WEHO 2023 ✡️ The plague of antisemitism

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The warning signs were there all along. We just ignored them. 

Antisemitism had become routine on the streets of West Hollywood long before Hamas’ notorious Oct. 7 attack on Israel. 

Two years ago, City Hall released the first of several public notices entitled “Hate Has No Place Here” which addressed anti-Jewish incidents in the city. It began with reports about anti-Semitic flyers and memes on social media. Less than six months later, the city sent out a second, more concerning bulletin:

“We have received reports this weekend about multiple vehicles seen in the area displaying messages of antisemitism, and about incidents of hate speech in the community. These reports are particularly distressing as we mark Harvey Milk Day. We celebrate Milk, who was Jewish and who was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, and we will never forget the path he helped to build in rejecting discrimination and in embracing full civil rights. In honoring his life and in remembering how his life was cut short by hate-fueled violence, we must commit to standing together in rejecting hate.”

Antisemitic incidents in Los Angeles and California rose significantly over the past two years. In 2022, the Greater L.A. area experienced a 30% increase in antisemitic incidents compared to the previous year. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported 237 incidents in the county in 2023, up from 182 in the previous year. These incidents included 143 instances of harassment, 86 cases of vandalism, and eight assaults. Some specific examples included a homeless man being assaulted for wearing a kippah, antisemitic remarks directed at Jewish neighbors, and a synagogue window being broken​​. Statewide in California, there were 518 incidents reported in 2022, a significant jump from 367 incidents in 2021. This 41.8% increase included a rise in white supremacist flier distribution. One notable incident involved the Goyim Defense League hanging banners over a Los Angeles bridge with antisemitic messages​​. These incidents weren’t limited to criminal acts but also included non-criminal acts like distribution of hateful fliers and bigoted remarks​​.

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And yet for many non-Jews, myself included, the disturbing trend of swastikas etched on buildings and outlandish propaganda blaming Jews for this world problem and that world problem didn’t really register on our radars as an emergency.

We listened passively as Whoopi Goldberg made a mockery of the Holocaust and Kanye West spewed shockingly hateful anti-Jewish thoughts. We heard their half-hearted apologies and then forgot all about them (as did they). 

When residents like Phillipe Mora told City Council that tearing down the historic Temple Beth El was a bad message for West Hollywood to be sending to the world, we wondered why a fuss was being made over such a sad and unremarkable old building.

“This is dangerous, what you’re doing,” Mora told the council in July. “Given the current situation in this country, which I’m sure you all know about, it’s crazy. WeHo, a beacon of progressive thought, will burn down. As goes WeHo, so goes the nation. To approve and promote the destruction of a historic and active synagogue, built by Warner Brothers and Max Factor, in this dangerously polarized society? The destruction will only receive applause from racists and anti-Semites.”

When the city decided not to sponsor a screening of J’Accuse!, an acclaimed Holocaust documentary, we didn’t exactly see what Dillon Hosier of the Israeli-American Coalition for Action was so mad about.

And when local Jewish leaders worried about a West Hollywood councilmember’s past support for anti-Zionist causes, we didn’t really understand why it was relevant — after all, Israel and Gaza are half a world away, and what happens there has no real bearing on what happens here, right?

How naive we were.

Even the shocking and violent incidents didn’t wake us up to what was clearly on the horizon. Those were just outliers, we thought. 

October 7 proved we were dead wrong.

The rampant ignorance and indifference toward Jewish discrimination seen throughout America was exposed in many cases as a flimsy mask for deep-seated racial and religious contempt. The hostility toward Israelis and the appalling outpouring of sympathy for their murderers is ample proof that our supposedly civilized, progressive nation is just as prone to the racist, fascist poisons of the mind as far less enlightened people were in the 1930s and ’40s. 

To their credit, West Hollywood’s progressive elected leaders have consistently taken a hard public stance against antisemitism.  That includes Mayor Sepi Shyne, Mayor-elect John Erickson and Vice Mayor-elect Chelsea Byers, who have all faced accusations of antisemitism. When compared with the progressive leaders in academia who could not even bring themselves to denounce literal and explicit calls for Jewish genocide coming from their student bodies, they’ve done their due diligence. 

But City Council can do very little to stem this awful revival of an ancient hatred.

It’s really up to us to fix this within ourselves.

We must not only “never forget,” we must remind each other every day what happens when we regard certain people as less than human.

