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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Palestinian symbol defaced in multicultural mural

Following the series of hate crimes that occurred last spring, another act of vandalism was recently committed on the walls of the Third World Mural, located at the Memorial Union.

The Star of David, a recognized symbol of Judaism, was painted inside the Palestinian-depicted red, white and green dove. The dove makes up only a part of the multicultural mural, which represents various minorities on campus including Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans and Arab Americans.

Many students expressed concern about the defaced image, asserting that the implications of the crime are far more profound than the act itself.

“It is not just a defacement of the multicultural mural, but it directly attacks minorities and is a threatening message to Palestinian students,” said Secretary of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Dina Wahbe.

Wahbe asserted that Israeli settlers who invade Palestinian homes and villages in the West Bank today – the center of the Israeli occupation – often use a Star of David to express anti-Arab sentiments.

SJP held a rally at the Memorial Union on Sept. 29 to condemn the crime and were joined by other student groups including the Chicana/o student organization MEChA, the Muslim Student Association, Pakistani Student Association and the Asian American Christian group. The groups united on their stance against the act of vandalism, and expressed their support for those affected by it.

Speakers at the rally continually emphasized the ability of the defaced image to target both Palestinians and Jews in very different ways.

“The Star of David is indeed a symbol representing Judaism, but does not necessarily represent a Zionist, pro-Israeli stance for everyone,” said Ahmed Desouki, a member of SJP. “The graffitied image, therefore, conflates Judaism with the state of Israel, and is potentially harmful for those who do not believe in or are committed to both.”

Allison Hargreaves, senior neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, is of Jewish background and expressed sorrow over the vandalized image and its potential affect on Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

“It is really disheartening to have an anonymous message that could be viewed as an attack, especially on a campus which promotes diversity and the representation of all cultures,” Hargreaves said. “Many Jewish and pro-Israeli students would like to engage in a calm and peaceful dialogue, but incidents like this make it difficult to do so.”

David Turkell, junior international relations major, is also of Jewish background and expressed similar sentiments regarding the defaced image.

“Vandalism is rough and there is no excuse for it,” Turkell said. “I think we should take it to more of an interfaith dialogue between those who believe in the state of Israel and pro-Palestinians. We’re all Aggies and we can definitely have a clear setting [for this].”

Campus officials responded to the incident by sending a memo to the campus community, which stated that they would not allow these assaults to go unchallenged.

The campus will promote the Hate-Free Campus Initiative during the Student Activities Fair Oct. 13 in response to the vandalism, Associate Executive Vice Chancellor Rahim Reed and Assistant Vice Chancellor Griselda Castro said in the memo.

Chancellor Linda Katehi launched the “hate-free” initiative last March after the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center was vandalized and half a dozen swastikas were spray-painted and carved around campus.

SJP members will meet with the director of the Cross Cultural Center today to discuss their next steps of action in dealing with this issue.

NOURA KHOURY can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


  1. Sana: The Star of David is an ancient symbol, referenced in the Bible. It involves the protection of G-d. It is the symbol of Israel’s ambulance corps. Does it represents love of Israel and Zionism? I certainly hope so. Zionism is Jewish self-determination. The Jews have lived in this land and loved this land for thousands of years. To love Israel and to believe in the Jewish right of self determination is the essence of Zionism.

    Time magazine was correct to some extent. The easing of the reign of terror of the second intifada has had enormous impact on both the Israelis and the Palestinians. The economy of the West bank has enjoyed 9 % growth according to Bloomberg reports.

    An article by Peter Hitchens published just yesterday describes life for the Palestinians. Hardly “dying of oppression”


    “It is lunchtime in the world’s biggest prison camp, and I am enjoying a rather good caffe latte in an elegant beachfront cafe. Later I will visit the sparkling new Gaza Mall, and then eat an excellent beef stroganoff in an elegant restaurant.

