Cleveland’s Mural Outrage

What would you do if your friendly neighborhood gas station suddenly sprouted a mural depicting a man with a skullcap fellating an infant? Apparently, in Cleveland, Ohio, you wouldn’t do much of anything at all. Oh sure, you might express outrage and the mayor might make a statement, but that’s all folks.

I know. Because I spoke to a couple of Clevelanders, one of them presently living in that fair city, the other having made Aliyah to Israel a little over a year ago. These (Jewish) friends of mine say that Brahim “Abe” Ayad, the proprietor at Biggie’s gas station and convenience store, does this all the time. Eventually, he paints over the wall.

And then does it again (In between rounds of Farm Heroes Saga. Goodness, he’s up to level 131!)

Cleveland’s Mural Outrage

My friends think of Ayad’s graffiti as a Jewish problem.

I don’t.

Last week, Uri Gobey over at Israel Muse drew my attention to the aforementioned mural; the most disgusting piece of wall “art” I’d ever seen. The mural had made it onto the television screen by way of a local news broadcast.

While the mural was certainly anti-Semitic, it was also clearly pornographic. Though none of the locals interviewed on WEW Channel 5 appeared to be Jewish, they were upset their children had been and continued to be exposed to pornography.

So what happened next?

Mayor Frank Jackson made a statement (Oh, my. I bet old Abe is quaking in his boots. Not.).

Cleveland's Mural Outrage

The statement:

“There is no place in Cleveland for this inappropriate image and I am urging the owners of this establishment to remove it immediately.”

I was appalled at this news piece. I could not, for the life of me, understand why no one did more than make noise. My friends explained that this had happened before (!). In fact, they said it had happened many times (!!).

I said, “So HELLO? Why aren’t you doing anything about it?”Cleveland's Mural Outrage

They wanted to know what I thought they could do. My mouth dropped open. What could they do??

Refuse to patronize his gas station. Create and hand out leaflets. Write op-eds and letters to the editor. RALLY. Um. BUY SPRAY PAINT??

I mean, seriously.

As the morning wove on, I discovered this had happened at least seven times before. In the past, Ayad’s mural messages (as opposed to “moral messages”) were “merely” anti-Semitic as opposed to pornographic and anti-Semitic. So the locals looked the other way and deemed it a “Jewish problem” while the Jews figured there’s not all that much they can do about the problem because the gas station is not in a Jewish neighborhood.

So my questions asked and answered, I STILL DON’T GET IT.

If someone were to put up a mural in my community expressing bigotry toward an ethnic group other than my own, you can bet your sweet bippy I’d holler long and loud until it got taken down. I would stop at nothing until the offensive work was erased, removed, and kaput. And if nothing else worked, I’d buy a can of spray paint and take care of it myself.

I’d also make sure that none of my neighbors patronized a store that displayed this type of artwork.


Complacency. That’s what it boils down to. Everyone thinks that as long as they’ve complained (to the news, to a NEIGHBOR??) they’re done.

And that is why Ayad is becoming ever bolder. Now he has crossed the line from anti-Semitism to anti-Semitic pornography. It is now impossible to call the graffiti “only’” a Jewish problem. As Aussie Dave noted in his earlier post on the subject, the news report mentions that,

“The gas station sits right across the street from the George Washington Carver School for grades K-8 and their playground.  The image is on the side that is in plain sight of students.”

Imagine. You send your little girl off to school (she’s in, let’s be conservative and say second grade) and when she comes home she asks,

“Mommy, what’s a Talmudic priest? Why does he put a baby’s penis in his mouth?”

What should a mother answer to THAT?

Now, if my child asked me this question I’d say, “It’s a part of the circumcision process, it’s called ‘metzitzah’ and today it is done with a pipette for health reasons.”

