Son of prominent DC-area rabbi arrested for allegedly shoving anti-Israel protesters

CAIR demands ‘hate crime’ investigation against Ezra Weinblatt for incident outside Israeli embassy in Washington; Weinblatt calls demonstrations ‘illegal and annoying’

Ezra Weinblatt is handcuffed by police officers after an alleged assault on pro-Palestinian protesters outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, April 16, 2024. (Screen capture: X/CAIR, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Ezra Weinblatt is handcuffed by police officers after an alleged assault on pro-Palestinian protesters outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, April 16, 2024. (Screen capture: X/CAIR, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States Secret Service earlier this week arrested the son of a prominent DC-area rabbi after he allegedly got into an altercation with protesters outside the Israeli Embassy.

Two witnesses quoted in a Secret Service police arrest sheet accused Ezra Weinblatt, a real estate agent, of pushing them on April 16 at around noon and breaking their sound equipment. Weinblatt is the son of Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, who leads Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Maryland.

The younger Weinblatt told Secret Service police “what [the protesters] were doing is illegal and annoying,” according to the arrest sheet, which was obtained by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group that has advocated against Israel during its war with Hamas in Gaza.

The Secret Service confirmed the arrest to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“On April 16 at approximately 11:55 a.m. US Secret Service Uniformed Division officers arrested an individual at 3514 International Drive, NW after an altercation,” a spokesman said. “The individual was arrested for ‘destruction of property’ and ‘simple assault.’”

An Instagram video linked in the CAIR release showed a man throwing sound equipment outside the embassy on Tuesday around noon. Several women’s voices shout “Zionism is a sin,” “This man assaulted her” and “What is wrong with you!” while a recording of an air raid siren is heard on repeat. The man heads back to his car but is arrested by Secret Service police. He goes peacefully.

“Law enforcement should consider hate crime charges against Mr. Weinblatt,” CAIR’s national office wrote on X.

Ezra Weinblatt is on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. His Twitter feed is mostly retweets of pro-Israel commentary on the Israel-Hamas war.

In November, he posted an op-ed at the Times of Israel in the form of an open letter to the non-profit Save the Children, appealing to it not to quote information dispensed by Hamas and affiliated groups. In the op-ed, he describes what he depicts as tactics of intimidation at anti-Israel protests.

“The threat of violence, and violence against the Jewish community is frightening and real, not imagined,” Weinblatt said.

Protests at the embassy have intensified through the war; a pro-Palestinian US airman self-immolated outside the embassy in February, later dying from his injuries.

Illustrative: Demonstrators gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington to call for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, March 2, 2024. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Jewish officials who have visited the embassy have complained to the US State Department about the intensity of the protest, including the loud air raid siren. The protests and whether the State Department, one of the agencies responsible for the security of diplomats, can do more to protect the embassy was a topic of discussion on Tuesday at a meeting between Jewish community leaders and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Protesters have approached people entering the embassy, running in front of them and recording them on smartphones, accusing them of being complicit in genocide and hurling insults and derisive comments about their appearance.

The elder Weinblatt has been prominent for years in the Washington Jewish community. He leads the Zionist Rabbinic Coalition.

Neither Weinblatt returned requests for comment, nor did the JCRC.

 

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