Jerusalem resident ordered to remove anti-deportation sign from apartment

Following a Facebook post that received dozens of replies, the municipality retracted its demand.

The sign on Kramarski's apartment in Rehavia, Jerusalem (photo credit: GAL KRAMARSKI)
The sign on Kramarski's apartment in Rehavia, Jerusalem
(photo credit: GAL KRAMARSKI)
Following an outcry, the Jerusalem Municipality rescinded an order to a city resident to remove a banner hanging outside her apartment opposing the deportation of African migrants from the country.
Gal Kramarski, 27, received an order on Thursday asking her to remove the sign hanging from the front porch of her rented apartment.
The sign read: “Help – this deportation is killing [the migrants].”
The order said that placing the sign violates municipal law and that it should be removed within 84 hours. It added that if Kramarski would not “remove the hazard,” she might “face legal charges, in accordance with the law.”
After receiving the order, Kramarski published a Facebook post saying: “This is a legitimate protest in a democratic state, isn’t it? It seems that in our not-so-democratic country, even a protest within your own home is not legitimate anymore.
“The Jerusalem municipality/Israeli government... leave us alone and let us do whatever we want in our own homes,” she added. “I hope that this is just [the actions of] a random racist inspector, and not a racist neighbor, or even worse – an anti-democratic policy.”
With the assistance of friends, social activists and municipal council members, Kramarski caught the attention of the municipality, which retracted its decision an hour and a half after the Facebook post was published.
“With the given circumstances and after reexamining the situation, the order that was given to you is canceled,” a municipality account replied to Kramarski’s Facebook post.
Kramarski told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that she is convinced that the municipality’s order was politically motivated.
“The city is filled with political signs, they are everywhere,” she said. “The municipality should not be able to demand to remove signs that it doesn’t like.
“This whole situation is absurd to me. It is anti-democratic and prevents freedom of speech and freedom of protest,” she said.
“And this is why I insisted on this matter so much – this move did not strike me as a singular incident between me and the municipality. It seemed to me like something bigger, national, if I may say.
“It is scary to think that signs are taken down these days for political motives. Would it seem rational that, during election time, opposition signs would be removed?” she asked.
Kramarski also said that since she published the post, she has received threats and offensive comments. However, she said that she believes that putting the issue out there is more important.
City Councilwoman Laura Wharton (Meretz) criticized the municipality for applying double standards on expressions of protest by the Left and the Right.
“If the test of a democratic regime is equality under the law, Jerusalem’s current administration has failed,” she said.
“Just a few months ago, a huge sign was hung out of an apartment window with the slogan, ‘Leftists are traitors.’ Days of protest by numerous residents were of little avail, and the municipality dragged its feet in dealing with the issue. Yet this week, shortly after a sign saying, ‘The deportations are killing us’ was put on an apartment balcony, city inspectors delivered a fine warning to the apartment’s occupants. Only after hundreds of Facebook responses and an appeal by city councilors was the fine canceled.
“It is a sad sign of the times that in Jerusalem, incitement against leftists is tolerated but support for asylum-seekers is criminal,” she said, and added that she is glad that the municipality corrected itself.
However, she added that she is “deeply pained to see the swift attack on freedom of speech while incitement against minority views is ignored. Democracy must protect freedom of speech, but forbid calls to violence. It seems that under [Jerusalem Mayor Nir] Barkat the reverse is true.”
A response from the municipality was not received by press time.