NY Times: Maybe the ‘Kidnapped’ Posters Are the Problem?

On the one hand, virulent anti-Israel activists have been tearing down posters of kidnapped Israelis, to the disgust of people across the world and political spectrum. On the other hand, maybe the posters are the real problem.

That, at least, is how the New York Times lays out the issue. In an Oct. 31 story about those who have vandalized fliers of Hamas’s hostages, Times reporter Katherine Rosman makes the case that the destruction of the posters, perhaps, is just a “release valve” for the “anguished”:

Displaying the posters has become a form of activism, keeping the more than 200 hostages seized by Hamas in full view of the public.

But removing the posters has quickly emerged as its own form of protest — a release valve and also a provocation by those anguished by what they say was the Israeli government’s mistreatment of Palestinians in the years before Oct. 7 and since the bombing of Gaza began.

Readers alternatingly hear from those calling attention to the abductees’ plight and those seeking to silence the calls. Those giving voice to children ripped from their homes, sometimes by the same terrorists who murdered their parents, and those acting as the muzzle. Why the Times believes the muzzlers needed a megaphone is anyone’s guess. But the newspaper came through for them, offering the very thing they acted to deny others. 

“They’re making the conflict worse,” a defacer says of the posters—as if tearing down the image of a 2-year-old girl is the key to counteracting Hamas’s brutal escalation. Another says of those activists putting up the fliers, “It’s so obvious that they don’t care about people’s lives.” This is the level of analysis the paper thought readers couldn’t do without.

The photos are “wartime propaganda.” They are “bait,” dangled maliciously in order to ensnare people who, apparently, lose all self-control when inconvenienced by images of hostages. “I think it’s disgusting how they’re trying to destroy people’s lives,” an anti-Israel activist argues—the they referring not to Hamas, of course, but to New York Jews acting in solidarity with the kidnapped, after the worse slaughter of innocent Jews since the Holocaust. The posters are “anti-Islamic.” They’re “being used to target Palestinians.” The plan is “to foment war.”

Proponents of the “kidnapped” posters are given equal space. But that arrangement only benefits the vandalizers, the ones with the PR problem that needed to be tackled. 

It’s not that the newspaper believes each side requires an equal hearing in every article. Just a few days ago, under the headline “Protesters fill the streets in New York to support Palestinians in Gaza,” the paper did nothing more than quote the slogans of anti-Israel protesters. It’s not uncommon, either, to see stories with headlines like “For Palestinians, Israel-U.A.E. Deal Swaps One Nightmare for Another” that focus mostly on one point of view among one demographic.

In the case of the vandalized posters, the New York Times could have given a platform to those being silenced. But it wanted to legitimize the hateful vandals.


(Strong language warning.)

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