Countless videos have spread this week of people taking down hostage posters. But almost immediately, it seems, viewers knew that this one would be different.
Like the others, this video featured someone tearing down the fliers featuring the names and pictures of some of the more than 200 people held captive by Hamas in Gaza. But unlike the rest, the man confronting the poster-ripper did not just urge the person to stop. Instead, he said the f-word. A lot.
Another difference: The man confronting the person taking down the posters was, by his own admission, “not f—ing Jewish.”
“You don’t have a f—ing right to touch that s—,” the man sporting a brown plaid shirt yelled in a thick New York City accent about halfway through the 43-second clip, which was first shared by the group StopAntisemitism. Someone can be heard calling him Paulie.
“This is a free country,” the man went on. “You can wave your Palestine flag and say ‘Death to the Jews’ or America or whatever you want, but we can put up f—ing signs, OK? Then don’t rip that down.”
After a short confrontation with the man he said had torn down the posters, he said, “You’re littering the city. In a minute I’m going to litter the f—ing floor with you.”
As of Friday evening, the video had more than 3 million views on X, formerly known as Twitter, and more on Instagram. Users quickly determined that the exchange occurred at a specific street corner in the Queens neighborhood of Forest Hills, which has a large Jewish community. Several said they’d like to buy the man a beer or several, or send him money on Venmo.
“This non Jewish person’s determination to do the right thing is the energy and support we need right now,” wrote one user on Instagram. “Helping bring the hostages home is what any decent human being should do.”
As Shabbat began in New York on Friday evening, Paulie’s identity had not yet been publicly revealed. But it seemed to be only a matter of time. “Who wants to [buy] those guys a beer?” another user wrote on Instagram, adding the applause emoji. “We need the reverse shame game and find their names and publicly praise them.”