mural antisemitic matlow toronto

Toronto mural gets redesign after councillor says it closely portrays antisemitic trope

A mural in Toronto will get repainted to better portray the artist's vision after a councillor raised concerns it too closely resembled an antisemitic trope. 

Toronto City Councillor Josh Matlow took to Twitter to share his opinion about a painting in Tarragon Village, featuring community members.

The mural depicts a Jewish person sitting hunched over with almost claw-like hands, next to a person in a wheelchair, a man sewing and a third person playing.

It is believed the mural stands on Bridgman Avenue, near Bathurst.

"Regardless of intentions, this new mural in Tarragon Village depicts a Jewish person in a way that far too closely reflects hateful antisemitic tropes," said Matlow, while linking to an image of such tropes.

The councillor included an image of what appears to be French antisemitic propaganda from the 1940s.

A Google search of the words on the image links to enteries about an antisemitic exhibition held in France during the German occupation.

The poster features an exaggerated Jewish caricature, hunched over the globe, as if to symbolize the fear that Jewish people would take over the world - a trope frequently used in Nazi propaganda. 

Throughout history, the exaggeration and disfigurement of Jewish bodies (specifically faces, noses and hands) has been used to further antisemitic beliefs and governments. 

Matlow confirmed on Twitter he had reached out to the organizer of the mural and had a "very positive and productive conversation."

"He told me that they immediately acknowledged the problem, and have had a plan to resolve it. He also spoke with he artist, who made it very clear that his intention was never to do anything that could be seen as hateful - but [understands] that the result and impact is concern, more than intention," he said.

As a result, the mural will be repainted today to depict a girl reading and a Jewish boy playing together.

"I believe in second chances, if someone is willing to own their mistake and learn from it. I'm personally convinced that they are genuinely listening and earnestly working toward a respect resolution that we can learn from," Matlow concluded.

Comments on Matlow's Twitter thread were mixed, with some saying the mural absolutely crossed a line, while others saying the comparison was a stretch. 

Lead photo by

Josh Matlow

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