The infamous ‘antisemitic’ mural

Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for failing to notice an East End mural’s antisemitism and now supports its removal. Is he right?

Mear One's mural painted in Brick Lane, East London, in 2012.

In September 2012, a well-executed and powerful mural painted by American graffiti artist Mear One (Kalen Ockerman) in Hanbury Street, off Brick Lane in east London was due to be blanked out by the local council because certain people had objected to it as antisemitic – a diversion from the truth, namely that the mural is not antisemitic but anti-capitalist.

Mear One is an anarchist who trenchantly criticises the capitalist system. He may have no sensible solutions to the problems he perceives, but this hardly detracts from the way he depicts, certainly in this mural, the problems that humanity needs to solve.

Why the fuss?

The basis for accusing Mear One of having produced an antisemitic mural was that he depicted a group of bankers (a selection of the infamous 19th-century ‘robber barons’) as ugly exploiters, in much the same way that Hitler, in his virulent antisemitic propaganda, portrayed all jews as ugly exploiters. Therefore anyone who portrays a rich person as ugly is being antisemitic because, according to this reasoning, only jews are rich and ugly. With respect, it is this reasoning that is, whether consciously or subconsciously, antisemitic.

In 2012, when he first painted the mural, Mear One was immediately accused of antisemitism but defended his art work against demands it should be destroyed, writing on his Facebook page:

“My mural is about class and privilege. The banker group is made up of jewish and white Anglos. For some reason they are saying I am antisemitic. This I am most definitely not … What I am against is class.” (Quoted in London council set to remove ‘antisemitic’ mural showing jewish bankers, Times of Israel, 6 October 2012)

At the time, Jeremy Corbyn, who was not then of course the leader of the imperialist Labour party but merely an important component of its ‘left’ veneer, opposed the removal of the mural. He compared the proposed treatment of Mear One’s mural to one of the progressive Mexican artist Diego Rivera: “Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller [sic] destroyed Diego Viera’s [sic] mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”

But now, nearly six years later, a hue and cry over this Facebook defence of the mural is being whipped up by elements of the bourgeoisie, particularly though not exclusively the zionists, desperate to ensure that Corbyn, who does have a record of support for the cruelly dispossessed Palestinians, never becomes prime minister, in case he becomes willing and able in that position to implement any of the ‘left’ policies that are associated with his name.

Labour party witch hunt

To that end, prominent anti-zionists in the Labour party have been subjected to a sustained campaign to slur them as being antisemitic, and the party itself is being pilloried as having an ‘antisemitism problem’ that is not being effectively addressed.

For example, the vile and disgusting war criminal and former Labour prime minister Tony Blair, always an avid supporter of Israel, has just “denounced antisemitism in the Labour party as ‘ugly and really quite disgusting’, claiming that the problem did not exist during his 13 years as party leader.

“After a week that has seen Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn come under intense pressure over his handling of the issue, the former UK prime minister said: ‘If anyone had been engaged in it, we would have acted to root it out immediately. It’s a horrible thing. It’s an ugly and really quite disgusting thing.’

“Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The Week in Westminster programme, he added: ‘It has become a problem because I’m afraid the people around Jeremy Corbyn, maybe even himself, don’t really think it’s a problem.’“

Regrettably, Corbyn buckled under the pressure: jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger challenged Corbyn’s office about his comment to Ockerman on Facebook. This then prompted from Corbyn an expression of regret that he had not at the time looked at the work more closely. He now says that the contents of the mural “are deeply disturbing and antisemitic. I wholeheartedly support its removal.”

Curious that Jeremy should think after taking a ‘closer look’ that the mural was antisemitic after all. A ‘closer look’ could not but convince one that the hysterical ‘antisemitic’ interpretation being put on it by various anti-working-class elements is totally unjustified.

The real meaning of the symbolism in the mural

Mear One himself has eloquently defended and explained his work: “In October 2012 I travelled to London to paint a mural that has, once again, become the centre of controversy and condemnation.

“I had just gone through the cypher of Occupy LA 2011, all the way to its violent end the night the LAPD rolled through to dismantle the protest. Over the course of this year-long movement my experiences helped to crystallise my post 9/11 thinking on global politics and the economic slave system, deepening my knowledge of fractional-reserve lending and other banking schemes that led to the collapse of the markets in 2008.

“These facts began to find design in my mind, and while on the flight to London I sketched out my plans for a mural inspired by these recent real world events. Art has always been my tool of communication to describe reality as I’m living it, delving into politics, science and philosophy. Given the times we are living in today – rich getting richer, poor getting poorer – I felt the need to speak out about these crimes against humanity. 

“Mayer Amschel Rothschild once said: ‘Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.’ Using this as my ideological starting point, I chose to depict the likenesses of such early turn of the century robber barons, specifically Rothschild [jewish], Rockefeller [a baptist], Morgan [an episcopalian], Carnegie [a presbyterian], Warburg [jewish], as well Aleister Crowley [Plymouth Brethren], who was a kind of philosophical guru to the ruling elite of that time and a well-known satanist.

“These men and their dynasties, whom I believe don’t subscribe to any reasonable human code of morality, have put parameters around what our reality consists of and are destroying our planet, indebting us in the trillions, profiting in the billions, while displacing millions and financing wars through illegal taxation. These wicked banksters have indeed been playing a game of monopoly on the backs of the working class.

