OPINION: Missing dog posters stay up, posters of kidnapped Jewish children do not

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OPINION: Missing dog posters stay up, posters of kidnapped Jewish children do not

The treatment of these posters tells us everything we need to know about where Jews fit in the hierarchy of the antisemitic mind, writes Alex Hearn.

Ripped posters of Hamas kidnap victims.
Ripped posters of Hamas kidnap victims.

There is a poster which is so dangerous that people in Britain and all over the world have been frantically removing it as quickly as possible wherever it appears.

You might wonder what image could provoke such a visceral reaction. Perhaps it is something so warped that it harms impressionable minds, or maybe it is something which could incite violence?

You may well have unwittingly walked past the remnants of these posters. I did on my way to a conference about fighting antisemitism, while other posters nearby remained untouched.

They are in fact ‘missing’ posters and this is the phenomenon of the missing ‘missing’ posters. The posters show images of kidnapped babies, children and family members, put up by people to raise awareness of their plight. Normal family pictures, just like the ones most people have in their phone. Everyday people who anyone can relate to, but with one thing in common: they are all Jewish.

Alex Hearn

As an Israeli said to me after the October 7th massacre about Hamas, ‘they don’t see us as human’. These images are like kryptonite to people who share that mindset, because they humanise Jews.

Missing dog posters stay up on one side of a lamppost, while posters of missing Jewish children on the other side are torn down. This tells us everything we need to know about where Jews fit in the hierarchy of the antisemitic mind.

These images aren’t just being removed, they are also being disfigured. One video in the US shows a woman with a large knife stabbing at the faces in a frenzy. Back in the UK, a man was filmed writing ‘coloniser’ on the image of a baby’s face, while elsewhere Hitler moustaches were drawn onto toddlers. These are the worst things they could think of to dehumanise babies as the concept of evil. And that is the story of antisemitism. ‘The Jews’ become a concept, symbolising whatever is evil at the time.

When confronted on film, not one person could give a rational explanation for removing the posters, because there isn’t one. A mother of two kidnapped children confronted someone pulling down their posters and he laughed — the joy of publicly breaking the taboo of antisemitism was too much for him to contain.

We live in a society where truth can be turned on its head, irrational thinking can become accepted norms and torturing babies to death can be ‘resistance’.

I made a video about the phenomenon of the missing ‘missing’ posters which went viral on TikTok. It was mass reported and removed, so the story of the missing ‘missing’ posters also went missing — digitally torn down.

Another aspect to this has been the partial failure by institutions to support Jewish citizens. Police officers in two parts of the UK and Germany have been filmed removing these posters, legitimising dehumanisation.

Meanwhile many people have turned into something akin to David Irving or Alex Jones after Sandy Hook, denying testimonies and the footage Hamas terrorists filmed on their GoPros. Instead they demand to see families suffer more pain by exposing the corpses of their loved ones. But that still wouldn’t stop their denial.

There is a familiarity with the taunting of Holocaust denial. As Primo Levi remembered being told by a death camp officer: ‘And even if some proof should remain and some of you survive, people will say that the events you describe are too monstrous to be believed: they will say they are the exaggerations of Allied propaganda and will believe us, who will deny everything, and not you.’

Dark truths from the Holocaust are now eerily identifiable in the antisemitism around us. We live in a society where truth can be turned on its head, irrational thinking can become accepted norms and torturing babies to death can be ‘resistance’.

There is a reason this piece is being published by a Jewish newspaper when it should have a wider audience. Publishing it is an act of bravery and defiance. Meanwhile it won’t only be Jews who suffer, as we have already seen from this hateful ideology. And extremists of all types will make hay from it.

The campaign to extinguish the memory of these hostages tells us exactly why they went missing in the first place. And the missing voices around them speaks volumes.

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