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June 12, 2015 11:06 am

Northwestern University Rabbi Calls for Stronger Action After Latest Antisemitic Incident on Campus

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Northwestern University faced two antisemitic graffiti attacks in the last two months. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Northwestern University faced two antisemitic graffiti attacks in the last two months. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A rabbi at Northwestern University said the school must take serious action against antisemitism on campus, following yet another incident of anti-Jewish graffiti on university grounds this week.

“We need the university to be aware of it, conscientious that it is painful, and vigilant in terms of trying to educate the student population about the important of diversity and what these types of hurtful symbols mean,” Chabad Rabbi Dov Klein told the Algemeiner. “Whether it’s a symbol against the Jewish community, against the African American community [or] against the Arab community, these things are not tolerated.”

Construction workers on campus discovered the antisemitic vandalism on Monday morning at the construction site of the new Kellogg School of Management building, The Chicago Tribune reported. The daubed images included a swastika which was painted over by construction personnel later that day.

The incident was the second case of antisemitic vandalism to take place at Northwestern in the past two months. In April, university police found a swastika drawn on the wall of a study lounge in the school’s  library.

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A menorah on campus, owned and opeated by Chabad, has also been vandalized a total of three times over the past year and a half.

Despite the string of antisemitic attacks at Northwestern, where the student government in February passed a resolution to boycott Israel, Rabbi Klein said he believes each incident to be isolated.

He called on the university’s administration to continue educating students about hate symbols and diversity, and said the school should address antisemitic graffiti and behavior during orientation for incoming freshmen.

“Bring up the issues of antisemitism and what these types of symbols – whether they’re targeted to the Jewish community or other communities – what those symbols represent, what they mean [and] how hurtful they can be,” he said. “Many times the antisemitic, anti-Israel, anti-Jewish part of that is not necessarily highlighted. I think for this upcoming year they should highlight that a bit more.”

Rabbi Klein said he was unsure if officials would discover the motive behind the most recent graffiti attack, saying, “we don’t know if this was somebody having a goofy time or this is really an expression of hate against the Jewish community at Northwestern.” He added that the likelihood of finding the perpetrator is “close to zero.”

Northwestern University boasts a strong and vibrant Jewish community, according to Klein. The rabbi said he does not think Jewish students feel targeted on campus, but that the antisemitic attacks “get disturbing after a while” and are also hurtful.

“In the campus environment many times people do stupid things,” he said. “There are people out there that hate and people who don’t understand how painful it is for Jewish students or a Jewish person to see a swastika, which represents the environment of antisemitic and hatefulness toward the Jewish community.”

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