“My mural evolved into a dark vision of an apocalyptic reality fuelled by their greed, filling our skies with coal, nuclear and chemtrail pollution. I pulled further visual inspiration from the US dollar bill, which holds sacred freemason iconography, such as the ‘all-seeing eye’, accompanied by cryptic Latin inscriptions like novus ordo seclorum or ‘new order of the ages’. There are several other hidden symbols, which some may argue have jewish influences, such as the star configuration that rises above the eagle crest forming a two-dimensional tetrahedron, considered by some as the star of David. I always wondered why?

“Though there are strange iconographic images like the pyramid and stars, that doesn’t mean I believe the system is Egyptian, anymore than I believe there is some jewish conspiracy creating and controlling our money either. So to conflate my anti-capitalist message with antisemitic rhetoric, as the UK politicians and their MSM [mainstream media] puppets have so adeptly accomplished, is very ill-intended and manipulative.

“Critics took liberty to pick and highlight my written words, which were based in actual fact, about how some of the older folk in the community who claimed to be jewish came upon me while I was painting my mural and asked me who these characters were, and when I replied they were aghast at how I could portray someone like Rothschild in such a wicked manner. They expressed to me all of the good deeds Rothschild had done for the jewish community and the world at large. That’s what they said!

“Also, for the record, I have never said anything about these characters representing anything more than greedy old European and American men in power. JP Morgan carried the look that interested me the most, that of a fat cat who perhaps had too much fine wine and rich food in his time.

“The cartoonish way these characters are depicted was inspiration I took directly from the monopoly game itself, knowing that I would only have but three days to gather supplies and complete my mural on a very limited personal budget before needing to continue on with my travels, which affected the degree to which I could execute these very complex men.

“It was also their interpretation, and never mine, to point out ‘hook noses’, ‘crooked noses’ and other vile Nazi, Third Reich antisemitic propaganda, even concocting cuckoo ideas like how the naked figures under the monopoly board depicted ‘starving holocaust victims’, when they actually represent the multi-races of humanity!

“As a thinking feeling human being to hear such stuff makes me sick to my stomach.”

Those who persist in trying to convince the world that the mural is antisemitic (whether or not the artist realises it) put a lot of emphasis also on the masonic symbolism in the mural, that it seems was at one time associated with a ‘theory’ spread by defenders of the capitalist system to the effect that its ills did not emanate from the capitalist system itself but arose from some kind of conspiracy cobbled together by greedy jews and freemasons.

This of course would have been an antisemitic ‘theory’, since it was aimed at focusing the anger felt by the working masses against innocent jews as well as freemasons. It is not a theory most people in Britain today have ever heard of, and the only people with an interest in perpetuating it are zionists.

The zionist agenda

For the zionists, this conspiracy theory is useful in their struggle to convince jewish people that they are under constant threat of victimisation by non-jewish people in order to shore up what we consider their antisemitic contention that all jews belong not in their own countries but in Israel.

Both this ‘antisemitic mural’ story as well as the ‘wicked Russia/Putin Skripal nerve agent poisoning’ story being repeated ad nauseam in the bourgeois media are demonstrably ‘fake news’, following Goebbels’ methods of spreading false propaganda.

In these circumstances, there is one good thing that comes out: people will be able to see from the way political leaders and personalities respond to this fake news to what extent they are capable of sticking to the truth in the midst of manufactured hysteria: ie, to what extent they are fit for political office.

As we go to press, the news is coming in that Israeli armed forces have killed scores of Palestinians and wounded 1,500 others who were unarmed and demonstrating peacefully on Land Rights Day along the Israeli-Gazan boundary fence, demanding the right to return, as per the 1948 UN resolution, to the homes from which they were expelled at gunpoint.

No words of condemnation of Israel, let alone any outrage against Israel’s brutal treatment of the demonstrators, has been expressed by the same bourgeois politicians and the media that worked themselves into such hysterical frenzy over the mural, which, as explained above, is anti-capitalist, and not in the least anti-jewish.

Alongside the imperialists’ desire to crush increasingly vocal criticism of Israel by smearing anti-zionism as antisemitism, the only other purpose can be to divert the attention of the working people away from Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people into the harmless avenue of the fight against antisemitism, which in present-day Europe is non-existent for practical purposes.

According to most reliable surveys, while 7 percent of the British population have some sort of prejudice against jews, over 60 percent entertain strong prejudice against muslims, yet we hear very little from the same gentry about islamophobia.

The zionists are playing a dangerous game when they conflate anti-zionism and condemnation of Israel with antisemitism, as they thereby de facto claim all ‘right-thinking’ jews (as opposed to ‘self-hating’ jews) are racist believers in jewish exceptionalism, and supporters of forcible and violent dispossession of Arabs from their lands, and victimisation of those who remain or who seek to return.

Clearly all jews are certainly not in that category, but the zionists do their utmost to make them seem, simply by virtue of being jewish, to be major enemies of human decency. We can perfectly understand the motivation for this unjustifiable conflation by the zionists, for by so doing they seek to delegitimise and criminalise support for the Palestinian people, such as the BDS movement and Israeli Apartheid Weeks on campuses, and to bring down or force into line any mainstream politician espousing, however mildly, pro-Palestinian or other anti-imperialist or progressive viewpoints.