Like the rest of the world, Hollywood is rattled and on high alert following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that killed at least 1,400 people and saw the abduction of hundreds of hostages into Gaza. In its wake, attention has turned to beefing up security among Hollywood’s Jewish community.
“We’ve had a sharp increase in requests from our Jewish clients,” says Kenneth Bombace of Global Threat Solutions, which services billionaires, stars and Fortune 500 corporations. “They’re afraid they could be a target.”
The crisis comes amid a backdrop of already heightened antisemitism — both worldwide and within L.A. The Anti-Defamation League released a study in March that found recorded incidents of anti-Jewish hate in L.A. had increased 30 percent in 2022 over the previous year. (In total, there were 237 such incidents in the L.A. area, including 143 of harassment; 86 of vandalism of businesses, synagogues and schools; and eight incidents of assault.) Kanye West’s string of anti-Jewish pronouncements were cited in the report as contributing to growing antisemitic fervor nationally.
But all of that came before the Israel-Hamas war, which has increased anti-Jewish hostilities exponentially. According to a preliminary analysis, in the two weeks since Oct. 7, the ADL Center on Extremism recorded a total of 193 antisemitic incidents in the U.S., 77 of which were directly linked to the war in Israel and Gaza. ADL also has tracked more than 400 anti-Israel rallies countrywide in the U.S. during that time, 109 of which featured explicit or strong implicit support for Hamas or for violence against Jews in Israel.
“With the ongoing surge in antisemitic incidents both around the world and here in the U.S., we’re not surprised that some in the entertainment industry are concerned about people’s safety and are taking steps to increase their own security,” says ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “Historically, we have seen a rise in antisemitic acts of harassment, vandalism and violence whenever there’s a rise in hostilities between Hamas and Israel, and that’s exactly what we are seeing playing out now.”
L.A. synagogues have requested increased security, as have Jewish events like weddings and bar mitzvahs held around town — with anywhere from one to five armed guards hired per event. “It gives them peace of mind,” says Bombace, who adds that requests have poured in from wealthy and non-wealthy clients alike. “It’s an investment they feel is worth it.”
The security measures are not limited to the private sector. The events of Oct. 7 led to heightened police presence around Jewish institutions in L.A., Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. “In those areas where we serve both our Jewish and Muslim communities, we will be conducting extra patrol to ensure the safety of all,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore wrote on X.
Clients also are rethinking nonessential travel plans, with one high-profile Jewish exec canceling a trip to Paris following the attacks. “Obviously they’re scared,” says Kent Moyer, president of World Protection Group. Not only are Jewish clients asking for more guards, they’re requesting them armed and to be available for “graveyard shifts.” The surge in demand has resulted in a shortage of trained security in the L.A. area. “We’ve been on a hiring rampage,” says Moyer, whose private security firm has added six highly trained bodyguards since the Oct. 7 attacks.
Threat monitoring also is popular as unrest intensifies globally in response to the Israel-Hamas war. “We provide detailed reporting on protests that could potentially turn violent — and where they are in relation to where our clients’ offices are,” says Bombace, who provides real-time “geofencing” data that alerts clients “to an assault, to shootings, even hostile social media posts” in the vicinity. Says Moyer: “I just sent an alert out to all our clients that there’s a Palestinian protest on Saturday down in Pershing Square. I’ve also advised them that [U.S. and Israeli] embassies and consulates around the world, and mainly in the Middle East, are the sites of massive protests.”
Corporations also are requesting help in bringing employees back from the war zone, says Bombace. “We have former special operations personnel that have that skill,” he says, noting that his firm recently facilitated evacuations from Ukraine. “Sometimes you might be forced to use ground transportation rather than fly. But there are ways to do it.”
While Israeli military types have become an archetype popularized on shows like Netflix’s Fauda and Apple TV+’s Tehran, the idea that Hollywood clients are seeking “ex-Mossad” security guards may be a misnomer. “Mossad is not security,” Bombace says. “It’s their intelligence people. My old boss used to say he was Mossad. He basically lied because he was an airport security guard when he left Israel.” (Shin Bet, or the Israel Security Agency, is Israel’s agency tasked with counterterrorism.) As for the former IDF soldier who went viral protecting Taylor Swift on her Eras Tour, “his head was all over the place looking like the bogeyman’s around every corner,” Moyer says, noting his firm takes a different approach.
Bombace says he would “never recommend” that an individual go out and buy a gun, but if a client “wanted to obtain a weapon, we could assist [in training them].” Moyer, however — whose client list includes 11 billionaires, multiple celebrities and an NFL team — is less restrained in his assessment: “In 30 years of doing this, I’ve never recommended clients get a gun. But I do now, 100 percent.” At the bare minimum, he says, “All elderly people and women should carry pepper spray.
“I just think this is going to get worse,” he adds. “The situation is escalating.”
This story first appeared in the Oct. 25 issue of The Music news magazine. Click here to subscribe.