September 16, 2019

Anti-Semitic Graffiti Found in Santa Monica

Photo courtesy of American Jewish Committee Los Angeles.

Anti-Semitic graffiti calling the Holocaust “a lie” and claiming that Jews have “been kicked out of 109 countries” was discovered on a pedestrian bridge in Santa Monica on July 20.

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Los Angeles Regional Office Assistant Director Siamak Kordestani told the Journal in a phone interview that an AJC member who didn’t wish to be identified discovered the graffiti and sent photos of it to the AJC.

The words, “Why have Jews been kicked out of 109 countries?” and “Nationalism or extinction” were discovered on the pedestrian bridge on the corner of Idaho Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway and the “Holocaust is a lie” was written on the bicycle path just north of the bridge.

“Both are Santa Monica public property,” Kordestani said.

Photo courtesy of American Jewish Committee Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy of American Jewish Committee Los Angeles.

AJC Los Angeles filed a police report with the Santa Monica Police Department on July 22 and notified the Santa Monica City Council. Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tempore Terry O’ Day told the Journal in an email that the city “acted swiftly to remove the graffiti and is attempting to determine if this is a pattern or a random act.”

California State Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) said in a July 20 Facebook comment, “Virulent hate speech is on the rise. We must call it out whenever and wherever we see it.”

Similar graffiti was also found along the pedestrian bridge on July 17. According to CBS Los Angeles, a swastika and the words “Holocaust is a lie” were scrawled along the bridge. The City of Santa Monica painted over epithet and police didn’t find any further vandalism nearby at the time.

Anti-Defamation League Los Angeles Regional Director Amanda Susskind told CBS Los Angeles on July 17 that such graffiti is “a function of events, like Charlottesville, that just unleashed a lot of people to come out from behind the shadows of the internet and out into [the] public. There’s less shame.”

Susskind told the Journal it wasn’t yet clear if the July 17 graffiti and the July 20 graffiti were related, but if they are, she said, “It is even more of a heightened issue for us.”

She added that the Santa Monica pedestrian bridge “is a high visibility spot, which compounds the insult and injury that you see in the messages.”

Kordestani said AJC Los Angeles is “very concerned” about the July 20 graffiti given that the Hebrew Discovery Center synagogue in Woodland Hills had white paint smeared on it on July 14 and that anti-Semitic graffiti was found on Mishkan Torah Valley Community Kollel in Tarzana on January 29.

“Seeing this in Santa Monica and a number of other incidents in L.A., the L.A. area, and Southern California in general – not to mention of course the [Chabad of] Poway shooting – we are very concerned about the uptick in anti-Semitic incidents not just globally but locally,” Kordestani said.

A California Department of Justice report released on July 2 found that there was a 21 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in California in 2018 compared with 2017.

Susskind told CBS Los Angeles that Holocaust education is necessary to counteract such anti-Semitic graffiti.

“There are still those of us alive — my grandmother survived Auschwitz, my father was rescued on the kindertransport to London — so we’re still around,” Susskind said. “We can still tell these stories in a personal way.”