LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A national nonprofit that fights antisemitism, had three of its billboards in Louisville vandalized.

What You Need To Know

  •  The non-profit JewBelong erected billboards condemning Hamas in Metro Louisville in November 2023

  •  JewBelong's co-founder tells Spectrum News 3 billboards were vandalized

  •  One billboard was defaced with graffitti that says "Free Palestine"

  • Two other billboards were torn down

Vandals hit the billboards on Interstate 65 and a third on the Watterson Expressway.

Somebody climbed up and defaced the billboard with graffiti that says “Free Palestine.”

“The fact that it happened makes it very clear that we need to keep going with this very important message creating awareness for the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization and to create awareness for growing antisemitism in the United States. So, the fact that it happened is exactly why we need to keep going,” said Stacy Stuart, the co-founder of jawboning .

Founded in 2017, Jewbelong says its mission is to bring “joyous Judaism” to the many Jewish people who are disengaged from the religion. The billboards originally went up in Louisville in November. They are part of the organization’s national campaign. The billboards are located across the country.

“The message that we are sharing ‘Let’s be clear: Hamas is your problem too’ is really meant to bring education and awareness to the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization and many people simply don’t realize that.” Stuart explained.

A closer look at the graffiti on a billboard from the group Jewbelong. (Spectrum News 1/David Williams)

Stuart said the billboards cost thousands of dollars to produce and install. Two other billboards were also taken down. They plan to replace all three.

“We are changing it to ‘I need to be able to tell my children I did not stay silent.’ We are simply changing the message because both messages are really important. The message about Hamas being a terrorist organization and the message about the extreme importance of speaking out for the Jewish community at this very difficult time,” Stuart explained.

The new billboards should be up soon.

Stuart said the organization has filed a police report with the Louisville Metro Police Department. 

In the meantime, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) responded to the “Free Palestine” movement.

Rabbi Toby Mane with RAC said in a statement, “Anti-Israeli government or pro-Palestine comments in and of themselves are not antisemitic, though you may disagree with them or find them uncomfortable.” She added that advocating for Palestinian self-determination is not considered problematic to her organization. 

Stuart said what the Jewish community needs is for people to speak out about antisemitism—to stand up for Jewish neighbors and check in on them.