Anti-Israel Protest Outside Adas Torah Synagogue Turns Violent

Mayor Bass promises the LAPD will work with Jewish public safety organizations to review tactics and threats to the community.
June 27, 2024

It was a scary scene on Sunday morning on Pico-Robertson, just outside Adas Torah synagogue at 9040 W. Pico Blvd. A few dozen pro-Palestinian protesters, wearing keffiyehs and facemasks and holding Palestinian flags, tried to prevent people from entering the temple. It didn’t take long for the pro-Palestinian demonstration to turn violent as they shoved, kicked, threatened and yelled insults at Jewish men wearing yarmulkes who wanted to pray.

What brought these demonstrators to the area was a post on social media: “Our land is not for sale! This Sunday 6/23 a real estate event will be marketing homes in ‘Anglo neighborhoods’ in an effort to further occupy Palestine. Racist settler expansionists aren’t welcome in LA.”

Gidon Katz, who organized the seminar, told The Journal that over the past few months he became used to seeing anti-Zionist demonstrations outside his events, but they were usually at a safe distance. “They were literally at the entrance. I have no problem with someone who wants to demonstrate, but they should be designated an area to do so and not intimidate people from coming in and blocking the entrance.”

Katz’s company sells apartments in Israel and has been organizing conferences in the U.S. and Europe.

“I had a few events in the U.S. since March, including New York, New Jersey, and Montreal, Canada, and there are always demonstrators. However, police don’t let them approach the building where the conferences were held. Here, they were just outside the synagogue. I don’t know why the police couldn’t stop them.”

People in the neighborhood, a hub of the Jewish community, who heard about the clashes and hurried to the area witnessed scenes of a mob of pro-Palestinians attacking Jewish men and women. It didn’t take long for a fight between them to erupt.

“There was a big police presence there, wearing riot gear,” said Albert Shirazi, who lives in the area, “but they didn’t do anything at first. They just stood there.”

Noam Niv, an American-Israeli businessman said “you can’t arrive in a known Jewish area in Los Angeles and create provocations. The demonstrators held signs against Israel, such as ‘Israel is Nazi,’ and one was holding a spiked flag. There was the usual crowd of Palestinians, Arabs, far-left, and college students who have nothing to do with this conflict but take the opportunity to join any anti-Israel demonstration.”

Mayor Karen Bass said she was appalled by the scene outside the synagogue. She promised to have more security and proactive policing to prevent future attacks on Jewish residents.

 “The violence was designed to stoke fear,” she said. “It was designed to divide, but hear me loud and clear, it will fail.We will be working to immediately convene leaders of houses of worship and cultural centers to discuss how to protect sacred spaces. … LAPD will enhance their partnerships with Jewish public safety organizations to continually review evolving tactics and threats to the community and to ensure that we are not just responding but taking proactive actions to prevent these instances from happening in the first place.”

The following day, at the closing night of the Jewish Film Festival, which premiered the Matisyahu documentary, “Song of Ascent,” Rabbi Noah Farkas, Jewish Federation’s president and CEO, said that the demonstration was organized by a few groups.

“It is not a spontaneous use of the First Amendment right. It was a simple anti-Israel protest and use of the First Amendment right; it was a coordinated and collective attack on Jewish identity and community. It was proven over and over again, no matter what you say about the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, there really is no difference.”

Photo courtesy of LAJFF by Todd Felderstein

Farkas said many people were assaulted during the demonstrations, including his own staff members. “This is a serious problem. My team has been working with the City Council of L.A., City Council Beverly Hills and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.”

Earlier that day, there was a press conference at the Jewish Federation in response to the attack on the Jewish community. Participating in the event were Mayor Bass, Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky, ADL L.A., and the Museum of Tolerance.

“The city, the county and the mayor’s office have promised to work with us to set up safe zones around synagogues, batei midrash, schools, and cultural institutions that will make it illegal to protest in front of them,” Farkas said. “We are going to work very hard to apply the anti-masking laws to unmask protesters so we know who you are. You have the right to protest but not to be anonymous.”

He also announced the biggest security grant program in California history: $80 million for Jewish security.

Despite the efforts of the pro-Palestinian demonstrators to prevent people from attending the convention, Katz said over 300 people attended.

“They were mostly American-Jews but also Israelis. This is exactly why people are considering making Aliyah, the rise in antisemitism.”

He added that since Oct. 7, the interest in purchasing homes in Israel, had increased in the USA and Europe.

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