The Hillel at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst was vandalized with the word “Palestine” written in Arabic on April 21. The graffiti was drawn with red spray-paint on the front of the building.
UMass Hillel wrote in a Facebook post that it had been in contact the university and local police over the matter. “This cowardly act of hatred towards the Jewish community amidst a time of global crisis and on Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, is reprehensible,” it wrote. “Our UMass Jewish community is resilient and strong, and in the face of this hate we will only deepen our commitment to empowering students to build a vibrant community based on values of love, respect, justice and peace.”
UMass Amherst Student Government Association (SGA) President Rachel Ellis condemned the graffiti in an email to the community. “While support for the Palestinian people and belief in their right to have their own country is completely legitimate and have the right to be voiced through our First Amendment, this act of vandalism was clearly an act of hatred toward the Jewish community during this time of crisis,” she wrote “The SGA will not stand for intolerance, hate crimes, or vandalism of any kind.”
UMass student Stephanie Margolis, who is also the New England high school coordinator for StandWithUs High School, similarly wrote in a Facebook post that while it’s fine to support the Palestinian people, she has “seen, especially at UMass, an unfortunate choice to utilize supporting Palestine as a way to put forth anti-Semitic beliefs. Acts like these only polarize the world more, which helps no one.” She added: “I am truly sad that some people choose to act upon their hatred of my people, of Jews, in manners like this rather than look to have nuanced discourse which could lead to coexistence or even peace in the future.”
Anti-Defamation League New England Regional Director Robert Trestan said in a statement to the Journal, “Deliberately entering the UMass Amherst campus, which is currently closed to students, to deface the Hillel building is reprehensible. This attempt to intimidate Jewish life on campus is a cowardly act of intimidation which should be condemned by all.” Read the article here.