Anti-Semitism in Venice? The place were thousands of survivors of concentration camps sought refugee after World War II? The home of hundreds more retired garment workers from New York City?
Eric Mankin, a Venice North Beach resident, has undertaken a one-person campaign to ensure that it doesn’t happen here.
It all began for Mankin on July 3, in the early evening, when he went out for a walk on the boardwalk with his dogs. One dog got off the leash and ran into Unruly, the lingerie/provocative clothing store at 511 Ocean Front Walk.
Unruly is next to a synagogue, the Pacific Jewish Center, near Paloma Avenue on Ocean Front Walk.
Mankin said he spoke to a woman working in the store in the process of getting the dog out. He says he casually mentioned, in what he thought was a humorous way, that it was unusual to have a sex clothing shop next to a synagogue. Mankin said that rather than being appalled, that it is something he’s always regarded as a symbol of Venice’s inclusiveness and diversity, and has often pointed this out to visiting friends.
Next the owner of the shop, Ruly Papadopulos, walked up, and, according to Mankin, immediately asked him if he was Jewish. Mankin acknowledged that he was, though non-observant. Papadopulos responded that he said he hated all Jews.
Shocked, Mankin said, “Excuse me??” He said Papadopulos repeated, “ I hate Jews” and then repeated it again.
At this, Mankin said he was starting to get angry. Their faces got close together. Mankin says the woman from the store then sprayed him with pepper spray.
Since then, Mankin has been in front of the shop with a sign (see photo to the right).
One July afternoon, Mankin was joined by three Venetians bearing signs. Papadopulas called the LAPD who after consulting with all concerned told the picketers that they were within their rights as long as they didn’t block the entrance.
Occasionally, a customer would stroll into the shop and ask what was going on. One customer admitted to Mankin that Papadopulas had told him, “The Jews think they own the world.” This is classic anti-semitism. It exists only in the minds of those ruled by hatred and separatism.
Mankin’s story even landed in the New York Times on July 20. Go to: www.nytimes.com – search for “Eric Mankin.”