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June 7, 2021 2:24 pm
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University of Michigan Jewish Group Decries ‘Hateful’ Anti-Israel Graffiti on Storied Campus Rock

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

An image of the vandalized rock at the University of Michigan, modified from footage posted by the group StopAntisemitism. Photo: Instagram screenshot

University of Michigan Hillel condemned on Sunday two recent incidents of “vulgar, hateful” anti-Israel vandalism that it said were attempts to “target” the campus Jewish group.

On Saturday morning, statements including “F**k Israel” and “Boycott Israel” were found on “The Rock,” a mass of Canadian limestone located at the corner of Washtenaw Avenue and Hillstreet, where it was placed in 1932 to commemorate the 200th birthday of George Washington.

“In recent days,” wrote University of Michigan Hillel, “our campus has been impacted by an escalation of vulgar, hateful, anti-Israel, and antisemitic messaging around campus, specifically on ‘The Rock’ and even at the Hillel building.”

“We call on our campus partners and leaders to show your support of our Jewish community and condemn these hateful messages,” the group said.

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The Hillel statement also described another example of anti-Jewish harassment, writing that “On Friday, we discovered red handprints painted in front out Hillel building.”

“We won’t allow these messages to intimidate us,” the statement said. “This is not a Jewish issue; it is a campus issue in which language and vandalism are escalating to unacceptable levels of hate and intimidation … We are better than this.

The Rock, according to the news outlet MLive, had previously been decorated in commemoration of Pride Month and has since been repainted to conceal the antisemitic messages, pictured of which were posted on Instagram by the group StopAntisemitism.org.

Tweeting about the incident on Saturday, UM Regent Jordan Acker said the graffiti “disgusted” him, saying, “Make no mistake, our campus is not and cannot be a haven for such hatred.”

“This has been an extraordinarily scary month for the Jewish community throughout the United States,” Acker told The Algemeiner on Monday. “That this could happen in the United States can’t be taken for granted.”
“Social media has become a real cesspool of antisemitic trolls,” he said, noting a surge of online incidents. “During the 2016 election, someone sent me a tweet of a picture of me superimposed on a train going to a concentration camp. These sorts of things are really shocking and really new. I think there’s been a resurgence both from the far right and the far left.”
“We have a real important obligation to teach about this — this ancient hatred — and to make sure people understand what it really looks like and what it is from the perspective of Jews,” he continued.

Because The Rock sits on property owned by the City of Ann Arbor, the incident will be investigated by the Ann Arbor Police Department, which told local reporters it does “not have any additional details regarding the incident.”

On Saturday, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation staff and UM students sometimes paint over offensive graffiti written on The Rock several times a day.

He denounced “all vulgar hateful messages, both on or near campus,” and thanked “those members of the community who stepped up to add more speech by repainting the rock.”

Editor’s note: this article was updated with further comments from University of Michigan regent Jordan Acker. 

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