Colleges in Kansas, New York hit with antisemitic graffiti

Antisemitic graffiti found at universities in Syracuse, New York and Kansas.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

Two antisemitic incidents involving graffiti recently occurred at US college campuses, continuing an upswing in disturbing hateful acts that have plagued institutions of higher education this year.

On Tuesday, Syracuse University’s student newspaper, The Daily Orange, reported that an antisemitic message was recently graffitied on a whiteboard hanging on the door of a student living in the campus’ Brewster Hall residence facility.

According to the paper, both local and state police have been contacted about the incident by the university’s Department of Public Safety.

In another incident reported by The University Daily Kansan on Tuesday, a swastika was graffitied on a sidewalk near the Chabad House of the University of Kansas (KU).

Discovered by a student, the graffiti was promptly reported to the university’s Office of Civil Rights & Title IX by interim Hillel director Bailey Nakelsky.

Later, a KU Facilities Services crew cleaned up the sidewalk, removing the graffiti.

“I was able to file the report on behalf of the student, and then that puts the incident in the hands of the civil rights office, and we actually try to stay out of the investigation so that it stays unbiased,” Nakelsky told The University Daily Kansas, adding that she is grateful that the hateful message was quickly erased.

“That happened so swiftly, like, nobody could even go back and find it because they cleaned it up quickly, which means a lot to us,” Nakelsky continued.

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“In a place where that might take a long time to clean up, that leaves the Jewish community feeling vulnerable even longer, but the fact that the university acted immediately was a really nice testament to how seriously they took this.”

The incidents at Syracuse University and the University of Kansas come amid a nationwide surge in similar acts on college campuses across the US, where antisemitic incidents increased 41 percent last year.

Groups such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the AMCHA Initiative have monitored a significant increase in displays of both traditional antisemitism — discrimination against Jews based on religion or race — and anti-Zionism targeting Jewish students over their support for Israel.

This year, such incidents have caused alarm and raised concerns about the safety of Jewish students living there.

Back to back antisemitic incidents occurred on and near the University of California, Santa Cruz in May, for example.

That same month, an unidentified person used their own excrement to vandalize the walls of a University of California, San Diego residential bathroom with swastikas.

A few weeks earlier in April, Stanford University investigated two incidents that happened less than 10 days apart, following several others that occurred in the last year.

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More recently, an anti-Israel activist interrupted a convocation ceremony held by Harvard University, shouting, “Harvard supports, upholds, and invests in Israeli apartheid, and the oppression of Palestinians,” which he called “the real truth.”

This week, the University of Pennsylvania is preparing to host an event featuring a gamut of anti-Zionist activists who have promoted antisemitic tropes and called for violence against Israel. Set to take place from Sept. 22-24, the “‘Palestine Writes Literature Festival” is sponsored by the university’s Wolf Humanities Center — which is described on its social media as “Penn’s gateway to the humanities, where the public and academy celebrate their common stake in the thinking arts” — and Department of Cinema and Media Studies.

In response, the school’s Hillel chapter will hold a “Shabbat Together Event” on Friday to which all members of the community — both Jewish and non-Jewish — are invited.

The Hillel said in a recent open letter that it has three goals for the “Palestine Writes” event: a guarantee that Jewish students will not be forced to attend the festival against their will, the exclusion of speakers “who espouse explicit anti-Jewish hate,” and the removal of Penn branding from the event as well as the issuance of statements condemning the “antisemitic backgrounds” of certain speakers.

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