LA elected, religious leaders condemn local hate crimes

Dozens of elected officials, faith leaders and community organizers gathered in downtown Los Angeles Thursday to condemn recent hate crimes in the city, including an attack on Jewish diners at a Beverly Grove restaurant by a pro-Palestinian group.

"We stand against the idea that Jews should be singled out and attacked because of who they are,'' Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the gathering outside City Hall.

The attack on Jewish diners occurred shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday outside Sushi Fumi in the 300 block of North La Cienega Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, which confirmed the incident was being investigated as a possible hate crime. Witnesses said the attack, which was caught on cell phone video, was carried out while a caravan of vehicles with pro-Palestinian flags taunted the crowd and threw bottles at other diners.

RELATED: Hate crime investigation underway in Beverly Grove

On Monday, a separate incident was caught on video, showing an Orthodox Jewish man being chased by a caravan of people waving Palestinian flags near Rosewood and La Brea avenues. The man escaped and was not hurt. 

The incidents occurred in the wake the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which at least 200 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's bombing of Gaza, while Hamas rocket attacks have killed at least 12 Israelis. Both sides declared a cease-fire on Thursday.

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The local officials gathered in downtown Los Angeles condemned the local attacks, which Los Angeles police said are believed to be related, although no other details have been released.

"This cannot stand,'' said Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. "We cannot allow the importing of the Hamas war to our beloved city. L.A. is the second city of every national and ethnic group in the world.''

Hedab Tirefi of the Islamic Center of Southern California said the center "unequivocally condemns the attacks that took place by individuals in a vehicle waving the Palestinian flag and provoking and instigating attacks in a predominantly Jewish part of Los Angeles.''

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City Councilman Paul Koretz said he was "outraged'' by the local attacks. "Both of these were anti-semitic hate crimes, and they are unconscionable,'' he said. "Today we're gathered as elected leaders, law enforcement and religious leaders to continue the critical conversation as to what we must do to secure our streets and our neighborhoods as we try to heal.''

On Tuesday, a large crowd of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli consulate in West Los Angeles. The rally was organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement. Over the weekend, thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied in Westwood calling for an end to the violence.

The local office of the Council on American Islamic Relations issued the following statement Wednesday: "As a civil rights and advocacy organization, we support everyone's right to free speech, the right to assemble and rally in support of their respective political views.

"However, despite heightened tensions in Palestine and Israel, it is never acceptable for that conflict to spill over into our streets and cities. Violence and intimidation should be condemned, investigated, and if warranted, prosecuted.''

The Anti-Defamation League announced a reward of $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the assault on the diners.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles' Community Security Initiative held a briefing Thursday morning with local and national political and law enforcement officials to "address these pressing and deeply concerning issues.''

"CSI is reaching out to all our partners across the community to assure them that our Federation will do everything to protect their institutions and our Jewish community,'' according to the group.