The only reason I’d know that is because 1) I’m Jewish and orthodox and 2) I have 8 sons and know quite a lot about the subject of circumcision. By the way, I can guarantee that 3) There is absolutely nothing sexual in the act. It is about drawing away germ-filled blood from the wound to ensure the baby’s safe recovery.

But if I were a local of that particular neighborhood with its largely black demographic, I wouldn’t know that. I’d only know it was a depiction of a rabbi doing fellatio on an infant. I wouldn’t know if Jews really do this sort of thing and I might not care enough to ascertain the truth. What would I tell my child?

I might say:

“A bad man painted a dirty picture on his gas station wall. When you’re in the playground, try not to look at it. It’s BAD.”

I’d probably say that because not knowing anything about Jewish custom, I’d want to neatly sidestep the anti-Semitic message and just tell my child the art is, in general, “bad.”

But seriously, is there no way to protect area children from such corruption? Are there no parents brave enough to force this man out of business? Not à la Sterling with dubiously legal procedures, but by way of a grassroots boycott? Picket the man! Hand out leaflets!

I’m left asking: what is wrong with Clevelanders? With AMERICA? How can they leave this mural in full view of small children??

I fully expect an outcry of disgust against me for maligning Americans in general and Clevelanders in particular. But as in the case of Biggie’s artist, Abe Ayad, I expect the outrage won’t add up to more than a lot of sound and fury.

Signifying NOTHING.

About Varda Epstein

A third-generation-born Pittsburgher on her mother’s mother’s side, Varda moved to Israel 34 years ago and is a crazy political animal who spams people with right wing political articles on Facebook in between writing about education as the communications writer at Kars for Kids, raising her 12 children, and noshing constantly on fried food

Facebook Comments

  • Art Deco

    Anti-obscenity laws have been gutted in this country by our repulsive judiciary, so there is no legal recourse. Ordinances imposing criminal penalties for ethnic slurs have a way of morphing into privileges granted to hustlers to harass people and privileges granted to state agents to suppress dissent (as has happened in Canada and Britain), so you cannot prudently do that unless it were drawn the way an intelligent anti-obscenity law were drawn, to prohibit the display of very discrete terms and images (e.g. ‘kike’ or blood soaked matzoh).

    The thing is, in most circumstances, the market would take care of this character. Retail trade has very slim profit margins and a critical mass of people could be expected to refuse patronage. I’m guessing his casual customers do not connect the mural with his business and the regular customers do not care, which is to say that there is a market for this sort of thing in that section of Cleveland. This surprises me as there are not many ethnic Arabs anywhere outside of greater Detroit and those of the Near East in this country are commonly Copts or Christian Arabs with more ambivalent or qualified views on the Jews.

    • walt kovacs

      not gutted

      we have this thing called the first amendment

      • Art Deco

        Only the ‘first amendment’ as imagined by Frank Zappa.

        Somehow, prior to 1966, it was never considered to disallow state law and postal regulations containing the traffick in obscene literature. In point of fact, the relevant court opinions do not contend states cannot proscribe the traffick in obscene literature. They’ve just left the definition of permissible proscription so muddled that local courts and vice cops are stymied and prosecutors (harboring the gentry attitudes they do) are unenthusiastic about doing something congruent with an old world outlook (like putting these traffickers out of business).

        Read the 1st Amendment: speech, publication, assembly, and petition, i.e. protection for work which is part of civic life, which nude dancing at the Kitty Kat Lounge is not.

      • Zak

        What does the freedom of religion or press have to do with this Walt?

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      They know. They just expect SOMEONE ELSE to do something about it. They prefer to tsk and then change the subject. Too much trouble? Too much something. It’s disgusting.

      • Art Deco

        There’s nothing to do other then to buy your gasoline and spot groceries elsewhere.

        • Varda Meyers Epstein

          There’s a lot to do and that would obviously be the desired end result.

