April 1, 2020

Swastika Found on GWU Jewish Student’s Door

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A swastika was found on a Jewish student’s dorm door at George Washington University on Jan. 31.

The student, Zev Siegfeld, announced in a Feb. 1 Facebook post that the pictures of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that were taped on the outside of his residence hall door were defaced with a swastika on Trump and an Adolf Hitler mustache on Pence.

“As a proud and vocal Jew, I know this was not a coincidence,” Siegfeld said. “This was another attempt to stop me from expressing my views publicly, and another attempt to intimidate me into being quiet.”

A university blog identified Siegfeld as a freshman representative for GW College Republicans. He also wrote that his door has been vandalized all year and that he has received a verbal death threat.

“Many of you probably disagree with my views, the politicians I like, or the decorations I have up,” Siegfeld wrote. “Some of you may believe I should just take the decorations down. But, that lets them win. The goal of these vandals is to intimidate me into being quiet.”

My full statement/thoughts on the Swastika drawn on my door:I’ve always believed, above all else, that as much as I…

Posted by Zev Siegfeld on Saturday, February 1, 2020

The university’s Student Association (SA) Task Force on Fighting Anti-Semitism condemned the vandalism in a Feb. 2 statement.

“This display of hate and ignorance is blatantly anti-Semitic and has deeply affected our Jewish community,” the statement read. “By desecrating a student’s personal property within a GW residence hall, the attacker(s) continue a pattern of anti-Semitism on our campus, which instills fear and pain in Jewish students.”

The task force urged the university to take immediate action on the matter.

“The Student Association stands in solidarity with the GW Jewish community at this time and always,” the statement read.

A university spokesperson wrote in an email to the Journal, “GW is aware of the report of vandalism to a student’s door using anti-Semitic imagery. Our police department is fully investigating the incident.”

The task force was formed after a Snapchat video of a student at the university saying, “We’re going to f—ing bomb Israel, bro” went viral in November. University President Thomas LeBlanc said at the time that the student’s remarks were “disturbing and hateful, and they are antithetical to our university’s core values of diversity and respect. We will not tolerate anti-Semitism or any form of bigotry on our campuses.”

Later in the month, the university’s SA Senate passed a resolution establishing the task force and adopting parts of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. However, Jewish groups criticized the SA Senate for removing clauses from the resolution stating that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state that calling Israel racist is anti-Semitic.

GW for Israel Vice President Noah Shufutinsky wrote in a Facebook post at the time that the removed language “specifically addresses how we as students face anti-Semitism on campus through anti-Zionism. [The SA] made it clear tonight that appeasing racists and anti-Semites for a sense of belonging is more important than listening to your constituents.”

UPDATE: Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Washington, D.C. Senior Associate Regional Director Meredith Weisel said in a statement to the Journal, “ADL is disturbed by reports of a swastika and other Nazi imagery found on the door of a Jewish student’s dorm room at the George Washington University. We have seen these symbols of hate used to intimidate members of the Jewish community all over the world.  They serve to marginalize and threaten Jews, whether they are found on houses of worship, public forums or college campuses. We commend the GW Student Association for speaking out forcefully and unequivocally against this vandalism and the use of this imagery, and call upon the University to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the culprit and discipline them in accordance with the University’s code of conduct.”