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November 16, 2017 6:27 pm

Swastika Found at University of Michigan Hours After Divestment Vote Against Israel

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Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Photo: Ken Lund.

A swastika was found at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (U-M) on Wednesday afternoon, hours after the school’s student government called on university leaders to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

The swastika — found in a men’s bathroom stall — was discovered by Sammy Lawrence, a Jewish senior at U-M who reported the antisemitic mark to the Division of Public Safety and Security, The Michigan Daily reported. A follow Jewish senior, Ryan Scheidt, also saw the swastika.

The university was contacted about the incident shortly before 3 p.m. — some twelve hours after the Central Student Government (CSG) voted to endorse a divestment resolution that accused Israel of practicing “apartheid” against Palestinians.

A spokesperson for the school to The Algemeiner that they “do not have any suspects in the incident nor do we know an approximate time during which it occurred.”

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Scheidt — one of the students who saw the swastika — spoke to the Daily about a possible connection between the appearance of the mark and the CSG vote.

“I think if it did happen after this morning’s vote, I think that’s possible,” Scheidt told the paper. “I was fearful last night of the passing of the vote.”

According to the Daily, “Scheidt said he had felt he had a safe space on campus as a Jewish student until now, and he worried the #UMDivest vote would cause more anti-Semitic acts on campus like in the past.”

“I was fearful,” Scheidt added, “and if it was drawn this morning after the vote, I hope it has nothing to do with divestment, but it would scare me if it did.”

A study conducted by the monitoring group AMCHA Initiative in 2016 found that divestment resolutions are linked to an increase in antisemitic activity on campus.

“In 2016, the student governments of 10 schools in the study considered anti-Israel divestment resolutions,” the researchers noted. “Of these 10 schools, eight showed the largest increase in anti-Semitism from 2015 to 2016. Conversely, seven of the nine schools in the 2015 study that considered or voted on divestment resolutions showed a marked decrease in anti-Semitic activity in the first half of 2016 when no divestment resolution was considered. The two schools that did not decrease in anti-Semitic activity hosted discussions and votes on divestment.”

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