Billboard intended to raise awareness for Israeli hostages draws heated reaction

Lauren Glassberg Image
Monday, November 13, 2023
Billboard displaying Israeli hostages draws split, heated reaction
Lauren Glassberg is in Hudson Square, Manhattan with the story.

HUDSON SQUARE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Posters of missing Israeli hostages have been up since the deadly attack by Hamas last month.

Many of them get torn down by some supporters of Palestine soon after.

A giant billboard in Hudson Square meant to make people stop, think and remember the Israelis kidnapped has instead led to heated discussion.

"I put up posters in my neighborhood like so many New Yorkers and was pretty shocked to see someone taking my poster down just days later," said Michelle Copelman, who put up the billboard. "So, I committed to doing something bigger."

That "something bigger" happened to be a billboard campaign, which she was able to raise enough money for in just 36 hours.

The signage features the faces of the youngest victims.

"Hopefully everyone who drives by and sees their faces can go home and stay connected and open up a conversation," she said.

But instead of building awareness, the billboard has drawn more questions.

Questions raised over the omission of Palestinian victims spilled from the car to the street - a clear demonstration of how divided people are about what's happening in the Middle East, and how high emotions are running.

While Copelman was discussing the billboard with Eyewitness News a family drove by and raised concerns, asking, "Why can't you put Palestinian kids next to these kids?"

"It's not fair," they said.

A headed discussion is one thing, hate crimes are another and they're on the rise.

"We need the public to step forward," said Governor Kathy Hochul during a meeting Monday about combatting hate. "If you've been violated, you've been harassed, physically, verbally, you have to let us know so we can step up and protect you. The increase of antisemitic crimes is up 214 percent since Oct. 7."

But Copelman hopes that by keeping these larger-than-life images for all to see, people will tap into compassion instead of hate.

"It doesn't take away from the pain and anguish and the very grief that the other side is feeling," said Copelman.

ALSO READ | Community rallies in support of café owner after workers walk out in protest over conflict in Gaza

Lucy Yang has more on a Manhattan community's reaction after cafe workers walked out on the job.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More Manhattan news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.