When Jarod Farn-Guillette was early to pick his daughter up from Hebrew school on Nov. 12, he walked around the neighborhood of Congregation Beth El Bangor.
While on his walk, he came across multiple pro-Hamas, antisemitic flyers near the synagogue at 183 French St.
One flyer features a man holding an AK-47, with paragliders in the background and a saying of “Palestine will win.” Another flyer talks about Palestine martyrs in the “cemeteries of the Zionist enemy” and lists names of dead Hamas members.
“A picture of an AK-47 does not necessarily say, ‘I want peace,’” Farn-Guillette said.
The flyers’ appearance come amid a wave of antisemitic incidents across the United States, which have increased nearly 400 percent since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, the Anti-Defamation League reported. And while Maine has not seen a similar rise — the state has had six such incidents in 2023, according to the ADL, tied with the total number seen in 2021 — members of Bangor’s Jewish community have been bracing for potential conflicts.
“We’ve been very worried in recent weeks about security at the synagogue,” Beth El Rabbi Sam Weiss said. “It was very concerning. It made us feel unsafe.”
Farn-Guillette called Weiss and the Bangor police, who took the posters. The department is actively investigating the posters, Sgt. Jason McAmbley said.
One flyer had the pro-Palestine saying “from the river to the sea.” The saying comes from the 1960s, before Hamas was founded, and talks about the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the New York Times reported.
“That is calling for genocide against Jews,” Farn-Guillette said. “Full stop.”
He had to explain to his daughter what the flyers meant and comfort her. He grew up in rural Calais and never experienced hate or antisemitism like this, Farn-Guillette said. He and his family are scared of future antisemitic attacks.
After discovering the flyers near Beth El, Farn-Guillette said he checked around the other synagogues in town but did not find any other flyers.
The U.S. has also seen a 216 percent increase in reports of Islamophobia bias incidents and requests for help in just over a month since the Oct. 7 attack, the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported. That increase is comparing 2022 with 2023 reports.
No matter where the posters are, there should not be pro-Hamas flyers in town, Farn-Guillette said.
“I want [the community] to know that terrorism is bad and that Hamas are terrorists,” Weiss said. “We hope for a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. We oppose people who don’t want that, including Hamas.”
At least one flyer featured the logo of Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland, an organization that advocates for a socialist state, says it is anti-racist, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist and wants to expel a “Zionist ambassador” from Ireland, according to its website.