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Outrage as Los Angeles synagogue hosting Muslim group covers up hostage posters

Conservative synagogue cancels lease to Muslim group after backlash from members, threats of mass departure; speaker at Ramadan event revealed to have supported Hamas' October 7 attack

A central Los Angeles synagogue leased its facility to a Muslim group for the holy month of Ramadan, covering up all posters of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on October 7 hanging on its walls.
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Photos of the covered posters circulated through the local Jewish community, stirring an uproar and prompting an emergency meeting on Tuesday by the synagogue administration after hundreds of members threatened to leave the congregation.
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Covered posters of Israeli hostages at the synagogue
Covered posters of Israeli hostages at the synagogue
Covered posters of Israeli hostages at the synagogue
(Photo: Courtesy)
The synagogue reconsidered and canceled the contract with the Muslim organization, after it was also revealed that one of the speakers slated for the event compared Israel's actions in Gaza after October 7 to Nazi Germany.
The Conservative synagogue in Los Angeles, HAMAKOM(formerly Temple Aliyah), which also operates a community center, school and kindergarten, rented out its premises to a local Muslim organization, the Islamic Society of West Valley (ISWV), for a Ramadan event, and ordered the hostages' posters to be covered.
"The fact that they felt the need to hide posters of hostages to make terrorists and their supporters feel more what? Comfortable? says it all. They want to bow down to those who hate us instead of standing up loud and proud in support and defense of Israel," a local community member told Ynet.
Another member said the synagogue's management, "Shoot themselves in the foot. What's happening to our people? When did we reach the point where we need to hide pictures of the captives to respect the Muslim community? And to host Ramadan in the synagogue? How can they explain such a thing?" she wondered.
The synagogue's management held an emergency meeting following concerns from community members "As a first step towards reconciliation, we invite you to join us at a members-only town hall meeting. This will be an opportunity for us to share more about the incident, our future plans-including clarifications on the potential sale of the campus - and to answer any questions you may have."
Previously, the synagogue released a letter that reached Ynet, in which they apologized for covering the hostages' posters. "Dear Valued HAMAKOM Community Members, the last 48 hours have been a period of reflection and concern for us all. On behalf of the senior rabbis, co-presidents, and executive director of HAMAKOM, we wish to extend our sincerest apologies for the recent challenges and misunderstandings that have arisen from our interactions with the Islamic Society of West Valley (ISWV). We acknowledge that our decision-making and communication processes were significantly flawed, leading to a loss of trust within our beloved community.
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הזדהות למען השבת החטופים חטופים נעדרים שבויים שבי ארגון טרור חמאס מלחמה מלחמת חרבות ברזל
הזדהות למען השבת החטופים חטופים נעדרים שבויים שבי ארגון טרור חמאס מלחמה מלחמת חרבות ברזל
Mural calling for release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, in Culver City, California
(Photo: Chris DELMAS / AFP)
"Firstly, we acknowledge the error in our decision to cover the hostage photos-a decision made under misguided judgment. We reversed this decision by 4 p.m. on Sunday, before the photo's publication, but failed to remove the cover promptly. This mistake was ours, and for it, we are deeply sorry. We also realize our lapse in communicating effectively about our plans to rent part of our facility for Ramadan evening prayer services. This decision was made without adequate notice or consultation. We failed to engage with our board of directors, school directors, teachers, and staff adequately, leaving them uninformed. For this oversight, we also offer our heartfelt apologies."
In the letter, the synagogue's management also addresses the community members' concerns about their personal security and said they had bolstered security prior to the event and added the community's security is a top priority for them. "We recognize these actions have eroded your trust in us. We are committed to learning from our mistakes and to regaining your confidence," they wrote.
In another letter, the synagogue's management added, "It has come to our attention that there was a speaker this evening, Hussam Ayloush, who has spoken out against Israel and its rightful actions to defend its people. Therefore, HAMAKOM has made the decision to immediately terminate its rental agreement with Islamic Society of West Valley. We cannot give audience to comments that denigrate Israel's right to protect itself after October 7th."

Antisemitism in a synagogue

Ayloush is the longtime leader of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the largest Arab-American organizations in the country. At an event late held last year, he said that Israel " does not have the right to defend itself, as an occupier to defend itself from the occupied. No, it doesn’t, this is not a rhetorical thing. It doesn’t, legally, under international law. No occupier has the right to defend itself from the occupied."
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הזדהות למען השבת החטופים חטופים נעדרים שבויים שבי ארגון טרור חמאס מלחמה מלחמת חרבות ברזל
הזדהות למען השבת החטופים חטופים נעדרים שבויים שבי ארגון טרור חמאס מלחמה מלחמת חרבות ברזל
Posters calling for release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, in Culver City, California
(Photo: Chris DELMAS / AFP)
He proceeded to give Nazi Germany as an example: "Imagine we tell Nazi Germany: ‘You have the right to defend yourself against French resistance, or Polish resistance, or Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto.’ People would laugh at you if you said that."
He also compared Israel's actions in Gaza to Russia's invasion of Ukraine: "Imagine if you said that Russia has the right to defend itself against Ukrainian resistance—you don’t. As long as you are an occupier, you do not have the right to resist or to defend yourself. Guess who has the right to defend themselves? The Palestinians.”
The synagogue administration claimed they were unaware of Ayloush's booking for an event in the complex, and in a letter to members, attempted to explain themselves. "We have heard from many of you about the recent decision to rent our synagogue to Islamic Society of West Valley (ISWV). Some of you have been very supportive of the decision as another important step in building bridges with an Islamic community we have been in dialogue with for six years."
"In a world where there is increasing antisemitism, we need to continue to work hard to engage with members of other faith communities, particularly our Islamic brothers and sisters to create understanding and a place for dialogue in our hate-filled world. We have equally heard from many of our members who are outraged at the decision we made. We were naively under the impression that this would be another step in making closer connections to those who wish to reach out in understanding and fellowship."
One community member said, "I don't understand, how do they not undergo screening before being accepted into our synagogue? These are our places to feel safe and secure in. Just as each candidate interviewing for a job would be thoroughly checked, the same should be done for anyone who wants to be involved in our community. I see people doing this every day in these wonderful groups we have – not to be judgmental, but out of an effort to ensure the safety of our community."
"Being 'naive' at this stage is unacceptable and dangerous. When will we stop trying to please everyone? When will we put our families and children first? This is a one-way street. You can say that these things are done to bridge peace and understanding, but since we haven't yet received open support from any Muslim community as a whole - we need to change this narrative."
Another community member added, "Jews everywhere need to wake up. When will we stop being those who cower and obey the order to be slaughtered? We've extended our hand in peace many times. But there's no partner for this peace. The other side wants to cancel us. To cover us up. There's no coexistence. It's not an option. Especially since cancel culture has infiltrated our society.
"This is one of the reasons why Generation Z adopted the Palestinian cause. Palestinians have horrible leadership, but their people aren't blaming it for their situation. As always, there's a scapegoat, the Jews. They can be blamed for every issue. Enough is enough."
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