A woman wearing a medical mask and a headcovering was seen pulling down flyers of Israeli hostages taped to a Railroad Street lamppost.
A witness began shooting video with their phone, asking why.
“Because [F—] Israel,” the woman responded. “That’s why.”
She declined to give her name when asked.
“If you’re so big to say [F—] Israel ,you should be proud enough to give your name,” the witness replied.
It’s a scene repeating itself across America’s big cities since flyers started going up in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacres in Israel by Hamas militants. On Friday, the same scene played out in the Berkshires.
While the flyers — showing hostages Hannah Katz and Ada Sagi — have since been replaced, the video has gone viral. It’s been shared to social media by the nonprofit StopAntisemism and other accounts.
It’s also been shared on Facebook’s Great Barrington Community Board.
There is now an active effort to identify the person and expose them by name.
“Name and job?” someone wrote on X in response to the video.
It is believed that 240 Israelis — mostly civilians — were initially taken to Gaza as hostages. Children and babies are among the missing. Five have since been released. Some have died. Negotiations to release more of the hostages were in the works as of Monday, according to multiple news sources.
The attacks and taking of hostages set off Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, resulting in what the Hamas-run health ministry says are more than 10,000 deaths, including innocent children and babies.
Divisions around the world have deepened. The “Kidnapped” flyers are just one flashpoint. Those who see Israel as the aggressor believe these are an affront.
The internet is packed with a variety of similar incidents caught on video around the world — mostly, it appears, in New York City, where countless images are stapled or taped.
Each flyer shows a photo of a hostage. It includes the hostage’s name, age and a brief description of what happened on Oct. 7. Each one can be downloaded and printed, the site says.
A flyer showing an Israeli hostage is posted on Railroad Street in Great Barrington on Monday. Two of the flyers were torn down Friday, and a video of the incident has gone viral.
They are the work of Israeli artists and designers based in New York City, according to their website, “Kidnapped from Israel.” The creators could not be reached for comment.
“Don’t look away,” their site says. “We are here to raise awareness and bring these kids home!”
“Be safe,” the site continues. “Don’t provoke or instigate any conflicts with people or officials.”
StopAntisemitism almost daily posts removal videos on its social media accounts.
Liora Rez, the nonprofit’s executive director, said in an emailed statement that the flyers “depict real people kidnapped during the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, who remain in the custody of Hamas’s genocidally antisemitic terrorists.”
“Ripping them down indicates a disregard for the suffering of the hostages and their families, an affront to human dignity that cannot help but be antisemitic,” Rez said.
Whether it is simply anger at Israel, or antisemitism, that is driving the removal of the flyers, the act itself is foreboding, Jewish activists say.
“Intrinsically we know that the beginning of dehumanization has begun,” said Jack Simony, director general of the New York-based Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation.
The nonprofit just finished a project photographing Holocaust survivors with posters of the hostages. The group’s mission is to use the lessons of Auschwitz to counter all forms of hate.
Dehumanizing a race or any group of people, Simony added, is the way society can eventually “get to a place where you can look at a train car full of children and say, ‘I’m going to send them to a gas chamber.’ ”
Monsters, he said, aren’t created overnight.
“There’s no concept that Auschwitz just fell one day from the sky,” said Simony, whose grandparents are survivors of the concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, though other family members perished. “Auschwitz is a culmination.”
In Great Barrington, the flyer incident was the latest to rattle a number of residents and business owners — some of them Jewish — and all of whom declined to go on the record both for safety and other reasons.
When asked if there are any plans to help Jews feel safe and supported in town, one official said that the town opposes “antisemitism or prejudice of any kind — we are horrified by it.”
“We are a sanctuary city,” added Stephen Bannon, chair of the Select Board. “We are a welcoming community.”