Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Photos of Israeli Hostages Defaced with Nazi Symbol in Canada

Swastikas were drawn on posters of hostages held by Hamas in Toronto’s Cedarvale Park, entrepreneur and businesswoman Tamar Lyons discovered during her morning walk on Tuesday.

The black swastikas were mostly drawn on the faces of the hostages, which included the one-year-old and four-year-old Bibas children. The Toronto Police Service said that it was aware of the incident and that the posters had been taken down.

Lyons told The Jerusalem Post that “seeing those posters was very shocking,” and while in the past there had been posters ripped down, she hadn’t seen graffiti of that nature in the area before. She decried putting the symbol associated with Nazi Germany on the faces of Jewish people who had been held hostage or killed by Hamas since the October 7 massacre.

“We need to stand together and call out antisemitism when we see it,” said Lyons. “It’s one thing to have an opinion about what’s going on in the world, but it’s another to do something so hateful and that causes fear.”

Lyons explained that the park is full of many posters like the hostage posters, and that there is a high concentration of Jewish residents in the area.

Jewish Canadian organizations also condemned the antisemitic vandalism.

“Such vile and callous acts of antisemitism are not acceptable anywhere,” said The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in a social media post on Tuesday. “This hate has to stop!”

Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that it had notified the Toronto Police of the graffiti and called on Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow to speak out about the incident.

“It takes an inhumane, hate-filled individual to vandalize the posters of kidnapped and murdered hostages, including children,” FSWC said on X on Tuesday. “We are horrified to see this in our city.”

Canadian Shaare Zedek Hospital Foundation national executive director Rafi Yablonsky, a friend of Lyon’s, said on X on Tuesday that the vandalism represented “a new low for Toronto.”

“I’m at loss for words. Who vandalizes posters of kidnapped and murdered people? Mayor Olivia Chow, your silence only encourages this hate to grow in our city,” he said.

The antisemitic vandalism is not the first controversy in Cedarvale Park involving hostage posters.

Municipal workers were filmed tearing down awareness posters for baby hostage Kfir Bibas in the park in late February. The city workers said that they were removing the posters according to the requirements of the municipality. The city said that it recognized that it could have handled the issue better.Toronto Police announced a new anti-hate crime awareness campaign on Tuesday, after law enforcement announced on March 18 that hate crimes had increased in the city by 93% since the October 7 massacre over the previous year. Most of these crimes were antisemitic, and anti-Jewish crime accounted for 56% of hate crimes in Toronto in 2024.

“International conflicts have led to fears and tensions, and sometimes acts of discrimination and violence. Individuals who harbor prejudiced views feel emboldened or justified to express their biases,” said Superintendent Katherine Stephenson of Intelligence Services. “To better address the impact, we are asking the community to report these crimes to police so we can identify trends, provide community support, address public safety concerns and implement preventative measures.”

Deputy Chief Robert Johnson said in the Tuesday briefing that “The impact of crime motivated by hate is far-reaching. It extends beyond the physical and emotional trauma suffered by the victim, affecting all members of the targeted community and beyond.”

The awareness campaign consists of posters and a radio public service announcement.