court sketch
court sketchReuters

A discrimination case brought by a group of young Los Angeles Jews, affiliated with a pro-Israel organization, against the Muslim owner of a prestigious resort hotel in Santa Monica began in Los Angeles Superior Court on July 26.

The plaintiffs, including more than a dozen young adults affiliated with the nonprofit Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), are claiming that Tehmina Adaya, the owner of the Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, California., discriminated against them when she abruptly ended a pool party at the hotel through the Platinum Events promotional firm, claiming it was unauthorized, the Jewish Journal reported.

In his opening statement July 26, the plaintiffs' attorney James Turken said he would make the case that Adaya became "exceedingly" angry when she learned that the Jewish group had organized the event.

The plaintiffs have charged Adaya and the hotel with multiple violations, including discrimination, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Defense attorney John Levitt, however, said that while members of FIDF's Young Leadership group thought that they had arranged for the party, no agreement had been made with the hotel's management.

Adaya, a Pakistani-born Muslim who enrolled at a school attended by many Jewish girls, allegedly yelled something to the effect of "Get these [expletive] Jews out of my pool," on the day in question.

On Monday, Scott Paletz, of the Platinum Events promotional firm and one of the suit’s plaintiffs, testified to having spoken six or seven times at the gathering with a distressed hotel employee who, he said, apologized profusely for ending the party, The New York Times reported.

However, Adaya, the employee said, insisted it be halted, and “was acting out with anti-Semitism against the group,” as Paletz recalled his words.

“It had to end, it had to end,” Mr. Paletz recalled the employee telling him. “If Ms. Adaya’s investors,” who are Muslims, found out about the pro-Israeli event, “they would cut her off,” Paletz testified being told, according to The Times.

“Being that I’m Jewish, it absolutely shocked me,” Mr. Paletz testified. “I felt really small.”

“Every case has a theme and this case is no different,” Turken told the jury, “and the theme here is: Just because you can’t believe it could happen here doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

The jury trial is expected to last two weeks.