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College memorial for synagogue massacre victims defaced with pro-Palestinian messages

'A chilling effect on the Jewish community'

A woman pays her respects at a memorial for the Tree of Life Synagogue's mass murder victims on Oct. 29 in Pittsburgh. A memorial for the victims at Southern California's Pomona College recently was vandalized. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

A mural at a Southern California college that pays tribute to the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue massacre has been defaced at least twice, the Jewish News Syndicate reported.

Just days after the Oct. 27 mass murder that took 11 lives at the Pittsburgh house of worship, the word "antisemitism" on the mural was erased; the phrase had read "Antisemitism exists. Acknowledge it," the outlet said.

Later, the memorial was vandalized with the phrase "Palestine exists. Acknowledge it" along with a painted Palestinian flag, the Syndicate reported.


The Claremont Independent noted that Walker Wall is considered a free-speech spot where messages are continually painted over with new ones.

What did students have to say?

"I find it frustrating that all Jewish issues have become so politicized on our campus," student Sam Lushtak — a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, a well-known Jewish fraternity — told the outlet. "Students feel like they can't be active as Jews, even with something as simple as having Shabbat, without being forced into getting involved in politics, especially with this controversial issue that often gets very personal if you don't hold a certain narrow set of beliefs."

Lushtak added to the Syndicate: "It has a chilling effect on the Jewish community on a campus which prides itself on helping communities express themselves."

Student Hallie Goldstein added to the outlet that "aside from a handful of outraged Jewish students, nobody is talking about this. Not our administrations, not our school newspapers, not our campus minority groups; no one.'

"What stings the most is that whenever any other minority group is targeted in some way, all five of our colleges are buzzing with conversation, with statements of condemnation, with student-written articles, and with support resources," she added to the Syndicate. "However, it is [always] a double standard whenever Jews are the subject of a hate crime or discriminatory act."

Goldstein also told the outlet that despite the vandalism happening within "an extremely well-educated, bright, passionate university demographic, people aren't giving this hate crime the attention it deserves. To me, that solidifies the fact that most of these students do not truly believe anti-Semitism is a problem, when in fact it surrounds us everywhere, both in implicit and explicit ways."

What did Students for Justice in Palestine have to say?

"It has come to our attention that, in the past few days, a pro-Palestine statement was written over the 'antisemitism exists' piece on Walker Wall. The Claremont College's Students for Justice in Palestine does not condone derailing conversations about anti-semitism," the group said on its Facebook page. "We find this especially unacceptable given that the statement about anti-semitism has already been defaced once before, and was written in response to the Tree of Life mass shooting that occurred this past October. Furthermore, this act has perpetuated a false narrative that positions Palestinian people against, and outside of, the Jewish community. Jewish Palestinians exist."

Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine added that it "condemns all anti-semitism, and we stand proudly with our Jewish siblings." The Claremont Colleges include Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, and Pitzer College.

What did Pomona College have to say?

A Pomona College spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the Syndicate said.

What did a group that fights anti-Semitism have to say?

"All too frequently, Jewish students are blamed and targeted for harm with actions such as vandalism, harassment, and even assault, simply because of their presumed support for Israel," Tammi Rossman-Benjamin — founder and director for AMCHA, a group that documents and fights anti-Semitism — told the outlet. "And frighteningly, this is a perfect example."

She added to the Syndicate that "what makes matters worse is that while the anti-Semitism that comes from the extreme right is promptly acknowledged and condemned by university leaders, the anti-Israel anti-Semitism that comes from the extreme left, which is what we see a lot of on campus, is often excused as political speech and permitted."



(H/T: The College Fix)

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