'Bad people are taking advantage of the demonstrations'

Gina Raphael, a resident of Beverly Hills and owner of the Mickey Fine Pharmacy chain, speaks to Arutz Sheva about the riots.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff ,

Gina Raphael (center) and her family
Gina Raphael (center) and her family

Gina Raphael, who owns many businesses in Los Angeles including the Mickey Fine Pharmacy chain, summarized in a conversation with Arutz Sheva this past week which saw riots erupt throughout the US after a black man choked to death during an arrest in Minneapolis.

"It began last Saturday when [rioters] came to one of our stores and broke into it. I called the police and security to check on the situation and my husband ran between the stores in an attempt to find solutions. We brought in additional security from our other stores and as we dealt with it, we received more reports of protesters approaching other stores. We called the police again and were told to wait for the National Guard to arrive," Raphael said.

"The police said they were very busy and would send a patrol car to the area and in the meantime, we should wait for National Guard forces. Eventually they put security fences around all the stores, in addition to the private security we operate around the stores all around Beverly Hills, and ordered them closed every day at 1:00 p.m."

Raphael expressed concern about the combined effect of the riots and the coronavirus crisis. "These are businesses that were hit by the coronavirus and were only recently reopened and we were so happy to see people coming to the stores. We hoped that the economy was starting to recover and then this wave came and everything shut down again."

In her opinion, the protests in the streets and the harm to Jewish businesses and community institutions are not directly linked to anti-Semitism.

"There are protesters whose protests are certainly related to the issue, but there are many others who are simply bad people and who are taking advantage of the situation. We have seen people who deliberately throw rocks at storefronts, who loot and take everything they can get their hands on. It's not only a protest," said Raphael.

"I do not think there is any tension between the Jewish community and the black community in Los Angeles. There is concern that parts of this community are affiliated with anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. Overall, the relationship is fine. However, a restaurant called Aroma which is owned by an Israeli was completely burned and we were told it was a target for harassment and that the culprits took advantage of the riots. They said the same about anti-Israeli graffiti that was spray-painted on a synagogue. In a rare move, they removed the Torah scrolls from the synagogues to protect them, for fear the scrolls would be damaged."

"The riots and looting are taking place throughout California," Raphael added. "It's very scary to live in Los Angeles right now because we don't feel protected enough as citizens."

"We have dozens of employees and they are thirsty for income. They just want to come to work and they come from all communities and publics. They weren’t permitted to come to work and it is a little frustrating that protesters are allowed to roam freely and interrupt the return to routine which is so necessary. I feel fortunate that we can operate private security in our stores and that I am safe in my home. But during the week, we received threats that the rioters could come to our neighborhood and that is scary."

Raphael continues to try and maintain her routine as much as possible. "We are working starting from the earliest possible time that we are permitted to and will continue to provide people with the medical and pharmaceutical needs they need. We have very strong security and will pray and hope the situation improves."

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)