Temple Sinai in Oakland. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons-Jayjg)
Temple Sinai in Oakland. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons-Jayjg)

Oakland’s Temple Sinai bulks up security after mayoral candidate’s screed

After Oakland mayoral candidate Peter Y. Liu issued an antisemitic screed in response to being left out of an election forum at Temple Sinai, security is being upgraded for Monday evening’s event.

Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin
Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin

Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin said synagogue security had already been tight, but that additional measures were implemented after the incident.

“It’s hard,” she said. “Anytime we come up against this kind of antisemitism, it’s scary.”

Security will be handled both privately and in cooperation with the Oakland Police Department. Tye Gregory, CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council, which is co-hosting the event, called it “an upgraded plan in light of increased attention on the forum.”

“Discussions have been taking place with Oakland PD, and both Oakland PD and private hired security will be present at and around the temple,” he told J. in an email.

On Sept. 4, Liu sent an email calling Jews “evil,” “hateful” and “corrupt” to dozens of Bay Area journalists, news organizations, Jewish community contacts and fellow candidates.

Later, according to the Oaklandside, he wrote in another mass email that he would “notify all veteran organizations” about his complaints and then wrote: “I am not afraid of jail. I long overcame fear of getting killed, I was a combat veteran. If I die, I die on righteous grounds. I fear no enemies at this point.”

His rant was about being excluded from the forum; only three candidates were invited out of a slate of 10. The invited candidates were the top three in terms of fundraising, and all are city council members: Treva Reid, Loren Taylor and Sheng Thao.

The forum will address “the critical issues facing our community and the City of Oakland, such as rising hate against Jews and other minorities, advancing racial and economic justice [and] ensuring community security,” according to the JCRC event webpage.

Liu’s comments echoed antisemitic conspiracy theories about Jewish control over the media.

An undated photo of Oakland mayoral candidate Peter Liu. (Photo/Courtesy Oakland North)
An undated photo of Oakland mayoral candidate Peter Liu. (Photo/Courtesy Oakland North)

“These s**tty Jews are once against [sic] trying to disrespect the voters of Oakland in rigging the election process by promoting a few candidates they’ve handpicked to be in front of Jews controlled media,” Liu wrote. “I am sick of these corrupt Jews and their media allies deceiving the public.”

The Anti-Defamation League condemned the comments in a statement.

“ADL does not endorse or oppose candidates for office. But when a mayoral candidate invokes centuries-old antisemitic conspiracy theories of Jewish control and power, we will speak out,” read the statement from Seth Brysk, ADL regional director. “Claims that Jews are ‘corrupt,’ ‘control the media,’ and that a ‘Jew supremacy’ exists are exactly the kind of antisemitic messages that can and do inspire violence against Jews and other minority groups.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Liu also wrote in emails that if he ever became mayor, he would disrupt Temple Sinai by allowing “sideshows every weekend … We be doing donuts, freestyle burnt out tires. Night time rave parties.”

Liu ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 2014 and 2018 and is known for making extreme statements, including calling homosexuality a sin and suggesting that, to combat crime in Oakland, “good men” should form militias and carry concealed weapons.

Located on Broadway in Oakland, Temple Sinai has been the target of antisemitic graffiti on previous occasions. Mates-Muchin said she was proud of her community for not faltering in its commitment to host the mayoral forum in spite of worries about security, and for maintaining its place as part of the Oakland community.

“This is who we are,” the rabbi said. “This is where we are.”