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Larger-than-life Bushwick mural shows Israeli and Palestinian children embracing

(New York Jewish Week) – Amid Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, Israeli and Palestinian boys act as symbols of a peaceful future in a new, larger-than-life mural painted this week on the side of a loft building in Bushwick.

The Israeli boy, wearing a kippah and ritual fringes, and the Palestinian boy, who wears a keffiyeh — the black-and-white headscarf often signifying Palestinian nationalism — wrap their arms around each other as they walk off into the sunset underneath the words: “Love’s resilience can rebuild bridges that the war has burned.”

The mural was intended to channel a sense of hope, as well as to shift the prevailing narratives in Bushwick, according to Michelle Mayerson, who helped organize and commission the mural.

“With this particular piece, actually, I wanted to do something about the war,” Mayerson told the New York Jewish Week. “In Bushwick, there is a Free Palestine mural of Muslim woman holding a child and it’s beautiful, tugs at the soul. But it’s one-sided, and I just felt we should have some representation — and even this representation is really not pro-Israel at all. It’s just the fact that there’s a Jewish kid in Bushwick.”

Through her company Brooklyn Street Art, Mayerson serves as a liaison between street and graffiti artists and the real estate companies or landlords who own Brooklyn’s buildings. In some of her work, the building owners approach her about finding an artist to beautify the sides of their property. Other times, the artists approach her with an idea, and she gets a building on board for them to make it into a reality.

In the case of this mural, it was neither. In the wake of the Oct. 7 attack, Mayerson had already been thinking about what a mural made in response might look like, but found it difficult to convince both artists and building owners of her vision.

“I was trying so hard to be sensitive to everyone. I only wanted to promote love and peace,” Mayerson said. “In Bushwick and in street art in general, people love to push the limits. But with this particular issue, when the idea was hatched, most artists didn’t even want to paint anything even remotely near it,” she added.

But when her friend, a Chilean street artist and muralist who goes by the name De Grupo, reached out to offer condolences and support, everything began falling into place. “I also wanted to get a mural together about the war,” De Grupo recalled.

Now all Mayerson had to do was find the right building. Most of her work is in Bushwick, the epicenter of contemporary street art and murals in New York City.

“I called every contact I had. No one wanted to give me a wall to put anything on there that was controversial,” said Mayerson, who is Jewish. She said Jewish realtors and landlords she spoke to were especially worried about vandalism and about upsetting their tenants.

Eventually, Mayerson managed to secure 40 feet of wall on the side of 49 Wyckoff Avenue, a popular canvas for street artists that often commissions art as well as advertising. Mayerson then went on to fundraise for supplies, lifts and compensation for the artists.

“The way this came together felt like the hand of God,” she said.

Mayerson, De Grupo and a third artist named Manuel Alejandro started designing what the little boys would wear. “Little boys would be wearing jerseys and in the Middle East, what’s the biggest sport? Soccer,” Mayerson said. “So we were thinking, ‘Let’s do a little cheeky little rivalry between Ronaldo and Messi.”

The group decided that the Palestinian boy would wear the blue and maroon jersey of the Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo and the Israeli boy would wear the light blue jersey of longtime Argentina star Lionel Messi, both because they are two of the most recognizable players on Earth and also because each player is popular in those respective regions, as Ronaldo currently plays for Saudi Arabia and Messi has visited Israel.

It wasn’t until the drawing was completed that Mayerson and the artists noticed the combination of the players’ jersey numbers spelled out 10/7, the day of the Hamas attack that left about 1,200 Israelis dead and the beginning of the war.

“That was just a bonus. It didn’t dawn on anybody until we finished the draft,” she said. “We didn’t plan it. It wasn’t something that we had discussed. It was just there. It was a sign of God.”

They also had one of the boys holding a beaten-up teddy bear as a sign of “what they have gone through,” Mayerson said, but they are “still pulling their little toy together and walking towards the sunset.”

“I’m very happy with the idea and the way everybody came together,” De Grupo said.

The image is reminiscent of a famous photograph taken shortly after the 1993 Oslo Accords appearing to show a Palestinian boy and an Israeli boy with their arms around each other’s shoulders that became a symbol of the era’s hope for peace. The photograph has endured and even circulated since Oct. 7 as a vision of an alternate present, one in which there can be peace — even though it was revealed a decade ago to have been staged: Both boys were Jewish.

Whether the new picture lasts as long remains to be seen. Once the group secured a spot to work and funding, they painted the mural over just four days on the weekend of New Year’s Eve. It will be up, Mayerson said, until the building secures its next advertising partnership.

Mayerson said that the mural received both positive and negative feedback when she posted it on her social media page — and she decided to delete the negative comments.

“I didn’t want it to take away from the message and from people looking at it and just seeing something that really is a beautiful picture,” she explained. “What could be bad about two boys from two different cultures and religions just playing together?”

