Queens College Hillel demands administration take action after pro-Hitler graffiti

Jewish organization’s chapter at NYC school warns recent vandalism ‘threatens the safety of Jews,’ as college president says ‘absolutely no place’ for antisemitism on campus

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

This illustrative photo shows an entrance to Queens College on April 15, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
This illustrative photo shows an entrance to Queens College on April 15, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

New York Jewish Week via JTA — Queens College’s Hillel chapter says recent graffiti on campus targeting Jews was a threat to student safety and demanded action from the college administration.

The graffiti on buildings around campus included the messages, “You better start hiding, Jews,” “Israelis, I’m coming after you,” and “Hitler, please come back. Teach Jews a lesson,” according to a statement released by the college’s Hillel director, Jenna Citron Schwab.

The statement, issued Thursday, said the college’s Jewish community had experienced similar threats previously and had been warning college leadership for weeks about escalating antisemitism on campus.

“The vandalism threatens the safety of Jews,” the statement said. “Antisemitism has no place on our campus or in any society.”

The Hillel demanded that the college call out antisemitism, take steps to enforce its code of conduct to prevent antisemitic vandalism and punish the perpetrators.

The college’s president, Frank Wu, sent a statement to the campus community on Thursday saying that “antisemitic graffiti” was found in several bathrooms and police were notified.

“Queens College stands strongly against religious intolerance, racism, sexism, and bigotry of any kind,” Wu said.

In a follow-up statement on Friday, Wu said that the NYPD had classified one instance of graffiti as a hate crime and the others as criminal mischief.

“Let me be clear: Antisemitism has absolutely no place on the Queens College campus,” Wu said.

A Queens College spokesperson told the New York Jewish Week that Wu meets often with Hillel representatives and that they are “working together to address antisemitism.”

Queens College has about 4,000 Jewish students, close to 30% of its student body of 13,510, according to Hillel international.

The NYPD told the New York Jewish Week it had received two reports of graffiti at Queens College on Wednesday, both inside a women’s bathroom. There were no descriptions available of suspects in the vandalism. Police said the Hate Crimes Task Force has been notified.

Queens College is part of the City University of New York system, the nation’s largest urban college network, which has a total of 226,000 students across its campuses. CUNY has grappled with allegations of antisemitism for years, and has taken measures to prevent the spread of anti-Jewish sentiment on campus, including through a partnership with the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Tensions have been high at Queens College amid the Israel-Hamas war. A meeting between Muslim and Jewish students in November devolved into shouting. Muslim students at the meeting expressed support for Hamas’ October 7 terror attack on Israel, which launched the war, and castigated an imam who organized the talk.

Wu spoke out against the school’s Muslim Students Association in November after the group denied Hamas atrocities. His criticism drew backlash from pro-Palestinian supporters on campus.

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