The Dream That Cannot Be Erased

True liberation is collective

LaDonna Witmer
6 min readMay 2, 2024
Mural on Avenida Manuel Maria Portela in Setúbal, Portugal, photographed by the author

A new mural went up near my home in Portugal recently. In a town that has long garnished its walls with colorful paintings, a new mural is not an unusual occurrence. But this one was unusual because three days after the artists put down their paintbrushes, their work was gone — obliterated by thick smears of white paint slathered across the wall.

Situated just up the street from a busy bus terminal, the mural depicted a child with a black-and-white kuffiyeh draped over his small shoulders. He sat on a pile of rubble, gazing out at a flag of Palestine and a sky of white doves. Uma janela para um pais livre, the painting was titled: A window to a free country.

I don’t know who defaced the mural. But I do know why the sight of a child dreaming of freedom was so intolerable to someone that they had to whitewash it out of existence.

I was once a Zionist. I was a child at the time, so I didn’t embrace that label with any sort of understanding. I just loved Jesus and I knew that anyone who loved Jesus loved Israel, too.

The sanctity of the state of Israel and the validity of Jews as God’s “chosen people” was embedded at the core of evangelical ideology — a truth as solid as the Holy Bible. I grew up hearing stories of the Holocaust and the…