CITY HALL — A Jewish organization that planned to protest outside a local hotel called off its demonstration after the owner of Hotel Shangri-La pledged over $7,000 to benefit Jewish charities.
The Zionist Organization of America announced its intention to protest in front of the hotel last week in order to spread the word about a verdict that found the hotel’s owner, Tehmina Adaya, had discriminated against a charity called Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces in 2010.
Adaya’s move to donate $3,600 each to the Koby Mandell Foundation and the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization produced a “tangible and meaningful benefit” for the Jewish community, said Steven Goldberg, the national vice chairman of the Zionist Organization of America and chair of the Los Angeles region chapter.
The Koby Mandell Foundation supports those who have lost loved ones to terrorism, and the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization helps Israeli disabled veterans reintegrate into society through sports and rehabilitation centers.
“To get a tangible benefit like that to people I think is significant enough to end the protest,” Goldberg said, although he pointed out that his group is not the only organization out there that was angered by the actions leading up to the court case.
The amounts donated are also a nod to Jewish culture. Multiples of 18 are symbolic to the Jewish people because it references the word “chai,” which translates to “life.”
In a letter released Friday announcing the donation, Adaya also invited leaders of the Jewish and pro-Israel community to attend a private event, hosted by the hotel and organized by the Zionist Organization of America.
She said that she was “eager” to improve relations with the Jewish community in the wake of the jury’s decision.
“I care deeply about the hurt, anger and misunderstanding that has resulted and I want the Jewish and pro-Israel community to know I condemn anti-Semitism,” Adaya said. “I welcome diversity and never made disparaging comments to anyone who attended an event here.”
Earlier this month, a jury found Adaya guilty of making disparaging and anti-Semitic comments against 19 members of the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces who attended an event at the Hotel Shangri-La on July 11, 2010.
According to the complaint filed against her, Adaya instructed her employees to make sure the group removed its banners, brochures and other materials that were set up and get them out of the hotel’s pool.
The jury awarded the plaintiffs $1.2 million in statutory damages on Aug. 15.
The hotel owner announced her intention to appeal the decision, alleging that the original complaint was mostly based off of false information given by a disgruntled former employee who never appeared in court to testify.
Instead, attorneys read Nathan Codrey’s deposition aloud. In it, Codrey alleged that Adaya had used profanity in referencing members of the FIDF that were using her hotel’s amenities.
Hotel officials now say that the problem was caused by a third-party food and beverage operator that did not provide contracts for the party to the hotel leadership.
Since, the hotel’s food and beverage operations have been handled in-house.
Attorney Jim Turken, who represented the plaintiffs in the case, was unimpressed with the argument.
“The problem with the spin they’re trying to put on everything now is something called ‘reality,'” Turken said.
The jury found that the group had been discriminated against, and had tossed out the argument regarding “shoddy” business practices, Turken said.
“In my opinion, they have a (public relations) disaster on their hands,” he said.