An upscale hotel on a Santa Monica, California, beach is an odd place to be singled out from a crowd and removed because you are Jewish, but that’s what happened to 18 young professionals who are telling their story to a jury in a discrimination trial taking place in Santa Monica Superior Court this week.
Ari Ryan is the grandson of a Ukranian Jew who lost most of his family in the Holocaust and narrowly escaped death at the hands of the Nazis. Ryan’s grandfather moved to Israel in 1942 and served as a captain in the Israel Defense Forces.
Seventy years later Ryan says he got a small taste of what his grandfather lived through, but rather than in the forests of the Ukraine, it took place at an upscale hotel in Santa Monica. Ryan and more than a dozen others have brought a lawsuit alleging anti-Semitic discrimination against them by a multi-millionaire Muslim American hotel owner.
Two years ago Ryan and other twenty- and thirty-something Jews planned to raise money to send children of fallen IDF soldiers to camp with a charity event at the Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, California.
On the morning of July 11, 2010, Ryan and others arrived at the hotel and began setting up Friends of the IDF banners, literature and piles of shirts for the event guests.
But the event was aborted after, according to one employee’s sworn testimony, the hotel’s owner told staff members, “Get the [expletive deleted] Jews out of my pool.” Then the hotel security and other employees began removing the materials and ordering the guests to leave.
Ryan said, “Anyone wearing a blue wristband,” which identified them as being with the Friends of the IDF, “was asked to get out of the swimming pool and the hot tub.” In fact, no one who was identifiable as Jewish was so much as “allowed to dip their feet in the water.”