SEATTLE — Although it’s been painted over, the hurt caused by an anti-Semitic message found spray-painted near Seattle's Central District still lingers. That message was discovered just a block away from Jewish Family Service of Seattle’s office.
"It's okay to be a Zionist genocider," read the hateful message.
"It's frustrating, it makes you angry, it's sad,” said Rabbi Will Berkovitz. “It's heartbreaking that this is what we are as a society."
Berkovitz is the Rabbi and CEO of Jewish Family Service, a social service agency. He said a neighbor spotted this anti-Semitic message Sunday morning spray-painted on the back of the 7-Eleven located on the corner of Pine and 16th streets, just a block away from the JFS.
"People feel it's okay and comfortable to do that across from a social service agency which is designed to serve the whole community and there's a synagogue just right down the road as well," said Berkovitz.
Although the graffiti has been painted over by the city, there are still remnants on the wall. That hurts Berkovitz, who believes this message could be a response to his op-ed piece in the Seattle Times last week in which he was critical toward the State of Israel and the rise in hate crimes toward his own community.
"This is shockingly normal in Seattle, you just have to open your eyes to see it,” said Berkovitz. “Swastikas painted here, you know anti-Jewish paint, painted there."
In 2020, there were more than 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents throughout the country, according to the Anti-Defamation League. During that same year, the Seattle Police Department responded to 23 anti-Jewish crimes, with the most recent data from March 2021 showing there were eight incidents in the first three months of last year.
SPD said the Bias Crimes Detective Unit is investigating the case, but Berkovitz wants to see more done by the community as a whole.
"We need to learn to see the world not in black and white, but in gray,” said Berkovitz. “Clearly whoever's writing this is writing this from some kind of deep pain themselves."