LAPD investigating two incidents as antisemitic hate crimes
The LAPD arrested two primary suspects in an alleged antisemitic hate crime against Jewish Americans that occurred last week. (Daily Bruin file photo)
By Hyeyoon (Alyssa) Choi and Justin Jung
May 26, 2021 7:01 p.m.
This post was updated May 31 at 12:39 p.m.
The LAPD is investigating two alleged antisemitic hate crimes in Los Angeles, which occurred May 18 and May 20.
A group of pro-Palestinian protesters in cars attacked two Jewish diners at Sushi Fumi, a restaurant in Beverly Grove, on May 18. Before the attack, the individuals yelled “Death to Jews,” and “You guys should be ashamed of yourselves,” according to a witness who spoke to the LA Times on condition of anonymity because of fears for his safety.
In a separate incident, two vehicles waving Palestinian flags chased a Jewish man in Fairfax District on May 20 as he was walking to his synagogue.
The incidents followed days of protests in LA, both in support of and against Israel during 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian militant group governing the Gaza Strip.
At least 193 reports of alleged antisemitic incidents have been reported nationwide in the week after the violence broke out, a nearly 50% increase from the week before the conflict escalated, according to data by the Anti-Defamation League.
On May 20, Israel and Hamas entered a cease-fire after 12 Israelis and at least 232 Palestinians were killed, according to The Washington Post.
Following Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s condemnation of antisemitic attacks on Twitter, a few individuals commented a video of the Jewish diners at Sushi Fumi allegedly taken shortly before the brawl started. The video appears to show the diners throwing glass bottles and yelling expletives at the pro-Palestinian convoy before the convoy members attacked the diners.
LAPD arrested one of the primary suspects in the beating May 21, according to a press release by Paul Koretz, the Los Angeles City Council District 5 council member. LAPD arrested another primary suspect in the physical assault Tuesday, according to an LAPD press release.
Koretz labeled both incidents antisemitic.
Dov Waxman, an Israel studies professor, said it is important that people know that Israel, while self-identifying as a Jewish state, is different from global Jewry, because Jews outside of Israel may or may not support Israel’s actions.
“Singling out Jews as a way of protesting is basically blaming an entirely innocent group of people who, even if they support Israel or identify with it, doesn’t mean that they are somehow legitimate targets,” Waxman said. “At the end of the day, … the Jews outside Israel don’t get to vote – they’re not Israeli citizens and they shouldn’t be blamed or targeted for what Israel is doing.”
A recent survey by Pew Research Center found that Jewish Americans have widely diverse views on Israel. Fewer than half of Jewish Americans under the age of 30 said they feel either somewhat or very attached to Israel.
This is the first time American Jews have been targeted as a result of escalation in Israeli-Palestinian violence, Waxman said. There is nothing new about a rise in antisemitic incidents in Western Europe in conjunction with escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, he added.
“For a long time in Europe, when there were wars between Israel and Hamas like in 2008 and 2014, that led to a spike in attacks and hate crimes against Jews in places like Paris and London,” he said. “So something that was happening in Europe for some time is now happening in the United States.”
Assaults against Jews actually undermine the Palestinian cause, Waxman added, because Palestinian activists have argued that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism.
Alison Simard, a spokesperson for Koretz, said his office is working with LAPD to resolve both incidents and prevent further harm. LAPD has increased police patrols and security near impacted areas, according to Koretz’s press release.