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Two Men Sentenced to Two Years Probation Over Sushi Fumi Attack

By Aaron Badler | Jewish Journal | July 13, 2023

The two men, identified as Samer Jayylusi, 37, and Xavier Pabon, 32, had been charged with two counts of felony assault and a hate crime.

Armenian-Lebanese Christian Mher Hagopian protected the Jewish friends he was dining with at the Sushi restaurant by fighting the assailants. StandWithUs proudly honored him with the Guardian of Israel award at its 2021 Festival of Lights Gala. The audience gave him a standing ovation.

Last month two men were sentenced to two years of probation and 80 hours of bias and cultural sensitivity counseling, in addition to eight hours at the Museum of Tolerance (MOT), over the May 2021 attack at the Sushi Fumi.

The two men, identified as Samer Jayylusi, 37, and Xavier Pabon, 32, had been charged with two counts of felony assault and a hate crime; both pled no contest to the assault charges and admitted a hate crime allegation in both counts, according to local reporting. The sentencing occurred on June 14. Superior Court Judge Laura Priver said, “The court does not condone or approve of this type of behavior. The court would like to dissuade them from this type of behavior.” But Priver argued that counseling and the Museum of Tolerance were better methods to achieve that than prison. The prosecution had lobbied for a prison sentence.

The Sushi Fumi attack involved members of a pro-Palestinian caravan attacking several patrons who were eating outside of the Beverly Grove restaurant Sushi Fumi. The caravan members asked the patrons if they were Jewish before attacking them; three of the victims were Iranian Jewish men and another was an Armenian-Lebanese Christian man who tried to defend the Jewish diners.

Stop Antisemitism tweeted that the sentence was “laughable.” “We have no words,” they said.

Other Jewish groups also weighed in.

“We appreciate the District Attorney seeking a state prison sentence, and that the perpetrators have pled no contest to the hate crimes they were charged for their heinous attack,” Anti-Defamation League Los Angeles Regional Director Jeffrey I. Abrams said in a statement to the Journal. “While we hope that probation and education will help them better understand their personal biases and the Jewish community, it is simply not enough. This was a message crime directed at the Jewish community, and this sentence does not help the greater community heal. The purpose of hate crime laws is to send the message to the public that hate is not tolerated, and we do not believe that message was adequately sent with this sentence.”

StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein also said in a statement to the Journal, “We are pleased that the perpetrators will receive counseling and two years of probation, and will spend time at MOT. However, they should also have been sentenced to serve time in prison for their violent attack against the first Jew (or supporter of Israel) they could find as they roamed the streets looking to vent their frustration against Israel for defending itself from Hamas rocket terrorism. Anyone who perpetrates violence against others because of their national or religious identities, as these thugs did, are dangerous to civil society and should spend time in prison.”

American Jewish Committee Los Angeles Regional Director Richard S. Hirschhaut said in a statement to the Journal, “To a Jewish community understandably outraged by the boldness of this violent hate crime, a sentence of probation, counseling, and community service may appear unduly lenient. However, we should never underestimate the power of an immersive educational experience and encounter with Holocaust history to change lives for the better. We can only hope that Jayylusi and Pabon may come to fully appreciate the impact of their actions and ultimately lead more productive lives, free of violence and hate. A measure of restorative justice can go a long way in facilitating this outcome. Failing that, the probation process has its own benchmarks and recourse.”


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