Posters of Israeli hostages were defaced at Williams College. The graffiti ‘supported violence against Israelis’

WILLIAMSTOWN — Williams College officials are investigating an incident in which posters calling for the return of Israeli hostages were defaced with graffiti that, “among other things, supported violence against Israelis.”

In a letter to the Williams community, college President Maud Mandel lamented the incident, which took place at the Paresky Center, a hub of student activity.

“Any defacement of posters is disrespectful, but the call for violence in this case is a breach of both college values and Williams policies,” Mandel wrote in the letter. “We have removed the defaced posters and are seeking information about the individuals responsible.”

Asked about the exact content of the graffiti, spokesperson Jim Reische said the college would not comment on the incident beyond what Mandel said in her letter.

A video of a woman tearing down Israeli hostage flyers in Great Barrington has gone viral

Hamas took about 240 hostages during their Oct. 7 attack that killed about 1,200 people, according to the Israeli government. In retaliation, Israel has vowed to eliminate the organization, launching airstrikes and a ground offensive in Gaza that have killed almost 19,000 Palestinians, with many wounded or displaced, Al Jazeera reported Friday.

About half the hostages, of various nationalities, were returned in an exchange during a cease-fire earlier this month, but hostilities have since resumed.

The posters have become a flashpoint for partisans on either side of the conflict in the Berkshires and nationwide, with pro-Palestine groups saying they ignore Israel’s atrocities, and pro-Israel groups saying that taking down or defacing a poster bearing the face of a hostage is inhumane.

A November video recording of a woman who was seen pulling down flyers of Israeli hostages in Great Barrington went viral.

Mandel said in her letter that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights put the onus on colleges to “bear responsibility for responding to incidents of discriminatory harassment that create a hostile environment.”

“It is possible, and arguably necessary, that we find ways to disagree passionately on topics like the Middle East conflict without descending into urging violence,” Mandel writes. “The college will continue to support programs that foster reflection, study and debate on such issues. But we will do so within a set of rules meant to ensure that everyone can live and learn here free from hostility and harassment.”

Since October, the college has had other controversial incidents stemming from the war.

Copies of the Oct. 18 edition of the Williams Record, which published an op-ed criticizing the Free Palestine movement, wound up “covered in dark red painted handprints,” on campus that night. “Signs with statements about the war in Israel and Palestine were hung throughout all three floors of Paresky Center and outside its lawn,” according to the Record.

Then, on Oct. 25, more than 100 students and community members demonstrated their solidarity with Palestine on campus, and called for the U.S. government to stop supporting Israel’s violence against Palestinians. Demonstrators said they had come together in part to combat the chilling effect on speaking out in support of Palestine.

Berkshire residents urge U.S. Rep. Richard Neal to support a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war

At a November demonstration calling for a cease-fire, outside the Pittsfield office of U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s, D-Springfield, second-year Williams College student Kaon Suh, who was initially hesitant to have her name in print, told The Eagle, “The majority of students on campus are very supportive of Palestine, it’s just that most people are scared of losing job opportunities, especially seniors.”

Suh also spoke to the October demonstration.

“I think what happened with the rally on Oct. 25 is there was a breaking point,” she said. “People were scared, but we decided we needed to speak up. We did have the rally, and there was like 100 people there.”

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.