The Last Word: Why they tear down hostage posters
Nov 24, 2023 | Avi Mayer
In the weeks since October 7, a new phenomenon has swept through the streets of major cities around the world: posters bearing the faces of the 240 Israelis held hostage by Hamas in Gaza have been plastered by Jews and their allies on walls, lamp posts, and bulletin boards, only to be torn down by an assortment of bigots from a variety of backgrounds.
Social media platforms have been flooded with videos of confrontations between the vandals and those who have caught them in the act.
A blond student at the University of Southern California can be seen giggling as she carefully removes the hostage posters from a campus bulletin board. A woman in Paris says, “It’s all propaganda.”
A man with oversized headphones walking away with a wad of crumpled posters explains that they are “perpetuating the narrative of the victimisation of the Israelis, which is completely false.”
A young woman in a green hoodie peeling posters off a New York City wall simply says, “They’re fake.”
At the same time, activists have been claiming that photos of the blackened bodies of Israeli babies were generated by artificial intelligence and the events of October 7 were staged.
Attendees at a Los Angeles screening of a 45-minute video of Hamas atrocities were physically assaulted by protesters; activists tried to dissuade invitees from attending the event, calling the footage “propaganda”.
The irony, of course, is that it is Hamas that made a point of documenting and broadcasting its savagery. The number of videos from that day is staggering; TikTok, Telegram, and other platforms have been awash with graphic depictions of the carnage.
In at least one case, the terrorists used an elderly woman’s phone to upload a video of her murder to her Facebook profile, which was how her family learned of her death.
What is happening here?
Professor Israel Charny is one of the world’s foremost Holocaust and genocide scholars. He is also a prominent psychologist and has written extensively about the psychology of Holocaust and genocide denial. In a 2001 article, Charny described the motives that drive those who deny genocides and other atrocities.
“Denials of known events of genocide must be treated as acts of bitter and malevolent psychological aggression, certainly against the victims, but really against all of human society, for such denials literally celebrate genocidal violence and in the process suggestively call for renewed massacres – of the same people or of others,” he wrote.
“Such denials also madden, insult, and humiliate the survivors, the relatives of the dead, and the entire people of the victims, and are, without doubt, continuing manifestations of the kinds of dehumanization and disentitlement that we know are the basic psychological substrates that make genocide possible, to begin with,” he noted.
Like Holocaust denial, the minimisation, erasure, and denial of Hamas’ atrocities target both the dead and the living, seeking to perpetuate their pain with breathtaking cruelty. They are, as Charny says, acts of utter dehumanisation.
Those who tear down posters bearing the faces of 10-month-old Kfir Bibas or 84-year-old Ditza Heiman, 13-year-old Alma Or or 59-year-old Michel Nisenbaum cannot countenance the notion that Jews can be victims – or that others might see them as such. To them, Jews are invariably evil, always the aggressors. There is no such thing as an innocent Jew.
“Perpetuating the narrative of the victimization of the Israelis,” as the bigot cited above said, cannot stand – facts be damned.
The response to these acts of malicious vandalism should be obvious. We should plaster our abducted loved ones’ faces everywhere. We should make them impossible to avoid. Every poster that is torn down should be replaced with ten. Our message is simple: These people are real. They are innocent. They are being held against their will. And they need to be brought home now.