          • Art Deco

            I suppose you can picket the place. You need persistent manpower for that. Perhaps a denunciation from a neighborhood association or the Chamber of Commerce might help…

            • Varda Meyers Epstein

              There needs to be grassroots impetus. My sense is that Clevelanders just don’t care enough to raise a bigger, sustained ruckus.

            • Varda Meyers Epstein

              There needs to be grassroots impetus. My sense is that Clevelanders just don’t care enough to raise a bigger, sustained ruckus.

            • Varda Meyers Epstein

              There needs to be grassroots impetus. My sense is that Clevelanders just don’t care enough to raise a bigger, sustained ruckus.

              • Art Deco

                I would think most places this would kill his business toute de suite. I cannot figure how it hasn’t. The services provided by convenience stores are largely inter-changeable, though the quality of the inventory is not and the quality of the service is not. In a city neighborhood, there’s going to be another one just down the street that does not set off the customers’ creep meters.

                • Varda Meyers Epstein

                  Because everyone thinks someone else should take care of this. The city. The mayor. The big mouthed next door neighbor. They shrug and wait.

  • walt kovacs

    its friggin cleveland, where the cops are so inept that guys can keep women prisoners in their homes for years, with no one coming a knocking….where serial killers can ply their trade for years, without being caught

    so you have one crazy, jew hating arab with a gas station who doesnt actually care about making a living

    want something to really be upset about?

    the above center sits right at the edge of the largest jewish community in america, west of the mississippi

    it has been open since right after 9/11, ostensibly as a response to the “islamaphobia” that arose subsequent to the attacks

    there is no large arab community in the area to serve and it has hosted many jew haters over the years and sponsored hate the jew events at places like uc irvine

    on its board sit filth like reza aslan, dan bustany and a recent foul mouthed visitor to this site, dianne shammas

    not once has the community said boo about this place…in fact, there are los angeles jews who have praised its work

    this place of “moderation” scares me a lot more than some whacked out gas jockey.

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      I can’t agree with you. Kids are in the playground across the street from this filth. Kids can’t read a website. But they see that mural and it affects them.

      • walt kovacs

        the levantine center is an actual brick and mortar building

        and its so much easier to get excited by filth shoved right in your face, than jew hate being fostered right under your nose behind closed doors

      • walt kovacs

        the levantine center is an actual brick and mortar building

        and its so much easier to get excited by filth shoved right in your face, than jew hate being fostered right under your nose behind closed doors

        • Varda Meyers Epstein

          You’re totally missing the point. This mural faces a playground at an elementary school. Shoved in the faces of SMALL CHILDREN.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    What’s wrong with America is that our president is a crypto-jihadist and certain key members of Congress prefer to get along rather than blow the whistle.

    • Varda Meyers Epstein

      Yup. I could have saved myself all those words and let you sum things up for us all, Norman. (I’m tempted to add a smiley, but alas, it’s just not funny).

  • End_the_Stupidity

    This a$$clown shows the depth of his ignorance by misspelling “permitted.” If you’re going to be so hateful, at least try not to make yourself look like a bigger moron than you already do.

  • Max

    The Elder has more sordid images from the gas station:

    Something I’ve been pointing out, via comments on people’s blogs, is that some of this “art” looks A LOT like some of what shows up on the dreaded “apartheid walls” that show up every spring on UC campuses (especially the one labeled “Jewish Terror”). It’s clear to me that whoever does up those “apartheid wall” panels is well schooled in the same style of visual propaganda as the creator of these murals, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the connections don’t end there.

  • Steve

    Public obscenity is not an easy case under the present Supreme Court jurisprudence, still I think the pornographic image could be removed seeing as it is near a school, if the municipality or State had the requisite statute. Such a statute could be narrowly written to pass muster and could still be written, if anyone cared. Children are still allowed to receive some greater degree of protection. The antisemitic images would not be removed. Anti black images would be removed quickly, no question and if not by fiat then by other means: the store would lose its liquor license, the city would declare it a nuisance and traffic hazard, etc, etc.

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