Up against the wall - Page 2

Amid controversy, HOMEY brings together a Mission neighborhood with its latest mural

"It didn't demonstrate peaceful coexistence, which is, frankly, contrary to the theme of the work."

Rather than battle it out and fling loaded accusations of censorship and anti-Zionism at each other — which would indeed completely contradict the intent of the community-building project — the two factions engaged in a civil dialogue that turned out to be a learning experience for all. HOMEY agreed to make some changes to the imagery: the kaffiyeh shrouding one figure's face, which the JCRC and the ADL claimed connoted terrorism, is now pulled back and worn as a simple Muslim head scarf; the wall opening now breaks into an expansive blue sky; and the branches of an olive tree now weave around the wall — a symbol of peace and a near-literal olive branch. Still, according to Porth, "It's not the imagery that we would choose, but we recognize the muralists made significant changes and that they came far from the original design."

Hernandez is quick to point out that many Jewish San Franciscans supported the original design and that several of the artists are in fact Jewish. But she acknowledges that "when we're painting somebody else's culture, we have to be humble. We have to say, 'You know what? We don't know everything about everybody, but we do know about ourselves, and we're trying to draw parallels between ourselves and other peoples.'<0x2009>"

To many, it may come as a surprise that the mural's Palestinian imagery was so controversial. After all, claiming solidarity with Palestine is a common stance among San Francisco's radical left. Nonetheless, by giving their input, the mural's detractors wound up being collaborators on a project authored by, as it turned out, truly disparate voices in the community.


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