WASHINGTON—On Tuesday, Dec. 11, and Wednesday, Dec. 12, several public areas around the American Federation of Teachers’ Washington, D.C., office building—including a wall on one side of the AFT’s building—were defaced with a yellow spray-painted message reading “I want Jexit!” The incidents were reported to local police, and some of the graffiti has been removed.
The AFT’s initial research confirms the phrase has anti-Semitic connotations, has been used previously to slur Jewish people and Jewish identity, and is popular in online spaces that cater to hate and nationalism.
The AFT has also reached out to the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center to further investigate the meaning and significance of the term used in the message. The SPLC has added images of it to its monitoring database, which tracks hate speech around the country.
AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement:
“We will stare all bigotry in the face, whether it is anti-Jew, anti-Islam, anti-black, anti-brown, anti-native, anti-LGBTQ or any other hate directed at people because of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. Defacing our community with hateful rhetoric is meant to intimidate, otherize and sow fear, and to divide our community and make people feel unsafe and unwelcome where they live and work. But this type of hate crime does just the opposite: It mobilizes us to come together and unite around the common causes of tolerance and peace, and to continue fighting for a more inclusive, more just world.”