Antisemitic, anti-Israel vandals strike Squirrel Hill and Oakland
Israel at warAntisemitic or anti-Israel activity is reported every day

Antisemitic, anti-Israel vandals strike Squirrel Hill and Oakland

Posters of the hostages held captive by Hamas continue to be torn down; a We Stand With Israel sign is set on fire

Two individuals took down posters of the Hamas hostages in Squirrel Hill on Nov. 27 (Photo courtesy of Julie Paris)
Two individuals took down posters of the Hamas hostages in Squirrel Hill on Nov. 27 (Photo courtesy of Julie Paris)

Every few days, Dovid Jacobowitz and some friends plaster dozens of posters depicting the hostages abducted by Hamas throughout the Squirrel Hill business district.

Within 24 hours, they are all torn down, he said.

“It doesn’t matter how well we glue them or how high we put them or anything like that — they get ripped off,” said Jacobowitz, who grew up in Israel and moved to the United States in 2010 after he completed service in the Israel Defense Forces. “We even saw people designing missing dog signs that look exactly like the missing children signs — the same logo, same colors, same everything. They just rip them off or they deface them every day.”

It happened again on the night of Nov. 27. Approximately 50 posters that Jacobowitz and others hung the previous day — in advance of a neighborhood vigil supporting the children and adults still held captive in Gaza — were ripped down.

But this time, passersby took fairly clear photos of the vandals.

Shawn Brokos, director of community security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said that having photos of the perpetrators is important, regardless of whether their activity is considered criminal under the law.

“From a security perspective, the concern goes beyond tearing down flyers,” Brokos said. “Who are these individuals doing it? Are they associated with an anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish group that we should be aware of? From my perspective, it’s about intelligence gathering. What is the motivation of the individuals doing it? Can we get them identified?”

Brokos said she reported the incident to 911 as it was occurring, but by the time police arrived, the vandals were gone.

She has shared their photos with law enforcement.

The following day, Jacobowitz and his friends hung twice as many posters.

While he expects those to be removed as well, Jacobowitz said he will keep posting them.

“We will hang them until all the hostages are home,” he said.

His motivation is simple: to raise awareness.

“So that people are aware of what happened, that babies got kidnapped from their houses to be bargaining chips for terrorists,” he said. “I think that people need to know about that. And it’s very important that people know what’s happening because otherwise they might get the wrong idea and think that it’s a land dispute or some other argument, but it’s not. It’s people that murder parents and then kidnap the baby and then demand to get terrorists in return, as if it was a commodity. And that’s just not tolerable. We think that people should be aware of it. Hanging the signs is one way to do it.”

Antisemitic graffiti on the railing of a bridge in Oakland (Photo courtesy of Shawn Brokos)
Brokos said the Federation receives reports of antisemitic or anti-Israel activities every day. Last weekend, she said, someone set fire to a Squirrel Hill resident’s We Stand With Israel sign. And there were two reported incidents of graffiti: The phrase “Free Palestine” was painted on a street sign in Squirrel Hill, and the words “Good Jew = Dead Jew” were written on the railing of the bridge in Oakland that leads to Phipps Conservatory.

The Federation is working with the city’s graffiti task force to determine who is responsible for the graffiti, Brokos said.

She urges community members to contact the Federation (412-992-5229) or Zone 4 of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police (412-422-6520) if they see people ripping down hostage posters or vandalizing We Stand With Israel signs, or if they have information about the people in the photos. PJC

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

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