Demonstrators Cause Damage in Protest
Starbucks and Walgreens locations in Oakland, California, fell victim to vandalism during an anti-Israel protest on Thursday. The Oakland Police Department reported that the demonstration, involving around 30 people, began near the federal building on Clay Street after 7:30 p.m. Windows were broken at both Starbucks and Walgreens, and an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank was also damaged. Graffiti with messages such as “Free Gaza” and “Death 2 Zionism” were found on several buildings. The incident culminated in an act of vandalism that read, “homeless lives matter.”
Investigating Possible Hate Crime
The recent act of vandalism occurred shortly after Oakland’s largest menorah was desecrated during the sixth night of Hanukkah. Authorities are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin of Temple Sinai of Oakland expressed vulnerability and emphasized the need to differentiate between anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Jewish actions. The desecration of the menorah was seen as a clear-cut case of hate crime.
Pro-Palestine Vigil Condemns Israeli Actions
On the evening of the protest, Oakland activists organized a pro-Palestine vigil near Lake Merritt. Speakers at the event condemned the actions of the Israeli military, citing the Palestinian Health Ministry’s reports of a growing death toll. Israel had declared war against Hamas, which operates out of the Gaza Strip, in response to terror attacks on southern Israeli communities. The attacks included heinous acts of violence, such as beheadings, killing infants, and sexual assault.
Concerns about Divisiveness
Rabbi Mates-Muchin voiced concerns about the divisive rhetoric surrounding the pro-Palestinian vigil, which threatens the unity of Oakland’s residents. She expressed that while such vigils may not have a direct impact on the situation in Israel and Gaza, they can harm the relationships within the community. The rabbi believes that unity can lead to positive change.
A Call Against Hate
Earlier this month, an Oakland coffee shop faced backlash when employees were seen in a video blocking a Jewish woman from using the restroom while making anti-Israel comments. The incident led to public apologies and the termination of the employees involved. Mansi Katchuria, a co-organizer of the pro-Palestine vigil, defended the event but condemned the desecration of the menorah. Katchuria expressed the exhaustion and heartbreak felt by the community, acknowledging the rise in both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. The organizers of the vigil stand firmly against hate in all its forms.