Enough with the Hollow Condemnations, Enforce the Law

News & Politics

Talk, as they say, is cheap. And no talk is cheaper than politicians’ hollow condemnations that follow every new instance of antisemitic thuggery on the streets of American cities.

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The latest example (as of this writing, there may well be others by the time you read this) came Sunday in Los Angeles, where in a scene repeated often since the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7, a keffiyeh-wearing mob descended on a synagogue in the city’s most heavily Jewish neighborhood and prevented people from entering.  

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the “protest began Sunday afternoon at the Adas Torah synagogue in the heavily Jewish Pico-Robertson neighborhood but eventually spilled into nearby areas over several hours.”

Several hours? Where were the police, one must ask.

“It took time for the Los Angeles Police Department to get enough personnel to the scene,” says the L.A. Times. “The LAPD eventually deployed 60 officers and got the protesters and counterprotesters to clear the area, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.”

Two questions come to mind. First, why did it take hours to deploy 60 officers to the scene, and second, why were those officers so ineffectual once they arrived? Videos available online (here, for example) show a chaotic scene in which Pico Boulevard, a major east-west thoroughfare, was shut down as the factions battled in the street.

As conveyed by John Podhoretz on Monday’s Commentary Magazine podcast, his friend Noah Pollack arrived at the synagogue to attend the event being held but was prevented from entering not by the Hamas sympathizers but rather by the LAPD, who appeared to Pollack to be giving the Jew-haters wide latitude, an assessment not inconsistent with numerous videos posted online. Pollack was able to enter the synagogue via a rear door on the adjacent alley, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how many people hoping to attend the event were unable to make their way to the alley and instead left in frustration or, worse, were subjected to the assaults and vitriol from the L.A. chapter of the Hamas Admiration Society.

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Even after the crowd was dispersed from Pico Boulevard, some in the keffiyeh crowd were unmolested by the police as they ranged into the nearby residential neighborhood to harass anyone they perceived to be Jewish. It was a  shameful display.

At the Los Angeles Times, which continues its descent into journalistic disgrace, the incident received no coverage in Monday’s print edition and scant attention online, with a brief article provided by a local news service. The story has since been updated with six Times staff writers sharing the byline, though despite having so many contributors, or perhaps because of it, the piece is typical of the paper’s coverage of such incidents, with the transgressions of pro-Palestinian demonstrators downplayed while those of Israel supporters are emphasized.

As an example, look no further than a photograph currently accompanying the story online, which is of a young woman, presumably a supporter of Israel, engaging with pro-Palestinians whose faces are not shown. It’s a compelling photograph, but does it accurately portray the tenor of the events that day, which included Jews being sprayed with bear spray and chased through the streets by club-wielding, keffiyeh-clad goons?

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, a master of empty rhetoric, spoke at the nearby Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance on Monday and condemned the antisemitic violence. “Yesterday was abhorrent,” she said, “and blocking access to a place of worship is absolutely unacceptable. This violence was designed to stoke fear. It was designed to divide. But hear me loud and clear: It will fail.”

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But will it? The Times reported there was but one arrest on Sunday, this of a pro-Israel demonstrator alleged to have possessed a “sharp pole” in violation of a local ordinance proscribing the carrying of potentially dangerous implements during protests. Police were also said to be investigating “two reports of battery,” though the story does not say who is alleged to have battered whom.

There is ample reason to be skeptical of the mayor’s assertion as long as those who applaud the horrors of October 7 are allowed to run amok and intimidate Jews without fear of consequences. Mayor Bass must make clear to the city’s police officers that it is their duty to protect the rights of everyone and if necessary to use lawful force in doing so. Until then, expect more of the same.

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