The post Larger-than-life Bushwick mural shows Israeli and Palestinian children embracing appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Newly released documents from the Deschênes Commission show Canada’s reluctance to prosecute Nazi war criminals

The release of formerly classified documents from the 1986 Deschênes Commission—which investigated how Nazi war criminals entered Canada after the Second World War—reveals greater details about why the government was reluctant to prosecute them once they were in the country, says David Matas, the lawyer who represented B’nai Brith Canada at the inquiry. Canada released […]

The post Newly released documents from the Deschênes Commission show Canada’s reluctance to prosecute Nazi war criminals appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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South African Immigrants to Israel Protest Against Former Country Government

The International Court of Justice in The Hague in session in January 2020. Photo: Reuters/Eva Plevier.

Dozens of South African immigrants to Israel protested against their former country’s government on Friday, standing with their new home against political and legal attacks from South Africa’s ruling ANC party, highlighted by accusing Israel of “genocide,” last Thursday in the International Court of Justice (ICJ)

“The demonstration is not against South Africa or its people, but against its disgraceful government. I am proud to stand here as an Israeli, but I am ashamed of the government of my homeland, for stooping so low. It is a danger to Judaism,” said David Kaplan, an attendant of the event.

Former Knesset member Ruth Wasserman Lande, who was raised in Cape Town, South Africa before moving to Israel for military service, living in Israel since, added “Justice is with us, the ruling party of South Africa has sold its soul to Iran.”

The protest in Ra’anana in central Israel comes a few weeks after Israel was forced to stand trial at the International Court of Justice in The Hague against charges of “genocide” in its current defensive war against Hamas in Gaza. The charges were filed by South Africa’s government, a noted friend of Hamas leadership and outspoken critic of Israel and the Israeli government.

In South Africa’s case against Israel, the country alleges that the IDF is acting “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.”

The suit came as both countries are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, passed after the Holocaust and with the goal of creating proceedings to ensure no genocide like what happened to the Jews of Europe occurs in the future.

Israel said South Africa was acting as “the legal arm of Hamas,” and called the charges “baseless,” especially as the country has been noted to take unprecedented steps to protect civilians in the war. Furthermore, the war began after Israel was attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7, when they invaded southern Israel, murdering more than 1,200 and taking hostage over 240.

The ICJ refused to grant South Africa’s wish of calling for an immediate ceasefire, but nevertheless ruled to investigate the genocide charges and called on Israel to “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of [genocide].”

Even this past week South Africa continued its attacks, calling for the defunding of Israel, with Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor saying “This necessarily imposes an obligation on all states to cease funding and facilitating Israel’s military actions.”

The post South African Immigrants to Israel Protest Against Former Country Government first appeared on

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Robert Kraft Antisemitism Nonprofit to Air Super Bowl Ad Featuring Associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and team owner Robert Kraft celebrate winning Super Bowl LIII, Feb. 3, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Kevin Lamarque.

Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), a group created by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, will air its first Super Bowl commercial when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 11.

An estimated 100 million television viewers will see the commercial, which features Dr. Clarence B. Jones, a former legal adviser of civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jones, according to FCAS, helped King draft the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on Aug. 28, 1963.

“I know I can speak for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when I say without a doubt that the Civil Rights movement (including the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Acts) would not have occurred without the unwavering and largely unsung efforts of the Jewish people,” Jones said in a press release issued by FCAS. “With hate on the rise, it is as important as ever that all of us stand together and speak out. Silence is not an option. I’m glad that I’ve lived long enough to partner with Robert Kraft and FCAS to continue to spread the message to the widest possible audience — the Super Bowl.”

This year’s Super Bowl commercial mark’s FCAS’ biggest push to promote awareness of antisemitism since its founding in 2019. Last year, the nonprofit launched a $25 million multimedia campaign, which asked supporters to use the “Blue Square” emoji available on iOS devices in their social media posts.

FCAS has undertaken numerous other initiatives to address rising antisemitism.

In March 2023, it announced a partnership with Brandeis University, which will include a student fellowship program for undergraduates, conferences featuring leading experts on antisemitism, and collaborations with K-12 administrators. Additionally, Brandeis University’s Hornstein Jewish Professional Jewish Leadership Program will expand to include “Kraft Scholars,” who will participate in new online degree and certificate programs that will train them to respond to crises caused by antisemitic incidents.

Kraft, who led the remarkable transformation of the New England Patriots from a second tier club to an annual Super Bowl contender and winner of six such titles in under twenty years, founded FCAS after being awarded $1 million through Genesis Prize, an honor given to successful members of the Jewish community. FCAS focuses most of its resources on social media, aiming, it says, “to stand up against racist and violent rhetoric aimed at the Jewish people through the most accessible and most powerful avenue of information in the world.”

In a statement, Kraft, expressed hope for this latest campaign and praised Dr. Clarence Jones as an emblem of his FCAS’ highest aspirations.

“The work Dr. Jones has done over the course of his entire life and career is the embodiment of FCAS’ mission to build bridges and stand up to Jewish hate and all forms of hate. In the time we have spent together and through his work, I have become a huge fan of Dr. Jones, and I am proud to spotlight all that he has done for our nation,” he said. “With this ad, we hope to continue to spread Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of unity and equality at a time in which the country needs it mist most, and our goal is to reach a wide audience of people and inspire all Americans to stand up together, arm in arm, and fight this horrific rising hate.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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