Anti-Semitic Graffiti At Multiple Westside Schools Marks The 2nd Local Incident Targeting Jewish People This Week

Leslie Gollub, left, and Gretchen Gordon hug after a recent anti-Semitic attack in California. (Denis Poroy/AP)

Lita Martinez, Itxy Quintanilla and Jessica Ogilvie contributed to this report.

Anti-Semitic graffiti was found Tuesday on the Bel Air campus of American Jewish University, at Westwood Charter School and at one other school on the westside of Los Angeles.

Phrases and images were painted on AJU's sign on Mulholland Drive as well as across the street on a retaining wall that is also school property, according to Jeffrey Herbst, the university's president. They were discovered Tuesday morning by staff.

"'Time to pay' was one phrase, and 'Time to do the time' or something close to it [was] in another place," said Herbst. The images "had a mildly satanic vibe."

At Westwood Charter, an elementary school approximately 10 miles south of AJU, paint was spilled that "appeared to form a swastika," according to a message sent to parents and posted on social media:

Tony Im, a public relations officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, confirmed that two schools "on the 1500 block of Mulholland Drive" had been vandalized. He could not confirm their names.

Milken Community High School, a private Jewish high school and middle school, is located less than one mile from AJU on Mulholland Drive.

The incidents come just days after a vandal broke into and desecrated Beverly Hills' Nessah Synagogue. On Saturday morning, the suspect allegedly entered that property, upended furniture and damaged several relics inside. The synagogue's main scrolls were untouched.

On Wednesday, police arrested Anton Nathaniel Redding, 24, of Millersville, Pennsylvania in connection with the vandalism of Nessah Synagogue, according to the Beverly Hills Courier. The incident at is being investigated as a hate crime.

Information about the incident at AJU has been forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigations as a possible hate crime as well.

The Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate organization which tracks anti-Semitic incidents across the country, received reports of 36 such occurences in the city of Los Angeles this year and 83 last year. On the whole, however, attacks against Jewish people are on the rise in the area.

In California, the ADL tracked 215 anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, 320 incidents in 2017 and 473 incidents in 2018. Those numbers align with national statistics; the organization tracked 1,267 incidents in the U.S. in 2016. By 2018, that number was up to 1,879.

Herbst said that the current climate adds another layer of worry to this morning's discovery.

"Of course we are aware of the rise in anti-Semitic attacks nationwide, and the vandalism most recently in the synagogue in Beverly Hills," he said. "We don't know if this incident is related to any of the national trends or what's happened elsewhere in Los Angeles, but of course we're concerned."

UPDATES:

Dec. 19, 1:36 p.m.: This article was updated to report that an arrest was made in connection with the vandalism of Nessah Synagogue.

This article was originally published on Dec. 17 at 8:25 p.m.