From Forward Jewish Independent non-profit – By Adam Yosef
“Jewish and Muslim women join forces to remove antisemitic graffiti in Birmingham, England
The rainbow of peace painted on the wall after the racist graffiti was removed. Image by Benita Wishart/IAB
A group of Jewish and Muslim women, including the city’s only female rabbi, have defiantly come together to remove antisemitic graffiti which appeared overnight on a wall in Billesley in Birmingham, transforming it into positive art depicting a rainbow.
Determined to show they’re “stronger together,” the women joined forces after vile and abusive words of hate targeting the Jewish community were discovered daubed on a brick wall in the city ward, located in the Selly Oak constituency.
Muslim and Jewish women including rabbi Margaret Jacobi (right) and Benita Wishart (second right) join PC Adrian Griffiths from West Midlands Police at the scene of the antisemitic vandalism. Image by Benita Wishart/IAB
Upon discovering the words ‘Die Jewish’ had been spray-painted onto the wall, local resident Benita Wishart contacted several other women from across the city and organized the removal of the offensive vandalism, opting to replace it with messages of peace alongside a brightly colored rainbow.
Where the message of hate had been left, it now reads: ‘Standing Together Against Hate – Jewish and Muslim women together.’
Before letting their creativity flow, the women got in touch with West Midlands Police who helped them remove the graffiti and praised their collaborative effort to make good of a bad situation.
Wishart, who called on close friends from different faiths to help, said they decided to counter hate with messages of hope.
‘This is our message to those who seek to divide us. This is what being an ally looks like.’
We stand together in Birmingham. Hate crime has no place in our city. Our citizens value diversity and stand side by side.
There must be zero tolerance of such hate against any group.’
The rainbow and messages of peace painted on the wall after the racist graffiti was removed Wishart thanked local police and residents for their assistance and the local community groups who came together to clean-up the racist graffiti.
Birmingham’s only female rabbi, Margaret Jacobi, was also on the scene to help do her bit. Heading the congregation at the city’s Progressive Synagogue since 1994, Jacobi is an active member of several initiatives promoting community cohesion and peace.
Among them Citizens UK, an independent membership alliance of civil society institutions acting together for the common good of the city, and Nisa-Nisham, a national Jewish and Muslim Women’s Network set up to ‘build personal friendships’ between faiths.
Many of the women who helped remove the sickening graffiti are members of these organizations, which helped them facilitate the speedy and effective response.
The original graffiti read, “DIE JEWISH” Image by Benita Wishart/IAB
A spokesperson for the Birmingham branch of Citizens UK tweeted, ‘We are outraged and saddened by this act of hate’ but praised the community response as ‘a powerful show of solidarity.’
Alongside the rainbow and positive messages, the women – from all faiths and none – also posed for photos, holding up posters stating ‘Active Allies’, ‘Standing Together’ and ‘We’re All Neighbours'”
I suspect for the police involved, it was a really good day.