An unknown person or persons scrawled “Racist Pigz,” “Zionist Pigz” and “Free Palestine” on Manny’s cafe at 16th and Valencia over the weekend on the outer wall along Valencia Street. It was the second incident in the past month of a Jewish-owned business being vandalized.
A photo of the graffiti at the popular restaurant, political bookstore and civic engagement hub on the corner of 16th Street was Tweeted Sunday morning, but it was no longer on the building on Monday. Cafe proprietor Manny Yekutiel did not respond to a request for comment. His spokesman, David Perry, also declined to comment on the graffiti. A request for information with the San Francisco Police Department yielded no additional information on the incident.
Manny’s was the target of protests when it opened in 2018, after the owner, Manny Yekutiel, showed support for the existence of Israel in a Facebook post in 2017. It was also vandalized by graffiti last September, SFist reported.
“If you want to get out in the street and put out signs that say you don’t like Israel, that’s not antisemitism. If you want to get out in the street and put out signs and put something out in support of Palestinians, that’s not antisemitism. Criticizing Israel, even harshly, is not antisemitism,” said Seth Brysk, the Central Pacific regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “But targeting a Jewish person, their business, a Jewish community institution, in essence you are holding a community collectively responsible for a sovereign government.”
The incident occurred less than a month after the Chabad preschool in Noe Valley was vandalized with graffiti that read, “Israil terror” (sic) and, “Death to Israil” (sic). Both incidents occurred during reports of a rise in antisemitic incidents nationally and locally following Hamas rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes this spring that killed at least 256 Palestinians, 13 Israelis and dispossessed nearly 60,000 Palestinians in Gaza.
From the beginning of the year to June 4, the SFPD counted four hate crimes against Jews citywide, the same as the total number of hate crimes against Jews in all of 2020.
And, in the Bay Area, the regional branch of the Anti-Defamation League has anecdotally seen a rise in antisemitic incidents of around 75 percent — the rise the league has seen nationally from reports by community members, law enforcement and the media, Brysk said.
The league counts harassment, vandalism and assaults against Jews as antisemitic hate incidents, Brysk explained.
While some activists have questioned the numbers on the ADL tracker because it has included signs held at protests, Marc Dollinger, a Jewish Studies professor who teaches a course on antisemitism and social justice at San Francisco State University, said that identifying what’s antisemitism is complicated, and the ADL offers the best tracker available.
Also, he said, how exactly incidents are converted to statistics shouldn’t be the takeaway amid the recent incidents. The focus, he said, should be the clear spike happening now.
What happened at Manny’s and Chabad were two such instances, he and other Jewish scholars said.
“There’s a lot of different arguments on when anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism, but when you scrawl graffiti on Manny’s, you’re not getting into the sophistication of what the differences may be,” Dollinger said. “In this case, it’s crystal clear because they wrote, ‘pigs,’ and pig is un-kosher, according to Judaism. To call someone a Zionist pig is to play on their Jewishness in direct relationship to their Zionism.”
He added that the rise in antisemitic incidents has been scary.
“The idea that there can be so much anti-Jewish speech, and just under the surface — we saw the Chabad one, the Manny’s one, New York City — and the fact that this can be provoked in a place that we would think is ostensibly safe is really disheartening,” Dollinger said.