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USC Hillel Vandalized

The Journal obtained an email sent out by the Hillel to the rest of the community explaining that “a window next to our entry door facing University Walk had been shattered” during the previous evening.

Aaron Bandler is an investigative journalist for the Jewish Journal. Originally from the Bay Area, his past work experience includes writing for The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller and Townhall.

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Aaron Bandler
Aaron Bandler is an investigative journalist for the Jewish Journal. Originally from the Bay Area, his past work experience includes writing for The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller and Townhall.

The University of Southern California Hillel building was vandalized on the morning of August 23.

The Journal obtained an email sent out by the Hillel to the rest of the community explaining that “a window next to our entry door facing University Walk had been shattered” during the previous evening. “The building was not occupied when this occurred,” USC Hillel Executive Director Dave Cohn wrote in the email “At this time, we do not yet know the motives or identities of any involved, and are not yet prepared to characterize the incident. We do not know whether the damage was accidental, a random act of criminal vandalism, or if it specifically targeted our facility. That said, within a half hour of opening our building this morning we were working closely on-site with the USC Department of Public Safety to begin an investigation.” Cohn added that they “are reviewing security footage and will ensure that every measure is taken to prioritize the safety and security of our students and our Hillel.”

The university said in a statement to the Journal, ““We are aware of the incident. The USC Department of Public Safety (DPS) is taking it very seriously. DPS, in partnership with Hillel, will ensure that every measure is taken to protect the safety and security of our students and our community. If anyone has any information about the incident, please call DPS at 213-740-6000.”

Jewish groups condemned the vandalism.

“Though we are waiting for more information on this incident at USC Hillel’s office, we view this act of vandalism with great concern, as acts of antisemitism are on the rise in our communities, including on college campuses,” Anti-Defamation League Los Angeles Regional Director Jeffrey I. Abrams said in a statement. “From 2020 to 2021, we saw a 41% increase in antisemitic incidents across Southern California, and a 34% increase nationwide. Nationally, antisemitic incidents on college campuses rose 21%. We are grateful to the USC Department of Public Safety for its quick response and await their investigative findings.”

American Jewish Committee Los Angeles Regional Director Richard S. Hirschhaut similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “Given the climate of intolerance and hostility toward Jewish students on many college campuses these days, it is chilling that a projectile would be hurled through a window at USC Hillel. Such physical assaults are unacceptable, and the perpetrators must be held accountable for their violent and dangerous criminal act. Ironically, this vandalism comes at a moment when USC is examining its campus climate, especially the protection of its Jewish student population, head on and with refreshing, unvarnished honesty. That is the backdrop in which this abhorrent act occurred. May it be an aberration.”

StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein also said in a statement to the Journal, “StandWithUs condemns the recent criminal act of vandalism carried out against USC Hillel. We are grateful to USC’s Department of Public Safety for their rapid response in investigating if this was a random act of vandalism or was motivated by antisemitism. We support USC Hillel and students who are negatively impacted by this crime regardless of its nature.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda Rabbi Abraham Cooper was more critical of USC. “Will there be accountability—ever––at USC for anti-Semitism?” he said in a statement to the Journal. “There was a reason USC was listed in SWC 2021 Top Ten Anti-Semitism list. There is a reason why the US Department of Education was compelled to launch an investigation. It is not too late for the University’s top leadership to finally treat anti-Semitism with the same degree of concern and action when other minorities are concerned. Not only students but outstanding Jewish professors at USC expressed their concerns and fears directly to the University President. What has changed? If today’s vandalism is any indication, not much.”

Judea Pearl, Chancellor Professor of Computer Science at UCLA, National Academy of Sciences member and Daniel Pearl Foundation President, noted in a tweet that the vandalism occurred the same day as the Advisory Committee for Jewish Life at USC sent a memorandum to USC President Carol L. Folt with their recommendations for dealing with antisemitism on campus. “It’s much better than expected, for it mentions anti-Zionism 12 times,” Pearl tweeted. “However, instead [of] declaring anti-Zionism an unacceptable form of hate, it recommends: ‘Acknowledge explicitly that anti-Zionism can sometimes be experienced as antisemitism in responding to issues and incidents.’ In other words, the committee acknowledges explicitly its commitment to remaining as vague and inexplicit as possible in order to keep the ‘committee’ in session, and resist defining anti-Zionism as an assault of one’s identity. Sad.”

Stop Antisemitism tweeted that “antisemitism is skyrocketing on American college campuses” and encouraged students and recent graduates of college universities to give them input on an upcoming report on “the safest schools for Jewish students.”

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