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June 25, 2015 3:53 pm

Northwestern Rabbi Decries ‘Anger Toward Jews’ on Campus After Third Antisemitic Graffiti Incident This Year

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Antisemitic graffiti was discovered on the day of commencement at Northwestern University. Photo: Twitter, Daily Northwestern.

Antisemitic graffiti was discovered on the day of commencement at Northwestern University. Photo: Twitter, Daily Northwestern.

A Northwestern University Rabbi on Thursday denounced expressions of hate toward Jews on campus after the third antisemitic attack this year was reported at the school.

Staff at Northwestern’s Ryan Field, where the university held its commencement ceremony, found graffiti that included swastikas and another Nazi symbol scrawled on the windows of the stadium’s North Tower soon before the ceremony began on June 19.

The vandalism marked the second antisemitic episode at the university this month. The previous incident occurred two weeks ago when anti-Jewish graffiti was found spray-painted at a construction site on campus.

The defacement was “obviously a strong statement of hate against the Jewish community” and “a statement of anger,” said Rabbi Dov Klein, of the school’s Chabad center, in an interview with The Algemeiner. “Unfortunately, people have a lot of anger toward the Jewish people and they come up with a little bit of a window of openings to express it.”

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“I’m going to assume that the person is angry. Angry at the Jewish community. Angry at Israel,” Rabbi Klein continued. “It doesn’t seem to be a dumb act and what better way to express that anger than at graduation… These windows open up and until somebody is found or until some strong actions are taken, that window will remain open.”

Despite his concern, Rabbi Klein said it was unusual to have incidents of antisemitic graffiti in such close proximity to one another at the university. He noted that the local police department is “very concerned” about what is happening on university grounds, and that they are still unsure if it is one person or a group that is behind the attacks.

Rabbi Klein wondered why the perpetrator had directed so much apparent anger against Jews.

“For me, I want to know why are you doing this, what’s bothering you, where’s the anger coming from?” he said. “I would explain to the person that this is unacceptable behavior.”

“I would tell [the perpetrator] that I would like to understand why they’re doing it, I would like to explain [to them] what the symbols mean and represent,” he continued. “We want to know if they were just being goofy or making a statement of some sort and what that statement is and how we can address it – the person [and] the anger.”

Northwestern’s student government in February passed a resolution calling for the boycott of Israel, which Klein believes may be connected to the string of antisemitic attacks. A heated debate about boycotting Israel on campus “opens up the Pandora’s box,” he said.

“A week or two after it passed you see graffiti and stuff go up,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s directly related to BDS but, I mean, after several incidents you have to think, is there a group of people who express tremendous anger during this BDS movement or debate that took place and their anger was against Israel or against Jews. It’s definitely a concern that I have.”

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  • TJL

    It is shocking that the University president sees all of the activity re: BDS movement etc as free speech and cannot bring himself to even consider a casual link to the BDS movement and other radical Anti Jew and Anti Israel groups on campus and these racist actions

  • judorebbe

    With all due respect to the Rabbi, it’s not about “anger toward Jews” … It’s centuries old Jew-hatred. Plain and simple.

    • Paul Whittaker

      I think anger at the Jewish community is entirely justified and rational, and it’s absurd to complain about some graffiti while ignoring the situation in Palestine. Get your priorities in order, and stop blaming BDS. Pathetic.