Graffiti raises concerns from Jewish community

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Graffiti painted on a building in downtown Grand Junction of a Palestinian flag with the words “from the river to the sea” has raised concerns and fears among the local Jewish community.

Jody Crider, a Grand Junction resident and concerned citizen, said she was told about the graffiti by a member of the local Jewish community. She went down to see it herself and said she was appalled by what she saw.

“It spread around the (local) Jewish community including the synagogues,” Crider said. “People are incredibly disturbed. It’s very antisemetic.”

The phrase “from the river to the sea” has become a popular one among pro-Palestinian protesters and was adopted by Hamas, the military and political organization that controls Gaza and has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Hamas launched a terrorist attack on Israel in October of last year that killed at least 1,200 people in Israel, according to the Associated Press. Israel has responded with an invasion of Gaza that has killed an estimated 25,000 people.

The history of the phrase is complicated, according to an Associated Press report. It has been used by both pro-Palestinian groups, including militant and terrorist groups, as well as a part of the original platform of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, Likud.

“Many Palestinian activists say it’s a call for peace and equality after 75 years of Israeli statehood and decades-long, open-ended Israeli military rule over millions of Palestinians,” The Associated Press wrote. “Jews hear a clear demand for Israel’s destruction.”

Crider said she’s also concerned with a lack of understanding about the meaning of the term from students on American college campuses. She said she has seen videos of people using the phrase without understanding what it means.

“You ask all these college students what river and what sea? They have zero clue. It’s embarrassing really. They don’t even know what they’re saying,” Crider said. “It’s calling for the establishment of the state of Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, which is basically erasing Israel and its people.”

Crider said the business where the graffiti was painted was alerted to its presence and that the owner was working to have it removed. She said she worries about the safety of her Jewish friends and said hate has no place in Mesa County.

“If you are Jewish, this is really horrible and it’s really scary,” Crider said. “It should be taken very seriously.”

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