The headquarters of a Jewish student group at a Paris university were ransacked Wednesday, with vandals scrawling anti-Israel and anti-Semitic graffiti on the office’s walls, hours before mass marches were held around France to protest anti-Semitism.
Sacha Ghozlan, president of the French Jewish Students Union, said that the damage was inflicted at the group’s facilities on the Pantheon-Sorbonne campus of the University of Paris.
“A cabinet was thrown on the ground and there were inscriptions such as ‘Death to Israel,’ ‘Viva Arafat’ on the wall,” Gozlan told the Associated Press.
He said it was unclear who was behind the incident but that it took place as “far-left students” were blocking parts of the campus in a protest apparently unconnected with Israel.
A video published on the organization’s Twitter account showed inscriptions, including “Zionist racist anti-goy office,” and “Palestine will prevail.”
L'UEJF dénonce le saccage du local de l’UEJF (FEDER) à l’Universite Paris 1 Sorbonne et demande au président de l’Universite d’agir immédiatement pour faire cesser ce déferlement de haine, d’interpeller les auteurs et de les exclure de @SorbonneParis1 pic.twitter.com/vSlwuF30z3
— UEJF (@uejf) March 28, 2018
Ghozlan said he would be filing a complaint with Paris police, and urged university officials to “act quickly” to identify the perpetrators.
University president Georges Haddad tweeted his condemnation of “this odious act” and said he would seek an investigation. Minister of Higher Education Frédérique Vidal also condemned the anti-Semitic vandalism as “shameful.”
The incident came ahead of marches Wednesday in Paris and other cities to oppose racism and to honor 85-year-old Mireille Knoll, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who was stabbed to death in what authorities are calling an anti-Semitic attack. Thousands, including some French government ministers, attended a march in Paris.
The brutal killing of the frail octogenarian — she was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, one of her sons said — has shocked France’s Jewish community.
Knoll, who escaped the mass deportation of Jews from France during World War II by fleeing abroad, was stabbed 11 times in an attack that the perpetrators apparently tried to conceal by setting fire to the apartment.
She was found dead by firefighters, Friday.
A neighbor in his twenties and a homeless youth have been charged.
AP, AFP contributed to this report.