Anti-Israel stickers were affixed to the ATM in Swampscott last week. (The hate speech has been intentionally blurred.)/COURTESY PHOTO

Anti-Israel stickers posted at Swampscott bank; police identify a suspect

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Anti-Israel stickers posted at Swampscott bank; police identify a suspect

Anti-Israel stickers were affixed to the ATM in Swampscott last week. (The hate speech has been intentionally blurred.)/COURTESY PHOTO

SWAMPSCOTT – Swampscott Police have confirmed that they have identified a suspect who they believe placed anti-Israel and anti-American stickers at an ATM machine at Eastern Bank’s Vinnin Square branch last week.

“We have a person who has been identified,” said Swampscott Detective Michael Chandler, who noted that video of the incident was shared by the bank with the police. To date, no arrests have been made. Chandler declined to say if the person would be prosecuted, or what kind of charges could be brought against the person.

On Friday morning, customers using the bank’s ATM lobby machine were greeted with three stickers declaring, “Free, Free Palestine!” “Free Palestine, From the River to the Sea,” and another sticker that likened the police to the Israel Defense Forces. “They need to go!” the sticker read. The hate speech was written on United States Postal Service stickers.

“‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ is a cry for Israel to not exist,” said ADL New England Interim Regional Director Ron Fish. “It is calling for a Palestinian state that extends from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea – effectively erasing and destroying the entire Jewish state. Slogans like this are not about peace or justice.”

Andrea Goodman, an Eastern Bank spokeswoman said the company had contacted Swampscott police, but declined to describe specific details of the investigation. She said Eastern Bank does not tolerate hate and hate speech. “We condemn all forms of hate, antisemitism, discrimination and prejudice,” she said in a statement. “We took swift and immediate action to look into this incident and are working with the authorities to address it. The items defacing our ATM have been removed, and we reached out to the customers who were impacted by this incident and continue to provide support to affected colleagues.”

Rabbi Yossi Lipsker said the phrase “From the river to the sea,” is a call for Israel’s destruction. “I am shocked that this sick behavior has surfaced in our peaceful, tolerant town. I hope that the perpetrator – once caught – will be charged with a serious hate crime and swiftly brought to justice,” said Lipsker, who runs the main branch of Chabad of the North Shore just a mile from the bank. “Hate mongers cannot be allowed to get away with calling for the genocide of an entire people. We are so much better than this. This is America. This is not who we are.”

Swampscott Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald condemned the stickers that were posted at the bank and called it hate. “We stand behind our Jewish families and all those that are feeling the effects of antisemitism,” he said. “We have seen such a rise of hate and frankly, it is really important for us now to really stand together, and make sure that we collectively support Israel and all of those families that are suffering because of those horrific attacks. We are praying for the hostages and the safe return of family members that are in harm’s way.

“Any kind of hate in Swampscott is awful. And we know we have hate in Swampscott, and we know we have it in every community. And when we see these signs of hate we need to stand up together and just acknowledge it, and talk about it and help folks understand that there’s no place for that kind of hate.”

In Marblehead, anti-Israel speech was found last week along the town’s rail trail, near the Tower School. It accused Israel of being an apartheid state, and endorsed the BDS movement. Tower Head of School Todd Eveleth called it “hate speech,” and denounced the act. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure that our children understand that this is hate speech and they’re never part of something like that,” he said. Θ

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