A Jewish family says a “guardian angel” gun owner saved them from pro-Palestinian agitators in Florida on Thursday.
Eric Orgen told WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach that he was walking with his wife and teenage daughter in Bal Harbour between synagogue services when a group of men drove by and started shouting at them.
“They just started screaming some derogatory things towards Jewish people out the window,” Orgen said.
He said the insults included “Die Jew,” “F you Jew” and “I’m gonna rape your wife,” and the group also shouted “Free Palestine.”
The agitators threw garbage at the family as well, Orgen said.
“My first thought was just making sure my wife and daughter were behind me so I could take the brunt of anything that was going to happen,” he said.
Orgen told WPEC that he was concerned the agitators were going to get out of their car and attack his family before a stranger intervened.
“The guy in the car behind them saw everything go on,” he said.
“I saw him pull a gun and get in between — I mean, he was almost there as our guardian angel just protecting us. I think once they saw him they just took off.”
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The Bal Harbour Police are investigating the incident, which is just one of many anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred in South Florida amid the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
“We are witnessing an increase in anti-Jewish hate that is ever more dangerous and violent,” Yael Hershfield, interim regional director of Anti-Defamation League Florida, told WPEC.
Last week, people in a van covered in anti-Semitic graffiti drove through a pro-Israel demonstration in Boca Raton and shouted slurs at the crowd.
“The purpose of these attacks is clear. It’s to put fear into the Jewish community’s hearts, and to the perpetrators of this attack, they must know that they will fail,” Bal Harbour Mayor Gabriel Groisman told WPEC.
“We’re a strong community and a proud community and we stand strong with Israel, and no amount of attacks or intimidation is going to work,” he said.
Florida is not the only state that has dealt with recent hate crimes.
Los Angeles police are investigating a separate incident caught on video in which an Orthodox Jewish man was chased by a caravan of people waving Palestinian flags in the Fairfax District on Monday night, KCBS-TV reported.
The man escaped, and no one was injured during the chase.