update deskAntisemitism

Retired Methodist pastor draws swastika on Jewish neighbor’s groceries

Video caught Mark Nakagawa defacing Leah Grossman’s box of seltzer, an act he explained away as teaching her that the symbol is a peaceful one.

A retired pastor in California drew a swastika on the seltzer box of a neighbor, a Jewish mother of two, on Dec. 5, 2023. Source: Screenshot.
A retired pastor in California drew a swastika on the seltzer box of a neighbor, a Jewish mother of two, on Dec. 5, 2023. Source: Screenshot.

A former senior leader for the United Methodist Church in California has shifted from sermons to swastika vandalism as his method of choice for providing religious instruction, targeting a Jewish neighbor who he previously called a “fascist” for her display of an Israeli flag on her balcony.

On Dec. 5 at 10:15 p.m., Leah Grossman caught via a doorbell camera her neighbor Mark Nakagawa, a recently retired pastor, drawing a swastika with a black pen onto a 12-pack cardboard box filled with seltzer that was delivered to her door.

“I just fell to pieces. Like I’ve never shook like that before. My toes were shaking,” Grossman, a single mother of two sons who lives in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, told her local CBS News station. “I get emotional thinking about it because it reminds me of all the people I know, my family, my children.”

Grossman initially confronted Nakagawa in the act, during which he denied everything.

Only later, when shown the video evidence, did he attempt to rationalize his actions, claiming that he intended to teach his neighbor that the symbol—originating in Buddhism and Hinduism—meant peace.

“The way I went about it, in hindsight, the way I went about it was not the right way to go about it,” said Nakagawa. It was bad judgment on my part. I realize that.”

Grossman told CBS that Nakagawa had apologized to her but she rejected it. “I know in my heart of hearts that it’s completely self-serving, has nothing to do with any kind of contrition as far as what was done to me, what was done to my children,” she said.

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