As war rages in the Middle East, anti-Jewish hate crimes surge in Los Angeles

Reports up 27% over last year. Police direct extra patrols to numerous communities
Hate Crime

Illustration of a synagogue vandalized with graffiti-signed


Early on the morning of Oct. 25, a Jewish family in Studio City was awakened by a man trying to kick down their door. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, he was yelling “Free Palestine” and “Kill Jews, kill Jews.” Police were called and the man, identified as Daniel Garcia, was arrested. The office of District Attorney George Gascon described it as an antisemitic attack, and Garcia has been charged with a series of felonies. 


The incident sent shockwaves through the community, not only for the threat posed to the family, but also because it was one of an increasing number of anti-Jewish hate crimes chronicled in Los Angeles since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, and the ensuing full-scale war in Gaza.


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Through Oct. 28 of this year, the LAPD registered 111 anti-Jewish hate crimes, according to Compstat data. That is up 27.6% from the same period last year, and already exceeds the 107 such reports in the entirety of 2022. 


Bar chart of annual anti-Jewish hate crimes in Los Angeles


LAPD Chief Michel Moore drew attention to the situation during the Oct. 24 meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission. He said in the two weeks after Oct. 7, “hate crimes have surged 40%, with 49 hate crimes reported in that two-week period, versus 35 in the same period last year. That’s an increase of 14 additional hate crimes.”


Line chart of weekly hate crimes in Los Angeles


Moore said the majority of the additional reports were anti-Jewish, though he added that “anti-Islamic as well as Anti-Arab hate crimes also have increased.”


According to publicly available LAPD data, there have been nine Anti-Arab hate crimes in the city in the first 10 months of the year, and four reports of anti-Muslim hate crimes. The city recorded 13 anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate crimes in all of 2022, and nine in 2019. 


A time of ‘deep anxiety’

Los Angeles, like many cities across the globe, has seen fierce division and protests following the Hamas attacks and Israel’s military response in Gaza. As thousands have died in the Middle East, California has experienced demonstrations on the streets and heated discussions on college campuses. 


Los Angeles has the second-largest Jewish population in the United States, with approximately 565,000 Jewish residents. The city is also home to half a million Muslim residents and over 300,000 Arab residents. 


Los Angeles has long recorded a sizable number of anti-Jewish hate crimes, but as Moore referenced, the situation has grown more precarious since Oct. 7. Many Jewish Angelenos are experiencing “deep anxiety,” said Sam Yebri, a community leader and board member of the legal services nonprofit Bet Tzedek. Some families are even considering taking down visible symbols of Jewish identity, he said. 


“There’s a growing conversation about moving mezuzahs from doorways of our homes, not attending Jewish events, and hiding any visible displays of being Jewish among many in the Jewish community right now,” Yebri said.


Conflicts are happening across the country. Last week, an elderly Jewish man died in Thousand Oaks after reportedly being hit in the head. Paul Kessler was seen holding an Israeli flag as part of a group protesting a free Palestine rally. At some point, possibly after being struck, he fell to the ground, and his head hit the street. No arrests have been made. 


Line chart of monthly anti-Jewish hate crimes in Los Angeles.


Worsening situation

From Jan. 1–Oct. 28, the city tabulated 677 hate crimes, a nearly 8% rise from the same time frame last year, according to Compstat data. In 2022 the city recorded more hate crimes than any previous year.


The situation is likely much worse than what is publicly identified: Hate crimes are notoriously underreported, with victims frequently fearful of going to police or worried that their claims will not be taken seriously. The LAPD has a dedicated hate crimes unit that seeks to build trust with many communities in the effort to increase reporting.


The city also records hate incidents, in which bias against a certain group is seen, but no prosecutable crime has been committed. The department has recorded 489 such reports this year, up 23% from the same period in 2022.


The greatest number of hate crimes in the city this year has been suffered by Black Angelenos. There were 172 reports through Oct. 28. That is down 1.7% from last year.


Although anti-Jewish hate crimes account for a smaller percentage of the total, the recent uptick has been stark. Moore has announced that his officers are conducting more frequent patrols in areas with Jewish and Muslim populations.


Since the start of the year, the San Fernando Valley neighborhoods of Encino and Granada Hills have experienced the most anti-Jewish hate crimes. The neighborhoods of Pico-Robertson and Fairfax, which both have large numbers of Jewish residents, have also been the site of numerous reports. 


Table of neighborhoods with the most anti-Jewish hate crimes this year


Nearly half of all anti-Jewish hate crimes through the end of October were reports of vandalism. The situation continues. On Nov. 1, antisemitic graffiti was scrawled on the side of Canter’s Deli in Fairfax. Similar messages were found the same day near the synagogue Congregation Bais Yehuda and the gift shop Chabad-Atara’s Judaica in Fairfax.


In his neighborhood, Yebri said he has seen cars with Israeli flags keyed and posters showing Israeli hostages defaced. He also regularly receives “threatening, antisemitic” social media messages. Many of these incidents go unreported, he said.


“At some point, there are so many anti-Jewish incidents that it’s no longer feasible to report them,” he said.


How we did it: We examined publicly available crime data from the Los Angeles Police Department from Jan. 1, 2018–Oct. 28, 2023, as well as LAPD hate crimes Compstat data. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflects crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


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