    Perhaps it is callous of me to be so self-indulgent, but I think I at least deserve the coffee. I would be having a stiff drink instead, if only the ultra-Islamic regime hadn’t banned alcohol with a harsh and heavy hand. ”

    He continues:

    “Even when, as in Gaza, there is no way out and morality patrols sweep through restaurants in search of illicit beer and women smoking in public or otherwise affronting the 14th Century values of Hamas.

    So I won’t give the name of the rather pleasant establishment where young women, Islamic butterflies mocking the fanatics’ strict dress code with bright make-up and colourful silken hijabs, chattered as they inhaled apple-scented smoke from their water-pipes.

    Their menfolk, nearby, watched football on huge, flat-screen televisions. Nor will I say where I saw the Gazan young gathering for beach barbecues beneath palm-leaf umbrellas.

    Of course this way of life isn’t typical. But it exists, and it shows the ‘prison camp’ designation is a brain-dead over-simplification. If it is wrong for the rich to live next door to the desperate – and we often assume this when wecriticise Israel – then what about Gaza’s wealthy, and its Hamas rulers?”

    Grafitti is ugly and wrong, but so is the vitriolic hyperbole characterizing this as a “hate crime”.

    Maybe its a cry for more interfaith dialog. As a Jew and a proud, unapologetic Zionist, I find it dismaying how little the commentors on this thread know about the history of my land and my people. Maybe we should take this as an opportunity to learn more about each other.

  2. Mr. Reynolds, Ahmed Desouki’s connection was the TRUTH! The Star of David no longer represents just Judaism, or the oppression of the Jews in the holocaust, it represents Israel and its ideology: Zionism. Jewish self-determination was the initial definition, but when this is followed by oppression of the Palestinians, it no longer a symbol for love. And I think that your facts are outdated because a recent article written in the Times Magazine found that Israelis are enjoying a wonderful, peaceful, quiet life and could care less about the Palestinians dying of oppression and economic hardships on the other side of the wall.

  3. Ahmed Desouki’s statement belittling the connection of Judaism with the state of Israel is rather misguided and iil-informed . Zionism is Jewish self determination. It is the belief that the Jewish people have the right to self determination in their ancient homeland. You can be a Zionist and still support Palestinian self determination. You can be a Zionist and not support the actions of any particular Israeli government.

    At its core, Zionism is love of Zion- and thats why so many Zionists aren’t even Jewish. Israel, Zion, is a beautiful country. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect her right to exist, its territorial integrity and the right to use whatever sea lanes it needs. Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality.”

  4. The six pointed star called the “Magen David” or “Shield of David” is an ancient Jewish symbol representing divine protection. As to who painted it, why,or what they meant by it, I would suggest withholding judgemment until we know more facts. It is a natural human tendency to leap to conclusions, but until we know more, we also can’t rule out the possibility that it was a publicity stunt intended to draw attention to the mural. Lets find out more before we blame any one.

  5. I agree with Raul D. Considering that Jews make up .03% of the world’s population, doesn’t that make them, by the definition of the word, a minority? Why weren’t they included in the mural? And look at the differences from this act and when the Jewish sukkah was vandalized with “Free Palestine” in 2008. When that happened, did Muslim students speak out against it? Did administration official speak out against it? Did Jewish students hold a rally? Did other student groups show solidarity with the Jewish students? The answer to all of the above, is no.

  6. After all the hate from the last few years, including graffitti directed towards the Jewish hut, this article seems like it’s over reacted a bit. It’s wrong to deface a mural, and disrespectful, but this particular act seems almost like it’s endorsing co existance, or two people together. it almost seems sweet to me.

    It’s just somehow different from the hate we’ve seen on campus over the past few years

  7. As a Jew, I am saddened that someone (perhaps, a Jew) has defaced this mural. But, if it is a “multicultural mural, which represents various minorities on campus,” I also wonder why Jews weren’t invited to be part of the mural in the first place.


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