Graffiti on the wall of Manny’s café in San Francisco's Mission District, June 6, 2021. (Photo/Steven Buss)
Graffiti on the wall of Manny’s café in San Francisco's Mission District, June 6, 2021. (Photo/Steven Buss)

Manny’s café hit with anti-Zionist graffiti 

UPDATED: June 8, 4 p.m.

San Francisco Jewish business owner Manny Yekutiel’s popular, community-focused Mission District café was vandalized over the weekend with graffiti that read “Racist pigz” and “Zionist pigz.”

Pictures of the graffiti, which was found on June 6, were posted on Twitter by Steven Buss, a software engineer, who tagged local politicians and wrote, “these attacks on Jewish owned small businesses have to stop.”

Yekutiel signed a June 7 tweet on the Manny’s Twitter account that read, “Thanks to everyone who has reached out following the recent vandalism at Manny’s. We’re stronger together and love our community.” State Sen. Scott Wiener also tweeted, “Targeting Jewish businesses is straight up antisemitic. We must speak out & condemn this hate.” On June 8, S.F. Mayor London Breed published a tweet that said the city “will not accept antisemitic attacks against anyone. Manny has been a leader in our city and an advocate for bringing people together. This kind of hate against any and all communities has no place in our city.”

Since it opened in November 2018, Manny’s — a café, political bookshop and community space — frequently has been targeted by activists who oppose Yekutiel’s presence in the neighborhood. In the months after Manny’s opened on the corner of 16th and Valencia streets, protesters with bullhorns would stand outside once a week, in one case chantingManny is a Zionist and a gentrifier” and “Free, free Palestine.”

The café serves as a frequent event space featuring talks by high-profile progressive politicians and community leaders. The talks continued online throughout the pandemic.

The protests picked up steam after Yekutiel penned a January 2019 opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle in which he outlined his connections to Israel, where his father escaped to from Afghanistan.

Manny Yekutiel
Manny Yekutiel

“As a liberal American Jew, I have complicated feelings about Israel,” he wrote. “I do not support everything that its government does (nor everything our American government does). Israel and the United States have provided my family with safety when other countries haven’t, but that doesn’t mean I support the ending of innocent life.”

He added, “This complex issue is a perfect example of the need for high-quality discourse.”

Manny’s spokesperson David Perry declined to provide a comment about the recent vandalism. Supervisor Hillary Ronen, whose district includes the Mission, called the incident “upsetting.”

“I find Manny to be a very reasonable person who is always open to dialogue on even the most difficult political issues, including the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Ronen wrote in a statement to J. “I believe it is more productive to express disagreement by engaging in conversation and debate, rather than resorting to vandalism of small businesses that offer services to the local community.”

The graffiti at Manny’s followed a spate of antisemitic incidents targeting Jewish spaces across the country in response to the recent Israel-Hamas fighting. According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic incidents in the U.S. increased by 75 percent during the two-week period in May when bombs were dropping on both sides. Graffiti reading “Israil terror” and “Death to Israil” at a Chabad preschool in San Francisco’s Noe Valley was but one example.

Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler was a staff writer at J. from 2019 to 2021.