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Chris Gazaleh’s Art Is Not Antisemitic

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I remember the first time I met Chris at his art studio in Hunters Point back in 2022. I was hanging out with the artist behind Ricky Rat and decided to ride along with him as he was picking up art supplies in San Francisco. Our first stop was Mothbelly Gallery in the Tenderloin and then we headed to HP to connect with Chris. 

If you’re not familiar with Chris personally, chances are you’ve seen his art. You know that beautiful mural when you get off the freeway heading into Hayes Valley, showing Palestinians climbing over the apartheid wall, that’s his work. 

Chris is Palestinian-American and his family was pushed out of Palestine. When Ricky Rat introduced me to Chris, he mentioned I was part Jewish, partially as a joke to create some awkward tension, but when he did, there was no resentment in Chris’s eyes or change in his demeanor. 

However, the joke opened the door for a conversation about Palestine and the Palestinian plight. 

We talked for roughly an hour about what happened in 1948 and the years after when Palestinians were forced from their homes at gunpoint to make way for the State of Israel. We also talked about Bay Area rap and other random shit, but when he spoke about Palestine, it wasn’t out of some irrational hatred for Jews, it was based on the pain of seeing his people persecuted and killed. 

As stated earlier, this conversation didn’t happen after October 7th, I met him in 2022, and prior to the October 7th attack or the ongoing genocide in Gaza, Palestinians were being routinely killed and brutalized at the hands of the IDF. 

As the indiscriminate bombing on Gaza began, Chris put his frustration into his art. And since then, he has had many of his murals defaced and vandalized for no reason other than the fact that his work is showcasing the Palestinian perspective. 

Recently one of Chris’s murals made the news. The mural in Noe Valley features picket signs sticking out of rubble with information about how much of Gaza has been destroyed and how many people have been killed as a result of Israel’s bombing campaign. The mural reads “Stop the genocide in Gaza now!” in large letters with a bomb that says “made in the USA” in the colors of the Israeli flag with a dollar sign replacing the Star of David. 

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The main criticism is that the mural is antisemitic and that children have to see it. 

Here’s how I see it: The Israeli flag features the Star of David, that is the flag of the nation bombing Palestinian civilians. The bombs are being funded by American taxpayers and many of the bombs are also being assembled in the United States. 

The image isn’t an attack against Jews, nor is it feeding into antisemitic conspiracies. The imagery is meant to spread awareness of the fact that the United States is enabling the slaughter of Palestinians by providing money and munitions to the IDF. 

I understand that the mural isn’t the most family-friendly thing on the planet, but imagine what the children in Gaza see on an everyday basis. I guarantee you that they wish they had the luxury to find a mural offensive. 

Imagine how you would feel if you were Chris, or any other Arab American right now? What if the children with their faces blown off were your family? What if falling concrete dislodged the  eyeballs out of your child’s skull. Imagine Hind Rajab, sitting helplessly in that car, watching her family get murdered by the IDF, only to be killed minutes later after calling an ambulance.

Chris’s murals aren’t saying the attacks on October 7th weren’t horrific, they were. Civilians being killed is never something to celebrate. Pro Palestinian resistance art isn’t anti-Jewish, and many Jews support the Palestinian cause. To conflate the two is to rob the message of its inherent nuance. The murals display the hopes and dreams of people who just want to live life without a boot on their necks. 

Next time you go to complain about Palestinians expressing themselves, think about what they’re going through, and reflect on how lucky you are to be privileged enough to live in San Francisco – a world away from the Hell on earth our government is allowing to exist for children who are just as innocent as your own. And then don’t complain because maybe, just maybe Chris isn’t an antisemite, maybe you’re just being a privileged asshole.  

And maybe you should stop being one. Also give Chris a follow, he’s talented and he’s doing important work that should be seen.

Eric Andre said it best: 






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Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff is an Oakland-based writer, editor and digital content creator known for Bay Area Memes, a local meme page that has amassed nearly 200k followers. His work has appeared in SFGATE, The Bold Italic and of course, His book of short stories, personal essays and poetry entitled Don't Drown on Dry Ground is available now!