Skip to main content

'Outrageous': Pro-Palestine activists slam Biden for labelling protest 'antisemitic'

Activists say they protested outside a synagogue in LA because real estate firms were advertising land in the occupied West Bank when no Jewish worship was held
Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers face off with pro-Palestine protesters gathered outside the Adas Torah Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Los Angeles, 23 June 2024 (DAVID SWANSON / AFP)

Pro-Palestine activists have slammed US President Joe Biden's administration for "mischaracterising" a protest outside a California synagogue where real estate firms are accused of advertising properties for sale in the occupied West Bank.

The demonstration occurred outside the Adas Torah temple, an Orthodox synagogue near Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. Protesters wearing keffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags gathered outside the synagogue after seeing an advertisement that promoted residential homes for sale in "the best Anglo neighbourhoods in Israel".

Biden waded into the protest on Monday, saying on X he was "appalled by the scenes outside of Adas Torah… Intimidating Jewish congregants is dangerous, unconscionable, antisemitic and un-American".

Anti-war group CodePink, which organises pro-Palestine protests, slammed Biden for alleging that the demonstration was antisemitic.

“It is outrageous that President Biden and certain media outlets have misrepresented this protest as an antisemitic attack on worshippers," the group said, noting no religious services were scheduled at the time of the real estate event and a counter pro-Israel protest held at the same time outside.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Biden's swift condemnation of the pro-Palestine demonstrators elicited a rebuke on social media, where critics pointed out his measured response to the attempted drowning of a three-year-old Palestinian-American at a neighbourhood pool in Texas. 

"The difference in these two statements is pretty remarkable. The first one is outraged, angry and specific, the second is vague, dispassionate and basically thoughts and prayers," one person said on X. 

Codepink also refuted Biden's claim that protesters blocked the entrance to the synagogue.

The group noted that the protest was sparked by a real estate event. Some of the real estate firms listed as sponsors like Emanuel Group specialise in properties within Israel, but other firms are known to advertise residential property within the occupied West Bank. 

"The protest was solely focused on the illegal sale of Palestinian land. We respect religious practices and make sure our actions are directed toward real estate activities, not against worshippers," Codepink said.

In March, protests erupted outside a synagogue in New Jersey when the company hosted a similar real estate event.

New Jersey real estate fair marketing land in occupied West Bank draws charged protests
Read More »

"You cannot sell anything that isn't yours. [And] these sales are taking place in New Jersey and then they are going there [to the occupied West Bank] and taking people's homes," a pro-Palestine activist at the New Jersey event told Middle East Eye.

"This is a violation of international law. It is abhorrent that we had to come out here to protest against this," Alex, who only offered his first name, added.

The event was especially charged because pro-Israel demonstrators also gathered outside the synagogue. Codepink claimed that Los Angeles police employed a double standard against the pro-Palestine protestors.

The activist group, the People's City Council said on X that "every single elected official in Los Angeles commenting on this is being so disingenuous, it's disgusting", as it noted that the synagogue was hosting a sale of land in the occupied West Bank, not a religious event. 

The group shared a video from the scene where pro-Israeli demonstrators could be heard stating racial slurs at the pro-Palestine crowd: "Sand n****rs go home. Sand n****rs go home."

Codepink said pro-Israel demonstrators attacked them and stole their phones, while the "LAPD stood by, offering support to the aggressors".

"While our comrades were physically assaulted, pepper/bear sprayed, and attacked as they walked back to their cars, LAPD did nothing to keep us safe but rather pushed and used their combat toys to add to injury."

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.