Berkeley billboards raising awareness about antisemitism left defaced, nonprofit says

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, January 21, 2023
Berkeley billboards about antisemitism left defaced, nonprofit says
A Jewish nonprofit group says two of their billboards in Berkeley about anti-Semitism have been defaced in the span of just a couple of days.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A Jewish nonprofit group says two of their billboards in Berkeley about antisemitism have been defaced in the span of just a couple of days.

Drive along the streets of Berkeley and you might see billboards like this one. Designed in hot pink with messages designed to grab people's attention in a bid to fight back against antisemitism.

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"We have Jewish resources and education for people who just want to know a little bit more," said Archie Gottesman.

Gottesman is the co-founder of JewBelong, the nonprofit who has billboards in 22 states.

She says two of the group's billboards in Berkeley were vandalized this week after someone spray painted phrases like "Free Palestine" across them.

VIDEO: What is antisemitism? Explaining anti-Jewish ideas and hate

Antisemitism is the world's oldest hatred, dating back thousands of years, yet many don't know how it functions or what it means.

"I believe in human rights for Palestinians and human rights for Israelis, and for peace," Gottesman said.

Gottesman says the group has been in contact with the Berkeley Police Department, which is investigating the incident as a hate crime.

"It's ongoing, and they're going to try and figure out. I think they're going to be looking at cameras and things like that," she said.

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Putting the billboards aside, the most recent data from the Anti-Defamation League shows that documented reports of harassment and violence against Jews are the highest on record.

Here in the Bay Area, antisemitic flyers have popped up in cities like San Francisco, Palo Alto and Danville.

JewBelong says they remain undeterred, and plan on continuing to put up billboards here in the Bay Area and around the country.

"I'm not going to go away because there's bullies who were painting over our billboards. We're going to put them up again and come back and be strong," said Gottesman.

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