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Apparent anti-Israel activists splash red paint on homes of Jewish officials at Brooklyn Museum

People claiming to be pro-Palestinian activists threw red paint at the home of a Jewish associate at the Brooklyn Museum early Wednesday and also splashed paint on the facade of a German-Palestinian Authority diplomatic building, prompting a police investigation and condemnation from city authorities.

In a post on the social platform “X,” Mayor Eric Adams shared a photo of the brick building splattered with red paint and a banner hanging in front of its entrance calling museum director Anne Pasternak a “white supremacist Zionist.”

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“This is not peaceful protest or free speech. This is a crime and blatant, unacceptable anti-Semitism,” Adams wrote, expressing sympathy for Pasternak and the other museum officials whose home was defaced. “This kind of behavior would never be tolerated in New York City for any reason.”

Part of the entrance to the German Consulate in New York is covered in red paint, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Pro-Palestinian protesters have also vandalized sites associated with the Brooklyn Museum and the United Nations in New York City, throwing red paint at the entrance in opposition to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Sophie Rosenbaum)

Museum spokeswoman Taylor Martman said four staff members were targeted. Not all of them are Jewish, but all have Jewish family members, she said. A police report has been filed.

“Earlier today, the home of members of the Brooklyn Museum was vandalized in an attempt to intimidate and threaten,” Mertman said in a statement. “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 this dialogue.”

Red paint was also thrown on the facades of a Manhattan building that houses the German consulate and mission to the United Nations, and another building that houses the headquarters of Palestinian diplomats. Leaflets criticizing the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, were dropped outside the buildings.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible or whether all of the vandalism was related.

A spokesman for the NYPD declined to comment, saying the investigation was ongoing and details would be released at a later date. Messages seeking comment were also sent to Palestinian and German diplomats.

Late last month, hundreds of protesters marched to the Brooklyn Museum, briefly pitching tents in the lobby and hanging a “Free Palestine” banner from the roof, before police were called in and dozens of arrests were made. Similar protests have taken place at other New York City museums since October.

The protest group Within Our Lifetime and other organizers of the demonstrations alleged that the museum, through its leaders, board members, corporate sponsors and donors, is “deeply involved and complicit” in Israel’s military action in Gaza, a charge museum officials deny.

The protest groups did not respond to emails seeking comment.

City Comptroller Brad Lander, one of the New York politicians who spoke out against the protests, said the Brooklyn Museum has done more to address issues of “power, colonialism, racism and the role of art” than many other museums.

“The cowards who did this go far beyond anti-Semitism, they are damaging the causes they claim to cherish and endangering the safety of all,” he wrote to X.

This spectacular museum, the city’s second largest, is located on the edge of Crown Heights, home to one of the city’s largest Orthodox Jewish communities.

Ideological conflicts are not uncommon.

Then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani threatened to close the museum in 1999 over what he said were artworks that were disrespectful to Catholics. Protesters have repeatedly demonstrated inside, outside and on the roof of the museum over the years, and in 2016 pro-Palestinian activists protested a photo exhibit about Israel and life in the West Bank, arguing it did not take a strong enough stance against Israeli “colonization.”

The paint attack came the same week that Within Our Lifetime organized a large demonstration outside a New York City exhibition to commemorate the victims of the Hamas attack on the Tribe of Nova music festival on October 7. The group called it “Zionist propaganda” and dismissed the festival, where hundreds of people were killed, as a “rave next to a concentration camp.”

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The protests were condemned from all sides, regardless of political stance.

“The callousness, inhumanity and attacks on Jewish people demonstrated during last night’s protest outside the Nova Festival exhibit is, quite simply, brutal anti-Semitism,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on X on Tuesday.

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