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The Rising Tide of Hate: Protecting Our Houses of Worship

The sanctity of religious freedom is a cornerstone of democracy, an immutable right granted to all citizens regardless of faith. However, recent events have shown a disturbing trend where places of worship, which should be sanctuaries of peace, are now battlegrounds for hate. One stark example is the incident involving the Adas Torah synagogue in Los Angeles, which has brought to light the growing issue of religious intolerance in America. 

The Adas Torah Incident


Adas Torah, a synagogue situated in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles, became a flashpoint of violence recently. Pro-Hamas supporters gathered outside the synagogue, which sits in the second-largest hub for Jewish culture in the U.S., attempting to block the entrance. The situation escalated as these protesters attacked a crowd of Jewish residents across the street. The Jewish community, feeling cornered and under threat, issued a call to arms through social media platforms. What followed was a chaotic street brawl that led to multiple injuries before the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) finally intervened.


L.A. Assemblyman Isaac G. Bryan captured the essence of the shock and horror felt by many when he posted on X, "Nobody should ever be unsafe gathering in a house of worship." Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass also condemned the violence, stating, "[The] violence in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood today was abhorrent, and blocking access to a place of worship is unacceptable. I’ve called on LAPD to provide additional patrols in the Pico-Robertson community as well as outside of houses of worship throughout the city. I’ll be meeting with Chief Choi to further discuss the safety of Angelenos."


A Broader Trend


Sadly, Adas Torah is not an isolated case. Across the county, houses of worship have been experiencing similar disruptions, where agitators weaponize social media to incite hatred and violence. Churches, mosques, and temples are increasingly reporting incidents of blocked entrances, physical assaults, and even vandalism, all carried out by groups looking to intimidate believers and their families.


Social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram have become double-edged swords, enabling the rapid spread of misinformation and calls for violent action. The Adas Torah incident serves as a grim reminder of how quickly an online call-to-arms can transform into real-world violence.


The response (or lack thereof) from law enforcement and city officials has also been troubling. Despite clear and present dangers, many local authorities have been slow to act due to bureaucratic inertia or political considerations. The Adas Torah incident saw the LAPD intervene only after the situation had already escalated into violence, a delay that likely contributed to the injuries sustained by innocent people.


Policy Recommendations


Increased Patrols: As Mayor Karen Bass suggested, increased patrols around houses of worship are a necessary immediate measure to deter potential attacks.

  

Mandatory Training: Law enforcement agencies should undergo mandatory training focused on dealing with religious hate crimes.


Legislative Measures: Lawmakers should consider enacting more robust hate crime legislation to protect houses of worship better.


Stricter Penalties: Imposing stricter penalties on crimes committed at places of worship could serve as a deterrent.

  

Special Task Forces: Establishing special task forces dedicated to monitoring and responding to threats against religious communities.


Community Security Initiative


Programs like the Community Security Initiative (CSI), already implemented by Jewish organizations in cities like Los Angeles, could serve as models for other religious communities. These programs provide security-related services and utilize modern technology to detect and prevent threats.


As we witness a troubling wave of violence against houses of worship, it becomes increasingly clear that more proactive measures are needed to safeguard our fundamental right to religious freedom. From increased security measures to better use of social media monitoring, a multi-faceted approach is required. As citizens, we must stand firm against intolerance and advocate for policies that protect our communities.


Just as Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Scientologists, Buddhists, and Hindus stand with the Adas Torah synagogue and the Jewish community against hate of any kind, so must we all stand united in the fight for religious freedom, ensuring that our places of worship remain sanctuaries of peace and unity.

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