there’s no difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

“We are at a decision point where this country needs to decide whether or not it will support the Jewish community,” declared Farkas. He called for the establishment of safe zones around houses of worship in addition to enforcing anti-masking laws.

Anti-Defamation League Los Angeles Regional Director Jeffrey Abrams that what occurred in front of the synagogue on June 23 wasn’t just “a coordinated act of hate on a place of worship” but also pointed out that it took place in Pico-Robertson, the same neighborhood where two Jewish men were shot in broad daylight by a gunman who was looking to hunt down Jews. Following the shootings, the community worked together with the LAPD for a response; now the police have provided the public with a method to report instances of hate online.

“We are once again in a moment when something that has happened that has brought us together and once again we must do something,” Abram said.

He lauded the suggestions put forward by Bass, but said that “we need to do more.” He asked “everyone to take their responsibility to say, ‘enough is enough.’ Today it may be the Jewish community, but it will not be the end.” Abrams added that “we are lucky to have our leadership behind us.”

During the Q&A, Choi said that the police first became aware that the anti-Israel protest was being planned in front of the synagogue on June 20 and that police gathered intelligence on the matter. However, he acknowledged that the strategies and tactics they saw from the rioters on June 23 “were a little different” than what they had previously seen because they “came in waves.” “We are committed to improving our response,” Choi said.

Rabbi Yossi Eilfort, who heads Magen Am, similarly said that “law enforcement worked in advance” and that those behind the riot sent “wave after wave” of rioters, and some of them, he alleged, were paid.

Bass reiterated that LAPD will enhance their partnership to “proactively plan for protest in the future” and that she will work with Gabriel “to ensure our houses of worship have the resources they need to protect themselves.” Additionally, she reiterated that she will seek points of clarity from Feldstein Soto as to when permits are needed, if protesters should be masked, and “clear lines of demarcation of what is legal and what is not.”

After the press conference, Eilfort told The Journal that allegations that the LAPD were told to stand down on June 23 are not true, based on his meetings with elected officials and law enforcement.

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