Vandals threw rocks at the doors of an Armenian-owned restaurant and Temple Beth Israel, appearing to target the Jewish community.
“For those who are bent on hate, they ought to take time to actually meet and speak to people because I find … when we engage in dialogue, we realize that humans are almost completely interested in finding good, peaceful resolutions. Faceless people are easy to hate.” — Rabbi Rick Winer, Temple Beth Israel
Around 2 a.m. Tuesday., a man drove up to Noah’s Ark Restaurant & Bakery and threw two rocks at the glass doors. He also left behind Tuesday’s edition of the Fresno Bee with the writing “All Jewish Business will be targeted — PFLP,” according to owner Marieta Bagramyan. Bagramyan’s family is Armenian with no known Jewish ancestry.
Bhagramyan took PFLP to mean the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
“It’s just absolutely horrible, I don’t know how to describe it,” Bagramyan said. “Me and my family are kind of scared about the situation. I’m afraid every time the situation escalates in Gaza we’ll face the same situation again.”
Bagramyan thinks the name Noah’s Ark made criminals think they are Jewish.
Also this morning, criminals broke the windows to the front doors of Temple Beth Israel, said Rabbi Rick Winer.
While the attack at Temple Beth Israel did not have the same language as the attack at the restaurant, Winer said there’s strong reason to believe it was a purposeful hate crime.
“I keep in mind that our friends and family dealing with the terrorist violence have it a whole lot worse than a broken window,” Winer said.
Not the First Attack at Noah’s Ark
Bagramyan got a call from her mother this morning that the windows at their restaurant had been broken. Video surveillance shows a man in a hat drive up in a car and throw two rocks at the business.
This isn’t the first time the restaurant has been targeted.
In May, a video shows the same car drive up. The person at that time wore a mask, but Bagramyan thinks it was the same person.
A note said that “Israelis are killing Palestinians.”
Bagramyan said she worries about the family’s safety because sometimes they will be at the business late baking.
“We’re kind of scared that this will happen again because sometimes we’re staying here late until 2, 3 a.m. to prepare stuff for the next day,” Bagramyan said. “So thank God, these two times were not anyone over here. But what if the next time it happens and someone is here?”
Last time, replacing the glass cost almost $2,000. They have not gotten a quote to replace the latest broken glass yet.
Federal Authorities Probe Temple Beth Israel Vandalism
Winer said local law enforcement and federal authorities were “completely responsive” to the attack. They have an ongoing relationship with federal law enforcement. Winer did not want to disclose what federal agency was involved.
Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said on X — formerly Twitter — that while there were no indications the attack at the temple was a hate crime, it is being investigated as such.
Hate Crime Investigation Statement
“The Fresno Police Department is currently investigating two incidents that took place in our City overnight. The first occurred at the Temple Beth Israel. Around 6am, an employee discovered that glass in the front door had been broken by a… pic.twitter.com/dQoPBqkF5X
— Chief Paco Balderrama (@BalderramaPaco) October 10, 2023
“The Fresno Police Department will not tolerate any acts of violence, threats of violence, or efforts of intimidation towards any of our community members,” Balderrama tweeted.
He asked for anyone with information to contact the Fresno Police Department.
Temple Beth Israel previously has been targeted.
Following the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, vandals removed the word “Israel” from the temple’s entrance sign.
Winer hoped that disagreements could be resolved with dialogue.
“For those who are bent on hate, they ought to take time to actually meet and speak to people because I find, pretty much without fail that when we engage in dialogue, we realize that humans are almost completely interested in finding good, peaceful resolutions. Faceless people are easy to hate,” Winer said.