[Make sure to read Daniel Greenfield’s contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
The distance between a Turkish restaurant and a Sushi place in Los Angeles is a short drive and a politicized legal system that punishes attacks on Muslims and Jews very differently.
On Nov 4, 2020, during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, two Armenian men attacked a Turkish restaurant in Beverly Hills, California. Federal hate crimes charges were brought against them. One of the men in the ‘Islamophobic’ attack was sentenced to 5 years in prison while the other was thrown in jail for 15 months.
On May 18, 2021, during fighting between Israel and Hamas, a pro-terrorist convoy passed Sushi Fumi, a restaurant 10 minutes away from the Turkish place. Members of the convoy assaulted Jewish diners, waved a terror flag, demanded to know who at the restaurant was Jewish, and witnesses said chanted, “Death to Jews” and “Free Palestine”.
(Among the Jewish men, an Armenian Christian man dining with them also faced violence.)
There were no federal charges. The Muslims faced two two felony counts of assault. A judge let them off with probation and ordered them to visit a Holocaust museum.
The difference between 5 years in prison and an order to visit a Holocaust museum is the vast gulf between how attacks on Muslims and Muslim attacks on Jews are treated. While it can be hard to measure and compare the treatment of different groups, the attacks on two restaurants within walking distance of each other a year apart is revealing of the very different treatments.
Both of the attacks happened within the context of fighting abroad. Both involved convoys of protesters. In both cases, a vehicle diverted to a restaurant where its members expected to find members of a group they opposed. In both cases they demanded to know whether the people there were members of that group: Turkish in the former case and Jewish in the latter.
But the same basic behaviors led to very different consequences in a biased system.
An Armenian man got 5 years in prison because, in the words of the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, he “likely caused lasting psychological pain” to Muslims at a restaurant. Muslim thugs got a pass after kicking a Jewish man in the head.
The Department of Justice and the FBI got involved in the Muslim case. Not the Jewish case.
“The defendants violently attacked people inside a family-owned restaurant because of their perceived nationality,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke claimed of the Turkish case. “Such violence based on national origin has no place in our society. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute bias-motivated crimes in an effort to secure justice for the victims and the communities they are meant to target and intimidate.”
But it turns out that “such violence” does have a “place in our society” when directed at Jews, just not at Muslims. Attack a Turkish restaurant and you’ll spend half a decade in prison, but attack Jews at a restaurant in support of Islamic terrorists and you won’t even spend 24 hours in jail. Even when you’re booked for “assault with a deadly weapon” as part of a hate crime.
“Our police department together with our sheriff’s department, our FBI, and other partners is rightly investigating this assault as a hate crime,” Former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had said of the attack on Jews at the sushi place. The FBI apparently chose to do nothing about it.
The promised “full force” of the law was condensed down to some bias training.
The differing treatment of the assault on Muslims and Jews at Los Angeles restaurants was a decision partly made by the Justice Department and the local FBI office. Assistant Attorney General Kirsten Clarke had a long history of antisemitism that may have factored into it. But it was also a decision made by a local judge aided by members of the anti-Israel Left.
Jewish leftists swiftly rallied to the cause of the Muslim thugs who were represented by a Jewish lawyer. Rob Eshman, a Forward columnist and anti-Israel leftist, claimed that sentencing the Muslim attackers to visit a Holocaust museum “was fair, maybe even a little harsh”.
Rationalizations and excuses swiftly followed. The Jews had fought back which made them complicit in the violence. Non-prison sentences like this were part of “restorative justice”..
But what happened when a Turkish restaurant was attacked shows that for the lie that it is.
Accountability is possible: it’s just more possible for some groups than for others. The attention paid to the Cafe Istanbul attack by federal and local authorities and by the media diverged sharply from what happened when Jews were attacked by a Muslim pro-terrorist convoy.
There were no rationalizations allowed in the Cafe Istanbul attack. No one in the media bothered to report that the Armenian men had been responding to Islamic attacks on Armenians in the area. And no one asked to define what “likely caused lasting psychological pain” was even supposed to mean. No judges told them to just go visit a mosque to learn tolerance.
Armenian men had trashed a Turkish restaurant during a time when Black Lives Matter mobs routinely did such things and one of them was sent away for a period that more typically goes with a manslaughter conviction. Was this a consistent application of justice? No it was not.
Justice comes from consistent application of the law. An Armenian attack on Muslims should not be punished any differently than a Muslim attack on Jews or a BLM attack on anyone. But we don’t have a consistent justice system: what we have is a heavily politicized justice system.
Politics is the difference between a 5 year prison sentence and a free pass. Leftist politics prioritizes those crimes that are politically wrong based on which group is targeted.
A similar phenomenon happened in the recent killing of Paul Kessler, a Jewish man assaulted at a pro-Israel rally (pictured above), and the shootings of three Muslim men in Vermont. ATF agents showed up to arrest the man involved in the confrontation with the Muslim men and the shootings were, despite the complete absence of evidence of hate, attributed to Islamophobia. But much as in the Sushi Fumi case, the FBI is merely in “communication” in the Paul Kessler case. And without federal intervention, the outcomes and sentences are certain to be very different.
Our justice system has two very different standards that favor groups for political reasons. Even though Jews suffer the majority of hate crimes, especially violent ones, those are also the ones least likely to be punished. Last year, Americans for Antisemitism documented 194 cases of anti-Jewish assaults in New York City and found that only two cases led to prison time.
While the book gets put away when it comes to attacks on Jews: it’s thrown at Muslim cases.
Michael Wolfe, a Florida man, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and another 15 years probation, for throwing bacon at a mosque and vandalizing it. Wolfe had been facing life in prison for the behavior that BLM rioters had carried out unpunished across the country.
This is not justice. The Left claims that the justice system is biased. They’re right. And they are the ones who corrupted it. A generation of “progressive prosecutors” and “criminal justice reform” advocates, along with selective federal “civil rights” interventions, have made it so that similar crimes can lead to wildly different sentences in a politicized justice system.
And that means attacking Muslims at a restaurant gets you 5 years and attacking Jews at a restaurant some blocks away gets you a mandatory visit to a Holocaust museum.