We must look at one another not as outsiders, enemies or as different species but as one single biological family alone in all the universe. We must love and protect our Jewish family just as we do our LGBTQ family and our Islamic family. And we must cherish the family members who seem most foreign to us, the ones we don’t connect with and especially the ones we don’t agree with.

There is no “them” … there is only “us.”

We must treat antisemitism and indeed all anti-human hatred as a chronic disease, a deadly, highly contagious autoimmune disorder with no cure.

As such, we must fight it vigilantly, daily, forever, with everything we’ve got — because it will kill us if we don’t.

 

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GENOCIDE OR ANTI-SEMITISM
GENOCIDE OR ANTI-SEMITISM
1 month ago

There may possibly be a realignment on this subject in the near future. On Friday, Dec. 39, 2024, South Africa filed a case at the U.N. top Court if Justice accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza and asking the court to order a halt in attacks by Israel. Allegations of “acts and omissions by Israel…..genocidal in character” as they are committed with the intent “to destroy Palestinians in Gaza” as part if a broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group. S African President Ramaphosa has compared Israel”s policies regarding the Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza with… Read more »

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago

Most people get their news from sources that confirm their bias. That’s the only way I can account for any sympathy for Hamas and the Palestinians that I am reading here in these comments, and anything less than full support for Israel. I had no idea it was this bad.

Larry Block
1 month ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

So you think this publication confirms and anti-israel bias? The truth lives here, both sides.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Indeed it does! I am referring to the news sources other than this one that are consumed by the commenters who sympathize with Hamas and the Palestinians. Their opinions were formed before they came to this discussion.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago

The international media is far too uncritical when reporting from Palestinian sources. The low opinion that Western leftists generally have of Israel is a direct result of the negative coverage the Jewish state routinely gets in the establishment media, and that coverage depends in large part on what Palestinians tell Western journalists. 

Carleton cro9nin
1 month ago

In realty, we are all Children of Abraham.

myname
myname
1 month ago

ah yes, the 175 year old human that had many children.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago

I don’t know what people expect Israel to do! To say that Israel’s response to Oct. 7th is disproportionate is ludicrous! Hamas, and the citizens who put them in power, want nothing more than the complete annihilation of Israel and will stop at nothing until that is done. They will send a thousand bombs into Israel with no reporting of it, but when Israel retaliates with ONE bomb the whole world goes crazy. The Palestinian people have at various times been offered everything they say they want but they either refuse it or don’t respond at all. The Palestinians don’t… Read more »

queersforpalestine
queersforpalestine
1 month ago

The City is at its demise. You can’t walk the streets at night without being afraid. Businesses are escaping because we have incompetent City Council members who care more about their nails, hotel unions, and instagram likes than the demise of the rent stabilization ordinance and residents. Chealse loves Hamas, and I can’t wait for this progressive to shame West Hollywood evermore with the following headline: “Mayor of West Hollywood loves Hamas.” Shame on all of us for tolerated this incompetence, and allowed this person to represent us.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago

Unfortunately many people feel that this discussion about antisemitism is meant to blunt people’s concerns about Israel’s conduct of the war against Gaza. I fully support Israel’s right to exist; I oppose what appears to be the indiscriminate destruction in Gaza as inhumane and counter-productive. During the Vietnam War we thought carpet bombing rural villages would destroy the Viet Cong. That didn’t work out so well. It only made the Viet Cong stronger. I wish Israel would learn from our mistakes.

Eric
Eric
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

If Israel didn’t care about civilians in Gaza, the war would have ended Oct 8th. Facts! Now, there is this crazy idea to end this horrible war , release the hostages and surrender! You also can’t correlate Vietnam to this, very different. And not sure why you speaking of Trump to me below, but if we are to speak of political nut cases, I worry more about the deranged squad.

Misinformed
Misinformed
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric

It appears that you may be uninformed and/or not up to date about all the moving parts. There is repeated subterfuge being revealed on a daily basis regarding Israel’s long and short term actions.

resident
resident
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Terrible response. Didn’t realize you held such anti-semitic fews. I’ll never vote for you again.

no way
no way
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

That’s a sick comparison. Palestinians have slaughtering Jews in cafes, buses, and now in their homes, for 70+ years. The Vietnamese NEVER threatened a single American on our soil.

SteveB
SteveB
1 month ago

This is an article about antisemitism in West Hollywood, yet the commenters can’t wait to bring Israel into the discussion. Pathetic.

