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Pro-Palestinian group attacks Jews outside Los Angeles restaurant

(Ed. Note: This story is being updated throughout the day.)

A group of men wearing all black attacked young Jewish men outside of Sushi Fumi restaurant in Los Angeles Tuesday night.

Video of the incident, which took place just outside the Japanese restaurant on 300 North La Cienega Blvd., shows a group of men wearing all black with their faces covered attacking the men.

Cell phone video of a group of men attacking diners at a restaurant in the Beverly Grove neighborhood in Los Angeles, Calif. May 18, 2021

CBSLA obtained cell phone video of a group of men attacking diners at a restaurant in the Beverly Grove neighborhood in Los Angeles, Calif. May 18, 2021 Courtesy of CBSLA

In video clips that circulated social media shortly afterwards, a caravan of vehicles flying Palestinian flags appears in the background along with a man holding a megaphone.

An eyewitness to the attack, Natalie Schneider, who was dining at the restaurant told the Forward, “Those people know who lives in this area, that there is a big Jewish community, that’s why they arrived here, they were looking for Jews to attack. They were demanding to know who is Jewish and were very aggressive. I’m still shaken by what had happened.”

Video of the incident posted by the local CBS news affiliate shows the attack.

Schneider said the attack, “was worse than what the clip is showing. You can’t hear the profanity and anti-Semitic slurs they were using. Here were guys who were minding their own business, not bothering anyone, and they were attacked just for being Jewish. I am disgusted. I’ve lived in L.A. all my life and never encountered anything like this. I’m now fearful to identify myself as a Jew. I can’t believe this is happening here, I don’t feel safe anymore.”

Mher, a photographer was sitting with his friends for dinner when they were startled by glass bottles that were thrown at them. Shortly after he found himself fighting a group of men who attacked him and four other diners, all of whom are Jewish except for him.

In an interview the morning after the attack, Mher, who refused to give his last name for fear of retribution, told The Forward what made him intervene on behalf of the Jewish diners.

“I’m Armenian and was born in Beirut,” he said. “Many of my friends and clients are Jewish, including those I was meeting to talk about their wedding. We were having a quiet dinner when all of the sudden those men were throwing glass bottles at us. They were pro-Palestinian supporters. I immediately got up and saw two men running toward me. I started talking to them in Arabic, trying to calm them down, they stopped, probably surprised. Then, 15 more men started running toward us. They knocked down my Jewish friend to the ground and were kicking his head, I tried to push them off him and one of them punched me in the face. This all happened before someone started videotaping the incident.”

At that point, Mher is seen in the video clip, picking one of the poles trying to push away the attackers. “The all thing lasted maybe 15 minutes. I was hit repeatedly by six or seven men, they cut me on my shoulder and arm and one of them pepper sprayed me. They were about 25 to 30 years old”.

Mher called the police, who arrived shortly after.

“An ambulance came too, they asked me to lift my shirt, put it down and left,” said Mher, who later went to the hospital by himself. “My eyes were still burning when I went back home so I had to go to the emergency room. They took some X-rays said nothing is broken and released me. My shoulder still hurts but I’ll be OK. I was always taught not to stand silent when people are getting attacked. I would do it all over again. I will always defend what is right.”

Nathan Shaolian, whose brother was one of those attacked, posted to his Facebook page shortly afterward that “a group of Palestinians in an SUV” pulled up and shouted, “Who is Jewish?”

A caravan of people waving Palestinian flags chases a Jewish man on May 17, 2021, in the Fairfax District.

A caravan of people waving Palestinian flags chases a Jewish man on May 17, 2021, in the Fairfax District. Courtesy of JewishPrideAlways/Instagram

“Tonight was the scariest night of my life,” Nathan Shaolian posted. “Two of my brothers’ friends identified themselves as Jewish and got beaten down as a result. I’m pretty speechless at the moment but all I can say is be very careful out there if you are Jewish. Not many people have our back or truly understand this situation we are facing. People will forever be blindsided by the media and unfortunately it’s out of our control.”

In another incident on Tuesday night, Sherman Oaks Kosher restaurant Orange Delite & Grill was vandalized. The night before, on Monday, an Orthodox man was chased by a caravan of people. A security video showed the man being chased by a few cars with Palestinian flags. He was able to reach safety.

The LAPD is investigating the incidents as hate crimes. There are no suspects or arrests yet. Earlier on Tuesday, there was a pro-Palestinian rally outside the Israeli consulate in West L.A for the second week in a row.

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