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Glass Containers Filled With Red Paint Thrown at Attendees of Bay Area Jewish Event

There were no serious injuries, but one attendee described it as “really pre-Holocaust-y.”
[additional-authors]
May 29, 2024
Photos by Veronica Siegel

Anti-Israel protesters reportedly threw glass containers containing red paint at those attending a Jewish event in Oakland on May 8.

The event, hosted by Malka Productions (an organization that puts on events for Bay Area Jews in their 20s and 30s) at the Continental Club, featured Jewish Israeli Latina influencer Debbie Lechtman (“@Rootsmetals” on social media) discussing combating antisemitism and maintaining Jewish identity in the digital era. Danielle Chetrit, who co-founded Malka Productions, told The Journal in a phone interview that while most of the protesters “screamed and held signs … one or two protesters who were a little crazy and came with these glass mason jars with red paint and threw them at our attendees.”

Dyanna Loeb, who also co-founded Malka, added that initially there were only 1-2 protesters and then it “accumulated” to around 10-15. Loeb explained that the glass jars hit the ground and “shattered”; a few people were directly hit by the projectiles. there were “no serious injuries but people did get scratches and bruises and scrapes,” added Loeb. “The agitators were yelling epithets like, ‘if you have family in Israel I hope they all die,’ ‘I hope horrible things happen to your family,’ ‘genocidal pigs,’ ‘baby killers,’ ‘I hope you f—ing choke.’ These were the things that they were saying.” San Francisco resident Vince Celli described the protesters as wearing masks and keffiyehs and argued that it was ironic that they were accusing the attendees of white supremacy when at the time Celli was in the crowd speaking to a Black Yemenite Jew.

“All of a sudden I saw some commotion, and something exploded on the ground, and I saw this red substance and glass fly everywhere,” he added. “I saw where it was coming from, and these two guys had run up and hurled these objects at force … right at the crowd of us.” He estimated that there were about 30-50 attendees standing in front of the venue at the time.

Sunnyvale resident Yuliya Eydelnant told The Journal that the protesters, who she believed were college-aged, “were quite aggressive” and claimed the protesters shouted “Dirty Jews,” and “Die Zionists.” She also noticed that the protesters seemed to be “hyping each other up” and was about to say something to security when they started throwing glass into the crowd. “It looked like glass bottles filled with some kind of red paint,” Eydelnant said. “It smelled very chemical-ly … I dodged the first two that they threw, they were throwing them towards our feet.” Celli described it as a “red sticky substance” and thought it might have been paint, but smelled like nail polish.

Eydelnant said that she saw people got hit with paint on their arms and legs; she later realized that she got some paint on her shoes. It wasn’t until the following morning that she discovered she suffered a cut on her leg as a result of the glass breaking; she doesn’t believe it’s anything serious.

Oakland resident Veronica Siegel told the Journal that she was about to go inside the venue when she heard “glass shatter by my foot … then I just hear a bunch of screaming and I look down and my foot is all red.” Siegel then ran into a coat check room to make sure her foot didn’t have any glass in it.

Celli, who got some red paint on his pants, said that the security guard at the event “lunged at them as if they were going to chase them down” and at that point the protesters throwing the glass objects ran away. “We asked the police, why aren’t you pursuing them, that was clearly assault,” he alleged. “And they said, well we’re here to protect you guys and if we leave to go pursue this, it could escalate, and there’s protesters here, so we’re just kind of here to monitor the situation.”

A spokesperson for the Oakland Police Department told The Jewish News of Northern California, “While officers were present at the scene, monitoring a group awaiting an event, several individuals arrived and initiated a demonstration. During the demonstration, two individuals threw objects filled with paint towards the group, resulting in an unknown victim and a building being struck. The two individuals then fled the area on foot. This investigation is ongoing.”

Eydelnant, whose family escaped Soviet-era Ukraine, said that the experience was “retraumatizing”; she claimed that she has been a victim of numerous antisemitic incidents in the past — including assaults — but has “never experienced something of this level.” “It was the early evening, it was still light out, in broad daylight throwing glass at others simply because of their ethnicity and their nationality and their identity,” she said. “It’s very heartbreaking.”

Photo by Vince Celli

Eydelnant added that “the event was just about being Jewish, so if they don’t agree about us being Jewish and existing, it’s [a] very disturbing thing. It very much breaks my heart that people so long have fallen into this belief that hurting others for who they are is okay.” Celli said he was surprised that the protesters were there since it was not a pro-Israel rally. “It just felt like they heard it was a Jewish event and they came to harass us.”

“A lot of us were pretty shaken,” Celli said. “We’re used to there being protesters and counterprotesters at our events our stuff, and I’ve seen a lot of instances on the news of things getting violent, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it person, and the hate that was clearly there was pretty upsetting, pretty intimidating.”

Malka Productions does not publicly provide the address to their events for security reasons; they only give it to registered attendees after each attendee has been vetted. Loeb and Chetrit aren’t sure how the address for the Lechtman event was leaked to anti-Israel protesters that posted it to social media, as all 243 attendees were all either prior attendees to Malka events or were friends of Loeb and Chetrit’s friends. Loeb and Chetrit posited that a registered attendee may have sent it to a friend they thought they could trust but couldn’t know for sure.

The event still went on as planned despite the protesters, and the end security escorted people to their cars without incident. Eydelnant described Lechtman’s speaking event as being “lovely” and “inspirational.” Celli said he was still able to have a good time during the event, but contended that a lot of people felt “apprehensive” when leaving and that they were advised to leave in groups to get to their cars. “It just felt really pre-Holocaust-y.”

“It really just goes to show resilient the community is, and how we support Debbie and her work,” Chetrit said, adding that there were “non-Jewish allies” who came and asked questions. “We won’t let these protesters intimidate us and we will stand strong.”

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