West
West
1 month ago
Reply to  SteveB

Everyone is concerned by the antics of “Goyim Defense League” disrupting our community. To me they seem like obvious agent provocateurs, with incoherent goals beyond stoking fear among our Jewish residents. To be fair half the article is spent discussing the foreign policy positions of local councilmembers relating to Israel. On that front it bears reminding that Sepi and Chelsea were recently courted by the Israeli lobby on an all expense paid “fact finding” trip, but the accusations of bias never relented. It’s remarkable that every one of them voted for the IHRA definition of antisemitism conflating antizionism with anti… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by West
Joshua88
Joshua88
1 month ago
Reply to  West

Bravo, West,

Truly...
Truly...
1 month ago

I am truly tired of Israel using the incomprehensible events of the Holocaust as a psychological weapon to silence anyone who dares to question its actions. Five million has been cited as the number of non-Jews killed by the Nazis. This figure is inaccurate and was apparently an invention of famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal. According to historian Deborah Lipstadt, he began to refer to “eleven million victims” of the Holocaust, six million Jews and five million non-Jews in the 1970s. Wiesenthal later admitted making up the figure to promote interest in the Holocaust among non-Jews. Lipstadt says “he chose five million… Read more »

Cal
Cal
1 month ago
Reply to  Truly...

Yes. Sad indeed, but alas, all true.

Londa
Londa
1 month ago
Reply to  Truly...

You can say whatever you want about the current situation, but let’s remember who started this. Hamas and 51 percent of Pastinies support them. Just because they are poor doesn’t mean they are innocent. Their hearts are filled with hatred, and they deserve everything they are getting.

Really...
Really...
1 month ago
Reply to  Londa

Netanyahu is venting his hatred of the Palestinians in a spectacular manner. I think the world would have been better off if we didn’t invent religion.

Joshua88
Joshua88
1 month ago
Reply to  Londa

“This” didn’t start on 10/7. Your ignorance is vast.

Rose
Rose
1 month ago
Reply to  Truly...

It may be an accurate figure or not. But those killed that were not Jewish did not belong or fit into an identifiable class, race, ideology and arrested and died in the camps. The Jews were arrested & tortured for long periods for one crime, being born Jewish , weather Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed or Christian Converts. Also Gypsies, Germans And people from every country because they tried to help the clearly “Identifiable Class of Victims” whose ‘crime and death sentence was the crime of being born. Here in the US, Black People, Gays, Jews and a list of others of… Read more »

Truly...
Truly...
1 month ago

I absolutely think that any nation has a right to self defense. However, Israel’s response to the horrific events of October 7th (carried out by the terrorist organization Hamas) is utterly disproportionate to the attack from Gaza. How many more THOUSANDS of innocent Palestinian civilians (including blameless children and women) have to die for the government of Israel to be satisfied? And they are most likely using weapons financed or provided by the United States (blood on our hands). Please realize that the U.S. gives Israel about 3.8 BILLION dollars a year in aid, most of it for military purposes. In… Read more »

Jake
Jake
1 month ago
Reply to  Truly...

You don’t get to decide on how “proportionate” the response is when your ELECTED government sends butchers into Israel to rape and murder civilians because they were Jewish. When Hamas paraded the hostages through Gaza, the civilians spit on them, threw rocks at them and even caught hostages and returned them to Hamas. Sorry but there are no innocents over there.

Really...
Really...
1 month ago
Reply to  Jake

So, even 5 year old children are not innocent? Get a grip!

Bottom Line
Bottom Line
1 month ago

No matter what stance you take on Israel/Palestine, the bottom line is that none of this would be occurring right now if Hamas and its followers had not, without provocation, brutally attacked, butchered, tortured, murdered, raped, burned, and kidnapped innocent Israelis on October 7.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bottom Line
Joshua88
Joshua88
1 month ago

First thing many people need to do is to GROW UP and understand that 1. being against Israeli politics or political leaders is not antisemitism, and 2. being anti-Zionist is not antisemitism.

Cal
Cal
1 month ago
Reply to  Joshua88

Very true

queersforpalestine
queersforpalestine
1 month ago
Reply to  Joshua88

stating that anti-zionism is not anti-semitims is like saying that queersforpalestine are welcome in Gaza.

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
1 month ago

It really isn’t. And to be fair- no one is welcome in Gaza because it’s an open air prison that can’t even get basic food and water inside.

Anti-zionism is not anti-semitism.

Joshua88
Joshua88
1 month ago

Is ignorance blissful?

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