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September 16, 2019 2:32 pm

Jewish Student Group Target of Vandalism at Lehigh University

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

The P.C. Rossin College of Engineering & Applied Science at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Photo: Clara.cogito via Wikicommons.

A Jewish student group at a Pennsylvania university was the target of an apparent act of vandalism.

According to local paper The Morning Call, Lehigh University is investigating the theft of a banner reading, “Office of Jewish Student Life,” outside the university’s Jewish Student Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Rabbi Steven Nathan was quoted saying, “It would be easy to say, ‘Oh this was just a prank.’ But why did they choose our building?”

Citing a general atmosphere of rising antisemitism, Nathan said, “To me this is some sort of intent there to send a subtle message like, ‘We want to rattle you a little bit. We don’t necessarily think you belong here or we want to make you feel a little bit uncomfortable.’”

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The university’s vice president for equity and community, Donald Outing, sent a school-wide email saying, “Lehigh University will not tolerate acts of prejudice, discrimination, or property destruction directed at religious groups, just as we would not tolerate such acts based on race, gender, culture, immigration status, or sexual orientation.”

“The faculty, staff, and students of Lehigh University are committed to building a campus culture that embraces all people and reflects a commitment to welcoming and celebrating the diversity of our community,” he added.

The area has been the site of a series of antisemitic incidents in recent years. In 2016, local high school students were caught giving Hitler salutes and drawing swastikas. In 2017, a student received antisemitic messages online, including Holocaust imagery. And in 2018, a passing driver yelled, “I hope all you Jews die,” at a Jewish funeral.

Earlier this year, a local man was arrested for threatening Jews, Muslims and African Americans online. One image he posted showed him aiming an automatic rifle at Jewish worshipers.

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