A woman in Brookline, Boston was filmed tearing down posters of kidnapped Israelis.

She blew a kiss to the individual recording her, and stated “have a good one” while leaving.

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Amidst the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, the presence of “kidnapped” posters has become a symbol of activism, widely distributed across the United States, Western Europe, and beyond. Created by Israeli street artists, these posters, featuring images of over 200 hostages seized by Hamas, are easily accessible online and have been displayed on lampposts, storefronts, and subway entrances as a means of drawing public attention to the plight of those held captive.

However, the act of removing these posters has emerged as a distinct form of protest, serving as both a release valve and a provocation. Individuals distressed by what they perceive as the Israeli government’s mistreatment of Palestinians, both in the years leading up to October 7 and during the recent bombing of Gaza, have engaged in the deliberate destruction of these posters as an expression of their dissent.

The clashes over these posters have not been without consequences. Instances of individuals caught destroying the posters have sparked condemnation on social media, leading to real-world repercussions such as job losses for some, including a dentist in Boston and a person in South Florida. The fervor surrounding this issue mirrors the intense debates surrounding the broader question of whose suffering and narrative should take precedence in the public consciousness.

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Critics of the posters view them as wartime propaganda, while those opposing their removal characterize the act as antisemitic and devoid of basic humanity. The disputes have escalated, at times, teetering on the edge of violence, serving as a proxy battleground for the life-or-death war in the Middle East. This multifaceted conflict underscores the complexity and deeply rooted emotions associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, extending beyond the physical battlefield to encompass a global discourse on human rights, empathy, and the framing of narratives.