Trolling is Not Solidarity: Against Lushsux

Australian graffiti artist Lushsux made news yesterday with another piece on the apartheid wall between Israel and the occupied West Bank, depicting Netanyahu and Trump in the Soviet- fraternal kiss, a reference to Dmitri Vrubel’s work on the Berlin Wall in 1990. The piece was widely shared on social media, like their Rick and Morty inspired work a few weeks ago.

A closer look at Lushsux reveals that their politics is as derivative and shallow as their artwork.

On October 18th, Lushsux tweeted a poll for ideas of what to paint next on the apartheid wall between Palestine/Israel. George Soros, Bear Grylls, Mark Zuckerberg, and Julian Assange being the options. Soros is frequently the subject of conspiracy theories, many of which explicitly antisemitic, which rely on his wealth, Jewish heritage, and progressivism to substantiate claims that he is ‘behind’ social unrest and leftist political movements.

Another piece showed a Kosher pickle with a yarmulke. “True story, guard in the tower pissed on me out the window while painting this. I Happened to notice he had no foreskin on his kosher pickle” Lushsux tweeted about the piece on October 9th.

And there are the portraits, of Morgan Freeman next to a Nelson Mandela quote, Larry David next to a quote by Bernie Sanders, Mark Zuckerberg as Data from Startrek.

Further back on his twitter feed and it becomes clear that he is an alt-right troll using political art as a shield and the Palestine/Israel conflict as a canvas.

Lushsux has tagged pieces with well-known alt-right figures like Pepe. Their work has been criticized for using the Palestinian conflict as their canvas by Palestinian solidarity activists. Lushsux has tagged ‘Free iphones, Free wifi’ next to ‘Free Palestine.’

Lushsux also references Pewdiepie, a youtube celebrity who lost a contract with Disney earlier this year over antisemitic videos which featured nazi imagery. Lushsux painted Pewdiepie on the apartheid wall as well with a caption on twitter ‘I realized Palestinian men need to learn how to respect wahmen,’ or women.

Lushsux offers jokes and gimmicks to the Palestine/Israel conflict, and has repeatedly signaled to antisemites, only depicting Jewish people who are wealthy, have been accused of sex scandals, or by their genitalia.

In 2012 Palestinian activists and the USPCN authored a statement in condemnation of Gilad Atzmon, in which they made clear that their struggle for the liberation of Palestine necessitates a struggle against antisemitism.

“We reaffirm that there is no room in this historic and foundational analysis of our struggle for any attacks on our Jewish allies, Jews, or Judaism; nor denying the Holocaust; nor allying in any way shape or form with any conspiracy theories, far-right, orientalist, and racist arguments, associations and entities.”

Lushsux makes work that strengthens the association of far-right conspiracy theory by invoking George Soros; by signifying Jewish people only through wealth, sexual depravity, and Zionism, they enforce anti semitic logic; and they are an orientalist, using the apartheid wall as their canvas, and the political struggles of Palestinian Arabs as raw material for inside jokes and notoriety.

The Netanyahu/Trump kiss was also criticized on social media for relying on homophobic messaging. The piece which juxtaposes Morgan Freeman next to Nelson Mandela relies on anti-Black racism. There seems to be no accountability from Lushsux, who retweeted a post which accuses them of using Palestine as their canvas.

Like a true troll, they devour criticism and regurgitate it as humor. There is no end to this mode, only escalation.

For a century, the Palestine/Israel conflict has escalated. Palestinians have endured displacement, home demolition, decades of military occupation and political exile. An end to the conflict, to the narrative that it is some kind of ‘unsolvable’ political and religious morass requires excising figures like Lushsux.

And much more important than whatever Lushsux will paint next on the apartheid wall is the real question of how it will be torn down.