The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has largely remained a distant battle removed from our everyday lives.
But the seemingly intractable strife this week came to Los Angeles' Westside in a small but declarative way.
Someone vandalized a mural on the SoCal Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring building in L.A.'s most Jewish of neighborhoods, Pico-Robertson. “Free Palestine!!!!” was spray painted on the artwork:.
The graffiti was discovered yesterday, said Eric Gordon, director emeritus of Workmen's Circle, which is described as a “progressive-liberal organization committed to advancing democratic frontiers, eliminating poverty, strengthening civil rights, promoting universal health care and opposing bigotry, tyranny and totalitarianism.”
Gordon said he was at the facilities at 1525 S. Robertson Blvd. Wednesday, leading him to believe it happened overnight or early yesterday. News of the defaced mural was first reported by the Jewish Journal.
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Gordon thinks the vandal chose the wrong target.
Workmen's Circle has supported a so-called two-state solution that would give Palestine statehood alongside Israel, a stance that's held by the Obama administration and even Israel itself (insincerely so, according to some critics).
It's not a radical stance, but Workmen's Cicle has pushed for peace.
“We're for a 'Free Palestine' too,” Gordon told us. “But what that slogan probably means is to eliminate Israel completely. That's the kind of slogan people would raise if that's the belief they have.”
Robert Adler-Peckerar, executive director of a group, Yiddishkayt, that often collaborates with Workmen's Circle, said the mural, with its Yiddish and Hebrew messages, is about “a struggle for a more beautiful and better world.”
The mural contains the Hebrew biblical quote, “Justice justice shalt thou pursue.”
“There's a certain amount of irony,” Adler-Peckerar told us. “The Workmen's Circle has specifically been advocating for progress and fairness and justice in the world. Painting all organizations associated with Jews with one particular brush shows a real lack of cultural knowledge.”
The mural was originally coated with anti-graffiti protection, Golden said, but it will still be “a process to remove,” he said.
That, no doubt, is the next move for Workmen's Circle.
[Update at 1:38 p.m.]: The “Free Palestine!!!!” message was remixed by another vandal or, as the Jewish Journal put it, the mural was defaced by “countergraffiti.”
We snapped a photo: