(November 29, 2018 / JNS) Swastikas have been discovered on college campuses nationwide over the past few weeks.
In total, 77 swastika incidents have occurred in 2018, according to the AMCHA Initiative.
A swastika painted in a tunnel connecting chemistry buildings at the University of Illinois, Champaign, was discovered last week.
It is being investigated as a “criminal-damage incident,” according to police, which remarked that the Nazi symbol can “create an environment where our campus community members feel targeted or unsafe.”
According to Investigators, it is unknown if the incident is connected to white nationalist organization Identity Evropa, which canvassed on campus around then.
The Illinois chapter of Identity Evropa held a fraternal meetup, flyering the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and visiting its historic campus.
(Champaign, IL) pic.twitter.com/ilXHVkisBq
— IDENTITY EVROPA (@IdentityEvropa) November 19, 2018
Identity Evropa denied involvement. “Our activity is strictly limited to the Identity Evropa stickers and posters on this campus,” spokesperson Sam Harrington told JNS. “We are committed to peaceful displays of defiance against globalism, and the advocacy of violence or supremacy is not permitted in our organization.”
“We are continuing to investigate this as a criminal-damage incident,” said university spokesperson Pat Wade, according to The News-Gazette. “Although we investigate these as criminal-damage incidents, we certainly recognize that the content of the message can create an environment where our campus community members feel targeted or unsafe.”
He added that “we are here to help foster a welcoming campus community, and we always encourage anyone who feels unsafe to let us know so we can address their concerns.”
University of Illinois Hillel executive director Erez Cohen told JNS about the support the Jewish community on campus has received since not just the discovery of the swastika, but also in the aftermath of the deadliest attack in American Jewish history.
“Our staff and students are empowered and strengthened by the support we have received from the greater community since the Pittsburgh shooting and through the discovery of Swastikas last week,” he said. “We received an out-pour of calls, emails and letters of support of the Jewish community in Champaign-Urbana.”
“This signals to us that malicious acts of individuals do not represent the true nature of the University of Illinois community,” added Cohen. “Hillel is working with the authorities and the University of Illinois to ensure that our students are always safe and proud. We will continue to grow our vibrant Jewish community on campus.”
University of Illinois Chabad Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel reacted to this incident occurring just before the Festival of Lights.
“The anti-Semitic vandalism is both shocking and disgusting,” he told JNS. “This incident has shaken all of us, it is particularly concerning that on a campus as wonderful as ours, this can be happening.”
“As Chanukah approaches this Sunday, we must stand as a light against the darkness of ignorance, hatred and discrimination and we will not be cowed – Chabad’s menorah lighting ceremony on Sunday at 5 p.m. on the Main Quad will be bigger and prouder than ever,” he continued. “We invite all of the administration, faculty, students and the entire [community] to join the ceremony and stand with us in support of the Jewish community, against anti-Semitism and hatred.”
‘Fear, consternation, frustration, disappointment’
University of Illinois students and alumni reacted to JNS about the incident.
“We need to be vigilant because our campuses are under increasing anti-Semitic attack from white-supremacist and neo-Nazi groups,” said Elan Karoll, a senior and executive board member of Illini Public Affairs Committee. “Pro-Israel and Jewish campus leaders need to create strategies to combat these hate groups. Our agenda cannot be exclusively focused on SJP and the far-left Israel-haters anymore.”
“It’s definitely sad to hear about this,” said alum Solomon Lowenstein. “There have been previous swastikas drawn on campus before, and it’s always unfortunate to see.”
“With the shooting in Pittsburgh, you’d think that things would change, but if anything, it seems like anti-Semitic activities have worsen,” he continued. “The thing that bothers me the most is that all of these acts are done in secret. I’d rather have a discussion with someone who has these feelings and try to understand where they’re coming from. It just seems extremely cowardly. My hope is that we can settle our differences through dialogue and not through anonymous hate speech.”
“This is just the latest example of the outrageous wave of swastikas we’ve seen across the country,” Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, and a daughter of Holocaust survivors, told JNS. “This hate has no place on campus, and is yet another reason why the University of Illinois should take action to address student concerns about anti-Semitism.”
The University of Illinois incident preceded a Jewish Columbia University professor discovering on Wednesday her office vandalized with two red swastikas and the slur “Yid” spray painted on the walls.
Additionally, three swastikas have been found over the past couple weeks at Cornell University.
“I am sure there’s a lot of fear, consternation, frustration, disappointment, all those negative feelings associated with being targeted in the place you live, the place you are working and the place you are striving to learn about yourself and become a citizen of the world,” Cornell Hillel President Sasha Chanko told the Cornell Daily Sun.
Cornell Hillel announced on Nov. 15 that a bias reports filed, and it is cooperating with campus authorities.
Moreover, at Stanford University, police discovered a swastika on a concert-hall piano.
“Particularly in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre just a few weeks ago, it’s critical to state that this symbol of hatred has absolutely no place in the Stanford community,” said Stanford’s president, Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “We reject the ignorance and intolerance behind its appalling appearance on our campus.”
“Anti-Semitism is the most ancient hatred, and must be opposed wherever it appears. We appreciate that Marc Tessier Lavigne, President of Stanford University, reacted quickly to condemn it strongly,” Stanford Hillel director Jessica Kirschner told JNS. “Incidents like this are disturbing to the whole Stanford community, especially the Jewish community here on campus, but we are not frightened by cowardly acts like this.”
“We know that we belong here, and actions like this only motivate us more strongly to be active and visible in our community, and to continue to build partnerships and solidarity with other groups feeling vulnerable at this time,” she added.
The suspects have yet to be found.
A swastika was also sighted last week on a mural at Duke University that memorialized the 11 Jewish victims of the Pittsburgh mass shooting.
“Obviously, a terrible and unfortunate event. That bridge is public so very well may have been a local Durham resident and not a student,” a Duke alum, who asked not to be named, told JNS. “As of a couple years ago, the SJP chapter on campus was not very strong so I’m not too worried about the campus in the near future.”
“The dramatic proliferation of swastika graffiti on university campuses is alarming. University administrators and faculty must take this seriously and act in both word and deed,” B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS. “With anti-Semitism on the rise nationally, Jewish students need to be assured that they can live their student lives without harassment and intimidation.”