Agreement reached over San Francisco mural: changes to image of Israel’s wall

The San Francisco Examiner reports:

An emotional battle over a new mural in San Francisco’s Mission district that depicts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been squelched after the supporting organization had its funding stalled and agreed to alter the controversial image.

The San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the SF office of the Anti-Defamation League pressed the SF Arts Commission to change what they deemed offensive imagery in a new mural made by some 200 residents of San Francisco’s diverse Mission district under the auspices of HOMEY-Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth.

JCRC’s Abby Porth said, “The imagery took a radical position on a complex geopolitical issue that was out of touch with the international community, San Francisco and the overwhelming majority of Jews.”

HOMEY mural

In fact, a number of Jews in the Bay Area took issue with either any efforts to change the mural, or the range of objections to the mural presented by opponents, and testified to that effect at the recent Arts Commission hearing. Members of Jewish Voice for Peace also wrote in a letter to the Arts Commission:

As Jews living in San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area, we wish you to know that the complaints of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Anti-Defamation League do not reflect our views, nor do they reflect the consensus of the Jewish community in San Francisco, or in the Bay Area. We ask you not to accept the opinions of the JCRC and ADL uncritically, and ask you to listen to the concerns of others in the community, including both Jews and others, who do not share a negative interpretation of the mural.

In the end, the Examiner reports:

HOMEY and [artist] Norberg, however, have agreed to alter the images that some called divisive and hostile. The group has agreed to change the shape of the crack so it does not resemble a silhouette of Israel, add blue sky where the wall towered to reflect a brighter future, add an olive tree to symbolize peace, and remove the headscarf from the woman’s face. The Arts Commission approved the revisions Wednesday.

“Our intention was to draw parallels between the issues at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Israeli-Palestinian security barrier,” said Nancy Hernandez, youth program coordinator at HOMEY. “We consider this section … to be a statement of solidarity between the residents of the San Francisco Mission district and global movements for oppressed peoples to gain self-determination.”

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