‘Kidnapped’ fliers vandalized in Brooklyn as local tensions over Israel-Hamas war intensify

kidnapped fliers
As local tensions related to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas intensify, some have ripped down posters displaying the faces and names of people taken hostage by Hamas.
File photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Local tensions are flaring in Brooklyn and across New York City in response to the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza. 

Nearly a month after terrorist group Hamas attacked Israel, killing at least 1,400 people and taking more than 200 hostage and sparking a bloody war, antisemitic and anti-Arab and Muslim hate crimes have skyrocketed across the U.S. As the fighting intensified — with the death toll in Gaza reaching above 9,000 and thousands of Palestinians and Israelis displaced — so has friction between many New Yorkers.

A series of fliers emblazoned with the faces of Israeli hostages and the word “kidnapped” have become a flashpoint in the city. Created by Israeli artists Israeli artists Nitzan Mintz and Dede Bandaid shortly after the war began, the fliers are free to print out, and have been taped up on light poles and in subway stations, reminding passersby of their faces. 

But many of the posters have been ripped down — videos posted on social media showed people taking down the fliers in Williamsburg and in Manhattan. In one video shot in Williamsburg and posted on Instagram, onlookers ask a woman who appears to be taking down a flier why she is ripping it off. After flipping off the camera, the woman responds “F–k Israel, and f–k you.”  

Mintz told the New York Times that videos of people tearing down the posters revealed clear antisemitism, adding that “It brought awareness of how hated we are as a community.”

Between Oct. 7-23, the Anti-Defamation League tracked 312 antisemitic incidents across the U.S. — up from 64 incidents over the same time period in 2022. The Center on American Islamic Relations reported 774 anti-Arab and anti-Muslim incidents between Oct. 7 and Oct. 24. 

Most of the incidents fell short of being classified as hate crimes, reported Voice of America. Both the ADL and the FBI, however, have reported staggering increases in antisemitism in recent years, and in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks, hate crimes experts predicted an increase in bias crimes against Jewish and Arab Americans in the weeks to follow. 

In New York City, Jewish and Arab residents alike have been physically attacked and harassed on sidewalks, public transportation, and on college campuses. Less than a week after the war began, three hate crimes believed to be related to the conflict were reported in Brooklyn alone.

On Oct. 31, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the state would re-evaluate antisemitism policies at the City University of New York after a number of incidents on college campuses. The same day, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she was pushing for increased funding for security at synagogues and other Jewish organizations and is working to create a new government body to study hate crimes and provide recommendations on how best to collect data on hate crime reports.