Swastikas graffitied in office of Columbia Jewish professor

NYPD open probe into apparent hate crime targeting Elizabeth Midlarsky, whose work space was similarly targeted in 2007

Elizabeth Midlarsky (Facebook)
Elizabeth Midlarsky (Facebook)

A Jewish professor at Columbia University in New York arrived at her office Wednesday to find two red swastikas, along with the derogatory term “Yid,” spray-painted on the walls.

The NYPD opened an investigation into the apparent hate crime targeting Elizabeth Midlarsky, 77, who has served as a professor at the Columbia Teachers College for nearly three decades.

“I opened the outer door and almost passed out,” she told CNN. “I was so shaky, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.”

The professor, who is not in good health, said she provided police with a statement before being taken home.

The president of the Teachers College, Thomas Bailey, released a statement “unequivocally” condemning the apparent hate crime. “We are outraged and horrified by this act of aggression and use of this vile anti-Semitic symbol against a valued member of our community.”

Butler Library at New York City’s Columbia University. (Wikimedia Commons)

Midlarsky told CNN that it was not the first time she had been targeted. In 2007, she began publishing research on the Holocaust, and demonstrated against then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at the university. The professor subsequently began receiving hate mail. The harassment escalated to the painting of a swastika on her office door.

“I could see why someone was really angry, because I had taken a lot of public positions,” she told the New York Daily News.

But Midlarsky admitted to being more surprised by Wednesday’s incident.

“I haven’t done anything, said anything,” she told CNN, adding that she sees the apparent hate crime as “connected to a trend and upsurge in anti-Semitism that we’ve seen in recent years.”

“I feel very, very vulnerable,” she said.

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