The 'Nazi' Ronald Mcdonald
The 'Nazi' Ronald McdonaldR. Torrosian

Political statement, gruesome prank, or one man's opinion of fast food? That's the question plaguing pedestrians and drivers in Manhattan's Soho neighborhood, who recently noticed an image of Ronald Mcdonald, icon and avatar of the world's biggest fast food company, giving a full-blown Nazi salute.

Ronald is dressed in green military style fatigues, and is seen holding a Happy Meal, the special Mcdonald's meal for kids. He also appears to be wearing Nazi-style jackboots, and has his hand splayed upwards in a “Heil Hitler” salute – all while sporting his trademark grin.

Observers were puzzled at the display. Soho is not known as a bastion of white supremacists, so it's unlikely to be Nazi imagery. It's possible that the image is meant as a political statement, saying something about America's fast food cultural homogeneity. Or, perhaps most likely, it was just supposed to be a controversial piece of street art; the image is signed by a graffiti artist known as Whisbe, whose other “work” in Soho includes images of provocatively-dressed females.

The image has been on the wall of a parking lot on Thompson Street (between Spring and Broome Streets) in Manhattan since at least May, when it was first noticed by several bloggers.

Regardless of the intent, the Nazi imagery has been very difficult for many Jews and Israelis in Manhattan to handle. One Israeli entrepreneur, Ami Mesika, insisted that "to see images of a Nazi Ronald Mcdonald is simply offensive and horrific to anyone of any religion. Living in the area and seeing these images is disgusting and someone needs to take them down."