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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Gloria Oladipo

‘Abhorrent antisemitism’: home of Jewish director of Brooklyn Museum vandalized

red paint splattered on door entryway and windows
A home belonging to a board member of the Brooklyn Museum, vandalized with paint. Photograph: Councilman Brad Lander

Police are investigating reports of vandalism after the homes of leaders and board members of the Brooklyn Museum, including the Jewish director, were splattered with red paint early Wednesday.

In images circulating on social media, red paint is visibly splashed across the homes of director Anne Pasternak and several others affiliated with the Brooklyn Museum. Police said five homes – three in Manhattan and two in Brooklyn – were vandalized in the attack.

On one home, red triangles – likely used to symbolize Palestinian resistance – were drawn on the windows and doors. A banner was also hung in front of the house that read: “Anne Pasternak Brooklyn Museum White Supremacist Zionist”.

The phrase “Blood on your hands” was also stamped outside of the targeted homes.

The Palestinian mission to the United Nations was also vandalized, with officers finding the street covered with paint-stained pamphlets reading in part: “The Palestinian Authority does not represent the Palestinian people, long live the intifada.”

No group has claimed responsibility for the graffiti.

In a letter reportedly shared by the perpetrators after the vandalism, they said those targeted are “directly implicated in the genocide in Gaza”. In addition to Pasternak, others targeted included Neil Simpkins, a Blackstone executive who serves as treasurer for the board, and Kimberly Panicek Trueblood, a former aide to Barack Obama who is president and chief operating officer for the board.

The Brooklyn Museum said it was “deeply troubled by these horrific acts targeting leaders connected to the museum”, in a statement shared with the Guardian following Wednesday’s incident.

“For two centuries, the Brooklyn Museum has worked to foster mutual understanding through art and culture, and we have always supported peaceful protest and open, respectful dialogue. Violence, vandalism, and intimidation have no place in that discourse,” read the statement.

Pasternak told the New York Times that she was “disgusted and shaken” about the incident.

“For two centuries, the Brooklyn Museum has worked to foster mutual understanding through art and culture, and we have always supported peaceful protest and open, respectful dialogue,” she said. “Violence, vandalism, and intimidation have no place in that discourse.”

Several Democratic leaders in New York have also condemned the graffiti. The New York City mayor, Eric Adams, called the vandalism “a crime” and “overt, unacceptable antisemitism”.

“These actions will never be tolerated in New York City for any reason. I’m sorry to Anne Pasternak and members of [the Brooklyn Museum’s] board who woke up to hatred like this,” he added in a post to Twitter/X.

The New York governor, Kathy Hochul, condemned the graffiti as an “abhorrent act of antisemitism”, on X.

“We stand with the Jewish community in the face of hate and will continue to fight antisemitism wherever it rears its ugly head,” she said.

Brad Lander, the New York City comptroller,posted photos on X alongside the message: “The cowards who did this are way over the line into antisemitism, harming the cause they claim to care about, and making everyone less safe.”

The latest incident involving the museum comes after more than two dozen pro-Palestinian demonstrators occupied parts of the Brooklyn Museum on 31 May, causing it to close an hour earlier, Reuters reported. The protesters were calling on the museum to divest from Israel and other financial institutions that contribute to Israel’s war on Gaza.

Abdullah Akl, a member of the Palestinian-led organization Within Our Lifetime, said that the group and others will “continue to occupy institutions just like this one and call out individuals like the board of the Brooklyn Museum to make clear that their money and our money is being used for this genocide”, in comments to Democracy Now.

On Monday, pro-Palestinian protesters also demonstrated in front of an exhibit in lower Manhattan that memorializes those who were killed at the Nova Musical Festival during the 7 October attack by Hamas. The demonstrators who protested against the exhibit have labeled it as “propaganda”.

That demonstration has since been widely condemned as antisemitic, including by New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and representative Ritchie Torres, who dubbed the protesters “anti-Israel bigots”. Manhattan borough president Mark Levine called the demonstration “repulsive and vile”.

  • This article and its headline were amended on 13 June. A previous version incorrectly stated all the homes targeted were Jewish leaders of the museum; only the director is Jewish.

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