Police patrols increased after protesters clash outside Los Angeles synagogue

Police are stepping up patrols outside a synagogue that was an epicenter for protests that turned physical in West Los Angeles over the weekend.

Pro-Palestinian and Pro-Israeli demonstrators clashed Sunday outside Adas Torah synagogue, an Orthodox shul, in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood, which police said resulted in two reports of battery.

The synagogue was holding an event on real estate in Israel, and a company that in the past has promoted property listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank participated.

The violence in the heavily Jewish neighborhood was condemned by the Los Angeles mayor as well as President Joe Biden.

“I’m appalled by the scenes outside of Adas Torah synagogue in Los Angeles,” the president said on X. “Intimidating Jewish congregants is dangerous, unconscionable, antisemitic, and un-American.”

Officials said police are increasing patrols at the synagogue and other religious institutions in the area.

Protesters on Sunday were met with counter-demonstrators, some carrying Israeli flags, and several scuffles occurred throughout the neighborhood, NBC Los Angeles reported.

“One person just boom, straight to my nose,” Nafoli Sherman told NBC Los Angeles. “I fell to the floor. I got hit many times on my head. I got kicked over here.”

There were reports of people throwing punches and using protest signs as weapons. One person who was accused of carrying a spiked post was arrested, according to police, who added that person was cited at the West Los Angeles station and released.

No other details about the person who was arrested have been made public.

A supporter of Israel and a pro-Palestinian protester fight outside Adas Torah Orthodox Jewish synagogue, in Los Angeles, on Sunday. David Swanson / AFP – Getty Images

A Pro-Palestinian Instagram post calling for protests outside the synagogue during Sunday’s real estate event declared: “OUR LAND IS NOT FOR SALE!”

Student groups from USC, Trojans for Palestine and the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, said in a post on Instagram that demonstrators had gathered to rally against the sale of occupied land.

“Protesters developed there first and fore-most to push back against the unjust sale of occupied land to a depraved euro-amerikan settler market,” the group wrote.

More than 500,000 Israelis live in settlements built in the occupied West Bank, in addition to more than 200,000 settlers in east Jerusalem. Israel considers the settlements in east Jerusalem to be neighborhoods of its capital. The settlements have expanded rapidly in recent years, but some go back decades.

The international community overwhelmingly considers these settlements to be illegal, though Israel’s government has made plans to expand settlement housing.

Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations office in Los Angeles, said Monday that violence is never acceptable and welcomes a full investigation into the weekend violence.

In a statement, he stressed that the demonstration aimed to raise awareness about “blatant violations of both international law and human rights from agencies that seek to make a profit selling brutally stolen Palestinian land.”

The synagogue’s decision to host an event promoting “settlements, where only Jewish people are allowed to live, on illegally occupied Palestinian land is deplorable and antithetical to the morals that faith institutions should uphold. Elected officials and the mainstream media have politicized this incident as religious discrimination as opposed to a human rights issue. We call on political leaders to condemn the organizations involved in the potentially illegal sale of Palestinian land and the counter-protesters who commit violence against anti-genocide protesters with the same fervor used for rightfully condemning antisemitism.”  

The president and L.A. mayor were joined by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in decrying the violence.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the physical confrontations “appalling.”

“Such antisemitic hatred has no place in California,” he said on X.

Mayor Karen Bass said that “Los Angeles will not be a harbor for antisemitism and violence. Those responsible for either will be found and held accountable,” she said.

This spring, clashes and violence erupted in a chaotic scene at UCLA when a mob attacked a pro-Palestinian demonstration encampment. In videos, counterprotesters could be seen beating people, hitting people with poles, spraying chemical irritants and setting off fireworks. The clashes went on for hours before law enforcement officers arrived. The encampment was eventually taken down.

Sunday’s violence outside the West L.A. synagogue comes more than nine months into the Israel-Hamas war in the wake of the Oct. 7 assault by Hamas-led militants who killed 1,200 people and took 250 people hostage in southern Israel.

The war has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. It has sparked a humanitarian crisis and displaced most of the territory’s 2.3 million population.

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