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‘Missing Cow’ Posters Appearing to Mock Hostages in Israel-Hamas War Spring Up on UPenn Campus

Hundreds of “Missing Cow” posters which appear to mock hostages in the IsraelHamas war have sprung up on campus at the University of Pennsylvania.

The posters, which have appeared in many locations throughout the campus, include a photo of a cow silhouette with “Beef Dinner” written on it. They also offer a reward of “a box of chalk and a can of beer” for finding the missing cow.

The posters have attracted criticism because they appear to resemble the “Kidnapped” posters, designed by Israeli artists Nitzan Mintz and Dede Bandaid, which display the names and faces of people who are being held hostage by Hamas terrorists.

In a post on X, StopAntisemitism accused the posters of “mocking kidnapped Israelis and comparing hostage victims to cows.”

The university said it is working to identify those responsible for hanging up the “Missing Cow” posters, which they described as “crude” and “deplorable”.

“Penn Public Safety is actively working to identify the individuals responsible for hanging crude, deplorable posters on campus,” a university spokesperson said.

The university added that the posters were immediately removed and that disciplinary action would be taken against those responsible.

Meanwhile, a person associated with the effort told The Daily Pennsylvanian the posters were not intended to be antisemitic, and they were merely “a joke to promote veganism.”

“The format of the poster was an unintentional mistake that we now realize could be misconstrued,” the unidentified person said in an email.

They added the posters “did not mean to allude to” the kidnapping of Israeli hostages by Hamas.

It is not known who is responsible for putting up the posters, but members of the animal rights organisation The Anonymous for the Voiceless were seen on campus on the day the posters appeared. However, the group has denied any involvement, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported.

Animal rights advocates have been criticised in the past for comparing meat-eating and slaughter of livestock to the Holocaust. In 2003, animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were widely criticized for their “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign which juxtaposed harrowing images of people in concentration camps with disturbing pictures of animals on farm.

The “Missing Cow” posters are the latest development in a row over antisemitism that erupted at UPenn following Hamas’ attack on Israel.

A number of megadonors including Jon Huntsman Jr and Apollo Global Management CEO Marc Rowan vowed to halt their donations to the university unless its president, Elizabeth Magill, resigned after the college hosted a Palestine Writes Literary Festival to which polarising figures such as Professor Marc Lamont Hill were invited.

Mr Hill was ousted from CNN in 2018 after calling for an end to what he said was Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians and supporting a “free Palestine from the river to the sea”.

Following the event, more than 4,000 people signed an open letter to Ms Magill, saying that “platforming of outright antisemitism without denunciation from the university is unacceptable”.

Organisers of the festival have denied that it embraced antisemitism.

At the time, the university disavowed the event, but supported its right for it to be held on campus, saying in a statement that “we unequivocally – and emphatically – condemn antisemitism as antithetical to our institutional values”.

The statement continued: “As a university, we also fiercely support the free exchange of ideas as central to our educational mission. This includes the expression of views that are controversial and even those that are incompatible with our institutional values.”

But in the wake of Hamas’ attack on Israel, which saw more than 1,400 Israelis killed and over 14,000 Palestinians killed in retaliatory airstrikes, many megadonors argued that the university’s response was not enough and urged fellow UPenn alumni to “close their checkbooks” until the institution’s leadership resigned.

Ms Magill later addressed the backlash, and condemned the attacks by Hamas on Israel, adding: “Hateful speech has no place at Penn. No place. I categorically condemn hateful speech that denigrates others as contrary to our values.”

Israel and Hamas announced that a deal, brokered by Qatar and the United States, had been reached to free 50 hostages during a four-day ceasefire.

Dozens of children and their mothers held captive in Gaza since Hamas’s brutal incursion into Israel on 7 October will be freed via Egypt, according to the agreement.