“It’s just really been an educational experience,” said Nancy Hernandez, youth programs coordinator for HOMEY. “We want to stand in solidarity with communities that are fighting oppression, but at the same time, we don’t want to oppress anyone.”The Jewish Community Relations Council, a group representing over 80 synagogues and Jewish organizations throughout the Bay Area, opposes the mural, saying its imagery is threatening to the Jewish community.
“The image of violently breaking down a security barrier that has saved thousands of lives is exceedingly threatening to our community,” council representatives Rabbi Douglas Kahn and Cheryl Feiner wrote in a letter to the Arts Commission. “This imagery victimizes Jewish members of the Mission neighborhood for whom the security barrier has prevented the loss of lives of family and friends in Israel.”
But the JCRC’s stance has drawn criticism from other members of the Jewish community who support the mural as an expression of the Mission’s Palestinian immigrant community’s desire for self-determination.Former Mission resident Susan Greene, who created an online petition to pledge support for the mural, said she and other Jews want the mural to stay.
“Oppression and resistance are part of the shared culture and experience of immigrant and communities of color in the Mission,” Greene said in a letter to the Arts Commission. “This builds rather than divides communities.”Hernandez said because of Greene’s petition, which has 258 signatures, and support from other Jewish organizations, HOMEY has received hundreds of letters of support from throughout the country and the world.“If anything we feel like, you know, it’s a success because we have got a lot of people to start discussing the issue,” Hernandez said.
Some of the images that the JCRC objects to, including a hole in the wall shaped like the map of Israel and a Palestinian with a kaffiyeh, or patterned scarf covering his face in a manner some associate with terrorism, will be altered, Hernandez said.“We volunteered to change that section because we don’t want to advocate for any acts of war at all,” she said.
JCRC supporters say other images could be used for breaking down barriers.“Why not have a ladder going over the barrier, for instance, with Israelis and Palestinians reaching over?” asked JCRC spokesman Yitzhak Santis. “I don’t see any Israelis in that mural.”As a result of the controversy, HOMEY’s payment for the mural has been held up, pending the Art Commission’s approval. A hearing on the mural will be held Wednesday at 25 Van Ness Ave., where HOMEY will present its changes in the hopes of reaching a compromise and achieving final approval.
Source: Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural Project (ORSMP)