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Fights Erupt After Screening of Film on Hamas Attack in Los Angeles

Fights Erupt After Screening of Film on Hamas Attack in Los Angeles

Law enforcement is on the scene after Paul Kessler, 69, suffered a head injury amid pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian protests in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Nov. 5, 2023. Mr. Kessler died in the hospital on Nov. 6. (Courtesy of Rabbi Mark Blazer)

City News Service

City News Service

11/9/2023

Updated: 11/9/2023

LOS ANGELES—A screening of a film depicting images of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel ended with a street brawl among pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters outside the Museum of Tolerance in West Los Angeles, where officials Nov. 9 were planning to discuss efforts to combat what they called a surge in antisemitism in the United States and abroad.
The Nov. 8 night event at the museum featured a screening of the 43-minute film “Bearing Witness,” which documents acts committed by Hamas against Israeli citizens. The screening, reportedly arranged in part by “Wonder Woman” actress Gal Gadot, who is Israeli, had sparked concerns of protests.
During the event, protesters carrying Israeli and Palestinian flags gathered along Pico Blvd. Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officials said there were no clashes between the sides during the screening. But clashes erupted later, with video showing fistfights spilling onto Pico Blvd.
“One hour after the event was over, a small group of demonstrators returned to the same location,” according to an LAPD statement. “Those demonstrators became involved in a physical fight that has been widely broadcast. Officers returned to the area and peace was restored. Two reports for battery were taken and will be thoroughly investigated. At this time, we do not have suspects in custody relating to the battery, or for any other reason relating to this event.
“The Los Angeles Police Department is committed to the safety of all Angelenos and facilitating their First Amendment rights.”
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass denounced the violence.
“We cannot allow current worldwide tension to devolve into this unacceptable violence in our city,” she wrote on social media Nov. 8 night. “This is a time of immense pain and distress for thousands of Angelenos. We must stand together.”
Paramedics assist Paul Kessler, 69, after he sustained a head injury during a fight with a pro-Palestinian protester in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Nov. 5, 2023. Mr. Kessler died in the hospital on Nov. 6. (Courtesy of Rabbi Mark Blazer)

Paramedics assist Paul Kessler, 69, after he sustained a head injury during a fight with a pro-Palestinian protester in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Nov. 5, 2023. Mr. Kessler died in the hospital on Nov. 6. (Courtesy of Rabbi Mark Blazer)

Jeffrey I. Abrams, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Los Angeles, issued a statement Nov. 8 calling the clashes “incomprehensible but not surprising.”
“The level of hatred directed at the Jewish community here and worldwide is unprecedented, horrific and becoming deadly,” Mr. Abrams said. “The targeting of Jews and Jewish institutions must stop now. We call on leaders across Los Angeles to speak out against this hateful targeting.”
Mr. Abrams added, “Notably, today is the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the ‘night of broken glass,’ when the Holocaust began in Germany and Austria. ADL will not remain silent in the face of antisemitism and hatred.”
Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and CEO of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s social action director, have scheduled a late morning news conference to discuss rising antisemitism and call on leaders globally to take steps to stop it.
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