Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

In D.C., Chinese Zodiac Symbol Becomes Jew Rat Graffiti

Street art became anti-Semitic graffiti in Washington, D.C. after vandals wrote “Jew” on images of rats meant to evoke the Chinese Zodiac.

Passerby first noticed the graffiti at the intersection at 7th and H Streets in the heart of D.C.’s Chinatown on Aug. 3, said Eli Schechner, a Princeton University junior who’s doing an internship at a foreign policy think tank. In May, the city decorated the crosswalks there in honor of the neighborhood’s character and history, and included the signs of the Chinese Zodiac, including horses, snakes, bulls — and rats.

Schechner noticed mentions of the graffiti on Twitter that day, and then saw it himself the next day — after the city had tried to remove it, and someone had redone it.

“It was a little early in the morning to be seeing signs of anti-Semitism,” Schechner said.

The graffiti was cleaned up later in the day and had not reappeared as of August 5. Schechner hopes it stays gone, but also has to admit this anti-Semitic graffiti was a strong example of the genre.

“It’s a clever way to get anti-Semitism out there rather than just writing a swastika on a building,” he said. “I’m glad they’re embracing nuance.”

Contact Helen Chernikoff at [email protected] or on Twitter @thesimplechild


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.