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Antisemitic Graffiti Spree in Santa Monica Part of Skyrocketing Trend


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By Jorge Casuso

April 8, 2024 -- Santa Monica police are investigating a spate of antisemitic graffiti as protests and hate crimes targeting Jews and Israel continue to spread across the nation.

SMPD has received multiple reports of antisemitic markings on sidewalks, trees and light posts in various locations across the city, including the Pico Neighborhood, police officials said Sunday.

"Let me be clear: there is no place for hate in Santa Monica," Police Chief Ramon Batista said in a statement. "We are appalled by these cowardly acts of antisemitism.

"Our department is fully committed to upholding the safety and dignity of all members of our community."

The graffiti comes as protests and hate crimes against Jews continue escalating in the wake of Israel's war on Hamas, the militant group that mounted a terrorist attack in Gaza on October 7, massacring 1,139 people and taking some 250 hostage.

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a plan to combat the wave of antisemitism, which "has proliferated at a shocking speed in recent years, globally and here in California."

The plan notes that "Jewish people make up about 3 percent of California’s population, but anti-Jewish hate crimes accounted for 62.4 percent" of all reported religious hate crimes.

Incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism against Jews in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 3,697 in 2022, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which began tracking the incidents in 1979.

In California, "Anti-Jewish bias events" increased 24.3 percent from 152 in 2021 to 189 in 2022, according ADL data.

Newsom's plan, which addresses "violence and threats (that) have escalated since the terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7th" increases funding to beef up security in Jewish communities.

It also boosts funding to address antisemitic incidents and "all hate violence," and changes student codes of conduct on campuses where protests and violence have taken place.

The plan was crafted in conjunction with Jewish organizations, including the California Legislative Jewish Caucus comprised of 18 California legislators, including two representing Santa Monica.

In November, the caucus sent a letter to top officials of the State's university systems expressing "outrage and concern" over the recent "explosion" of antisemitism on campuses ("Jewish Caucus Calls for Immediate Halt to Antisemitism on State Campuses," November 7, 2023).

The rise in antisemitism on college campuses is reflected in a study released in December by Brandeis based on survey data collected from nearly 2,000 Jewish undergraduate students at 51 schools with large Jewish student populations.

The study found that three of the top 10 schools with the highest level of hostility against Jewish students are in California -- UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego. Another three are in New York.

Titled "In the Shadow of War: Hotspots of Antisemitism on US College Campuses," the survey found that "antisemitic hostility varies dramatically from one campus to the next."

The differences were mainly political, with more students "concerned about antisemitism related to criticism of Israel than they were about antisemitism related to traditional anti-Jewish stereotypes," the study found.

"In the context of the war, at all schools, Jewish students were substantially more concerned about antisemitism coming from the political left than they were about antisemitism from the political right," according to the report.

"Concern about antisemitism from the political left was not limited to politically moderate or conservative Jewish students: 41% of liberal Jewish respondents were very concerned about antisemitism from the political left (54% of all respondents were liberal)."

Santa Monica's graffiti spree comes less than four months after an eight-foot-tall menorah on Montana Avenue was vandalized in December, resulting in "thousands of dollars in damage" ("Police Investigate Menorah Vandalism Incident," December 18, 2023).

Police officials said the Department "is dedicating resources to identify the offender" responsible for the graffiti and urges anyone with information about the recent acts to come forward.

"The Department expresses its unequivocal condemnation of these hateful acts," police officials said. "This behavior deeply offends the values of our inclusive community and will not be tolerated."

To report newly discovered graffiti call 310-458-8491 to speak with a non-emergency dispatcher or use the Santa Monica 3-1-1 App.

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