A seemingly anti-Semitic mural on the wall of a privately-owned creative space in downtown Los Angeles is causing a stir among Jewish groups, and was defaced after sparking outrage among both local and international organizations.
The image depicts a Grim Reaper-like figure wrapped in an American flag and covered in Stars of David while holding a baby’s corpse in one hand and a war rocket in its other hand. The heavy imagery also includes a snake and features a white missile nestled in the red-and-white stripes portion of “Old Glory,” in what appears to mimic a river of blood. (RELATED: Ilhan Omar Fires Back At Fellow Democrat: ‘I Should Not Be Expected To Have Allegiance’ To Israel)
The mural was painted on the wall of the Philanthropic Center for the Arts, which is also known as “The Vortex.” It bills itself as a privately-funded venture that aims to “facilitate and empower people who are working for positive social change at a grass roots level by providing a performance/event space at low cost.”
The mural first gained attention after it was posted on Facebook by Zhenya Rozinskiy last week. An image of the mural also appeared on the Stop Antisemitism Instagram account, which appears to be run by Rozinskiy. He accompanied both pictures with, “This is not Qatar. This is not Iran. This is not even Europe. This is Los Angeles, California, the United States of America.” (RELATED: Qatar May Escalate Conflict With Saudi Arabia And The UAE With Turkish Troops)
According to the Jewish Journal, “The Los Angeles artist Vyal painted the mural. He said on his Instagram page in 2018 that it was inspired by a trip he had taken ‘to Palestine some years back.'” Vyal reportedly painted it in 2011 for an art show called “vsWar.”
Several groups issued statements in response to the mural.
“We are shocked and appalled by this mural in the City of Los Angeles, in front of a community center no less,” Club Z, a platform that helps Jewish teens connect with each other, wrote on its Facebook page. “This image perpetuates the anti-Semitic beliefs that Jews secretly control the government, are the reason for war, and murder children. There is no excuse. We call for the immediate removal of this mural. Share this post to raise awareness.”
“Hey The Vortex, Is this a real thing on your building? If yes, why? It’s wildly anti-Semitic,” wrote the Progressive Zionists of the California Democratic Party. “If not, you should probably clear up the confusion. Signed, Some confused and concerned community members.”
A day after the mural was shared on Facebook, someone defaced it by splattering white paint on it and spray-painting “No Place for Hate” over it. The Stop Antisemitism Instagram also posted a picture of the defaced image.
The mural is not the first to cause a stir in Los Angeles. A historic mural on Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles was vandalized in November with several swastikas spray-painted over the faces of members of the Black Panthers, who were the subjects in the picture.
That same month, a Jewish professor at Columbia University’s office was vandalized with swastikas and anti-Semitic slurs.
In 2012, Los Angeles-based artist, Kalen Ockerman, painted a mural — titled Freedom for Humanity — on an East London wall which depicted Jewish bankers exploiting blacks. The graffiti was ordered for removal following an outpouring of complaints against its anti-Semitic undertones. (RELATED: Former Top Rabbi Warns Of New Exodus From UK Over Anti-Semitism)
Ockerman reportedly wrote on his Facebook page, “My mural is about class and privilege” and acknowledged that some of the bankers in the work were, in fact, Jewish. “The banker group is made up of Jewish and white Anglos. For some reason they are saying I am anti-Semitic. This I am most definitely not… What I am against is class,” he said.
According to the Times of Israel, “The mural was painted last month on a wall in Hanbury Street in the Brick Lane area, in what is now a largely Muslim part of East London that was once the heart of the East End Jewish community from the late-1800s until the mid-1900s.”
England’s Progressive Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn initially came out in support of Ockerman’s anti-Semitic work before issuing an apology after backlash from the public.