Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Graffiti found at UMass Hillel House on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day

The red spray-painted graffiti was the Arabic word for ‘Palestine’

On Tuesday morning, red spray-painted graffiti reading “Palestine” in Arabic was found on the front of the UMass Hillel House in Amherst.

The graffiti appears to have been painted on Yom HaShoah, Israel’s day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust. The holiday began in Israel on Monday night at sundown and continues until Tuesday at sundown.

Images of the graffiti were shared widely on social media during the day on Tuesday.  According to a statement on the UMass Hillel website, the graffiti was reported to the Amherst Police Department, the University of Massachusetts and other organizational partners.

“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,” the statement reads. “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 vibrant community based on values of love, respect, justice and peace.”

In an email to the school community Tuesday afternoon, UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy called the act one of “brazen anti-Semitism.”

“The timing of this cowardly act, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, is deeply repugnant,” he wrote.

According to Subbaswamy, an investigation is underway by the Amherst Police Department. “However, the UMass Police Department has been notified and has contacted APD to offer assistance,” the chancellor added.

“The SGA will not stand for intolerance, hate crimes, or vandalism of any kind. As a Jewish woman, I am disgusted by this act,” Student Government Association president Rachel Ellis said in a statement posted to the group’s social media accounts.

“While support for the Palestinian people and belief in their right to have their own country is completely legitimate, and has 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 global crisis,” the SGA statement also said.

Taylor Orton, the house director for Iota Gamma Upsilon, said she was alerted by a colleague about the vandalism around 8:30 a.m. Orton said she was heartbroken for the Jewish community and wanted to offer her support to UMass Hillel.

“You hear about this type of stuff happening, but to see it first-hand was heartbreaking,” Orton said.

The Hillel Council of New England stated on Facebook that it stood with UMass Hillel and condemned the act: “On today, Yom HaShoah, let us remember the Holocaust and reflect on its lessons for these scary and uncertain times.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify source and circulation of photo.

Will Katcher can be reached at [email protected]. Kathrine Esten can be reached at [email protected].

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  • S

    stephen markApr 27, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    Palestinians have a right to declare their determination that we Jews when we recall the Holocaust , also remember in the same way we shed tears of wine at Passover for all who suffered by what it took to get our freedom, remember that the Holocaust pushed Palestinians out of their homes and off the land that we safely occupy. And until we have made a just peace with them we cannot rest easy.

  • J

    Julie FriedmanApr 22, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    Would it be acceptable to deface a building or organization devoted to Palestinian students? When you disrespect this organization you also disrespect your own.

  • S

    SheiraApr 22, 2020 at 8:31 pm

    As a graduate of UMASS Amherst and as a Holocaust educator, it grieves me to see this blatant act of Anti-Semitism. Of course it was timed perfectly to coincide with Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. College campuses throughout the country are seeing a surge in Anti-Semitic incidents which is a reflection of the current political atmosphere in this country. We need to continue to educate and to not be bystanders whenever we see senseless acts of hate occurring.

  • J

    Josh DegenApr 22, 2020 at 8:19 pm

    Graffiti like this while completely insulting is cowardly at best. If you want to protest write a letter to the editor explaining your position and issue. You can show your face too and stand in front of the building with a sign. I firmly believe in the right to protest but do not condone graffiti on a building. Choosing to desecrate a Hillel on Holocaust Remember Day is spineless. UMass use your surveillance cameras then catch and prosecute. Do what a higher education institution should do and educate your student body and staff.

  • Y

    Yisrael MedadApr 22, 2020 at 12:38 am

    This brings us back to some of the central themes these past few years among progressive/liberal circles: Can Arabs be anti-Semites? Is anti-Zionism anti-Semitism? Well, we need to ask the fellow or fellah who scribbled `Palestine` on the UMassAmherst Hillel House right?
    And then inquire at JSt and IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, et al. who may think they are friends with such a person and are unaware or blind to such attitudes amongst who they support..

  • K

    Kathleen Kee IbbotsonApr 21, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Disgusting..ignorant people and cowards! And on a day of remembrance totally insulting to me as a Christian.