Campus Watch May 29, 2024

A roundup of incidents, good and bad, happening on school campuses.
May 29, 2024

Shots Fired at Toronto Jewish Girls Elementary School

Multiple shots were reportedly fired at Toronto, Canada’s Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School, an Orthodox Jewish girls school, on the morning of May 25.

The Toronto Star reported that, according to police, suspects fired at the school at around 4:50 a.m. and then fled in a dark vehicle. There were no injuries but there was damage to the school. Police have not yet concluded if it was a hate crime, but Rabbi Yaacov Vidal — the school’s principal — told The Star that he considers “this a hate crime. I don’t see any other reason why this would occur.” Vidal also said that the school will try to beef up security.

A rally was held outside the school on May 27 denouncing the shooting as an act of hate. “It was a deliberate attempt to spread fear across our entire Jewish community — to make us cower and hide who we are,” UJA Federation of Greater Toronto Chief Program Officer Daniel Held told rallygoers, according to the CBC. “But as you can see here today, the attackers completely failed. We are more united than ever. We are more committed than ever to support each other. We are more determined than ever to fight antisemitism wherever it happens.”

“Jew Die” Graffiti Found at Australian Jewish Day School

Graffiti stating “Jew die” was found on a fence at Mount Scopus Memorial College, a Jewish day school in Melbourne, Australia, on May 25.

The school’s principal, Dan Sztrajt, told ABC Radio Melbourne that he hopes that the graffiti was a one-time occurrence since “we have so many students at this school who came here because of antisemitism at non-Jewish schools and I don’t want them to start feeling that it’s no longer safe for them even here in what has to be …  one of the most secure institutions in the country.”

Anti-Defamation Commission Chairman Dr. Dvir Abramovich told Sky News Australia, “This is hatred, pure and simple, and as a former student of Mount Scopus College, I am shattered and sickened by this open call to murder Jews that would make the barbaric terrorists of Hamas very proud … Such despicable words of hate and violence, aimed directly at children, are dangerous, especially during this atmosphere in which antisemitism is at an all-time high is a terrifying reality that has creeped into our daily lives.”

Hundreds of Pro-Palestinian Protesters Walkout During Harvard Commencement Ceremony

Hundreds of students walked out during Harvard University’s commencement ceremony on May 23 as they chanted “Free, Free Palestine,” the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The walkout came after Harvard determined that 13 students involved in the since-removed pro-Palestinian encampment on campus were not eligible to receive their diplomas due to their conduct; some protesters during the walkout chanted, “Let them walk,” per the AP.

A student speaker, Shruthi Kumar, addressed the 13 students in her speech by saying, “I am deeply disappointed by the intolerance for freedom of speech and the right to civil disobedience on campus” to applause, the AP reported.

Harvard Chabad Rabbi Accuses Commencement Speaker of Using Antisemitic Trope During Speech

Harvard Chabad Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi is accusing the university’s featured commencement speaker, journalist Maria Ressa, of promulgating an antisemitic trope during her speech.

The Harvard Crimson reported that Zarchi confronted Ressa, the CEO of the media company Rappler, after she said she had been “called antisemitic by power and money because they want power and money.” Zarchi told the Crimson that he had asked that Ressa provide a public clarification on the matter, and when it was clear she wasn’t going to he left, though he acknowledged he couldn’t hear her response. Ressa posted on X on May 26 that her comment “was about how Big Tech and people in power seek to divide us, often for their own gain (the antecedent is several sentences ahead). Still, if my words caused offense, I apologize.” Ressa also claimed on X that she did provide a clarification to Zarchi but wasn’t sure if he heard it, per the Crimson.

Pro-Palestinian Protesters Call on Drexel, UC Santa Cruz to End Ties with Hillel

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Drexel University in Pennsylvania as well as UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) are calling on their respective universities to end ties with Hillel.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported that Jews Against White Supremacy UCSC had posted on social media that “Hillel receives millions from organizations financed by the Israeli apartheid state whose existence is reliant on Palestinian death” and the Drexel Palestine Coalition accused Hillel of being “a global zionist campus organization, whose primary purpose, funding and operations are to facilitate birthright trips to Occupied Palestine.”

Hillel International President and CEO Adam Lehman told JTA that it’s “deeply antisemitic” to target Hillel.

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