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Penn Hillel vandalized day before ‘Palestine Writes’ literary festival

The event has been widely criticized by Jewish organizations for giving platforms at the University of Pennsylvania to antisemitic speakers.

Vandalism at Hillel on the University of Pennsylvania, Sept. 21, 2023. Source: StopAntisemitism/X (taken by Sydney Freedman).

Multiple people told the University of Pennsylvania student newspaper that the campus Hillel was vandalized on Thursday morning—the day before the start of a controversial “Palestine Writes” literary festival—as Orthodox students were praying inside the building.

“I noticed that the lobby was completely trashed—one of the podiums was smashed, one of the tables was smashed. There was stuff everywhere,” a Jewish student who was going to Shacharit services told The Daily Pennsylvanian.

A fellow student who was in the building to pray said the vandal came into the building and “immediately started smashing things, yelling ‘F**k the Jews’ and ‘They killed JC,’ ” the student paper reported. (The latter is apparently a reference to Jesus.)

A number of Jewish groups have denounced the literary festival that begins on Sept. 22.

“Penn’s inaction here speaks volumes,” said Liora Rez, CEO of StopAntisemitism, in a statement provided to JNS.

“Their position not only fosters an environment that’s conducive to increased antisemitism and bigotry but also highlights a troubling double standard,” she added. “If this conference was targeting any other marginalized group, it would likely be canceled.”

University president Liz Magill, who has been asked to move the event off campus, declined to intervene, reported Jewish Insider.

“The incident at Penn this morning is outrageous. The administration must swiftly condemn this antisemitism and do more to protect Jewish students. It is no surprise to see Jews attacked on campus the same week Penn is hosting a radical anti-Israel hate fest,” said Jacob Baime, CEO of Israel on Campus Coalition.

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