Jewish Man Dies In California Protest Clash
A Jewish man dies in California protest clashduring a confrontation with a pro-Palestinian demonstration over the Israel-Hamas conflict.
A rabbi who interviewed witnesses said that the guy had been struck in the mouth with a megaphone just before he fell to his death. The authorities are asking for the public's assistance in solving the mystery.
At a pro-Palestinian rally on Sunday afternoon in Thousands Oaks, a suburb northwest of Los Angeles, Paul Kessler, 69, fell backward and banged his head on the ground, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. He died early Monday morning at a hospital.
Pro-Palestinian protester remained behind and informed authorities he'd dialed 911, according to Fryhoff.
What exactly transpired prior to Mr. Kessler falling backward isn’t crystal clear right now.- Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff
According to Blazer, Kessler and the other pro-Israel protesters were standing in Thousand Oaks when two pro-Palestinian supporters crossed the street and "got in the faces" of the group.
The man hit Paul in the face with a megaphone. That 100% happened. He hit him right in the mouth and he went down.- Rabbi Mark Blazer
It has not been ruled out as a hate crime, Fryhoff said, but detectives are obtaining contradicting information from witnesses on both sides about what happened before the fall. There have been no arrests made, and authorities have asked the public for any available camera evidence.
Paul was still conscious when he went down. At first he thought he lost some of his teeth because he was hit so hard in the mouth, but once he went down, he hit his head on the pavement.- Rabbi Mark Blazer
As the casualty toll in the Israel-Hamas conflict climbs, emotions in the United States have been rising and demonstrations have become commonplace.
Authorities say the landlord of a 6-year-old Palestinian American kid stabbed him 26 times last month in retaliation for rising right-wing rhetoric over the conflict.
Fryhoff claims that there have been 21 protests in Ventura County since Hamas's assault on Israel on October 7.
Fryhoff claims that Kessler was present at the rally, which was billed as a peaceful demonstration in favor of the Palestinian people.
Fryhoff estimated that there were around 75 individuals there, and that there had been no signs of violence in the neighborhood in the 15 minutes before to the incident.
Temple Ner Simcha Rabbi Michael Barclay, who knew Kessler, told The Post that for the previous three weeks, the same group of pro-Palestine protesters had gathered on the same intersection in Westlake. Barclay has advised his congregation against engaging with the group.
They have people out there being real jerks, interrupting people, making real threats and saying profanity.- Temple Ner Simcha Rabbi Michael Barclay
These people who are doing demonstrations have no idea what they’re talking about, and are just being used. These people are unaware of what they’re even chanting for … that’s why I have suggested to the congregation that you’re not going to change their mind. Don’t even be in the area because they’re looking to have fights.- Temple Ner Simcha Rabbi Michael Barclay
As Kessler's murder attests, antisemitic violence has been on the rise in the four weeks since Hamas's invasion of southern Israel sparked an all-out conflict in the volatile area.
A knife-wielding lady was arrested in New York over the weekend for reportedly ripping down flyers of abducted Israelis and pepper spraying a Jewish safety volunteer.
The circumstances surrounding the incident are still unclear, and while the possibility of a hate crime has not been ruled out, no arrests have been made.
Kessler's death has shocked the community and comes amid a troubling increase in antisemitic violence following the conflict between Hamas and Israel.
The incident has raised concerns about the rise in antisemitic violence, with another incident reported in New York over the weekend. These events have sparked fears and tensions within the Jewish community.