Washington state university holds ceremony replacing defaced Jewish books

Over 250 students and staff attend special reshelving also marking 120 books donated to the library after vandalism made public

The Wilson Library at Western Washington University in Washington state. (Public Domain/Wikipedia)
The Wilson Library at Western Washington University in Washington state. (Public Domain/Wikipedia)

In a special reshelving ceremony, Western Washington University replaced seven Jewish-themed books that had been damaged with anti-Semitic messages or had pages ripped out of them.

More than 250 people attended the ceremony on Tuesday in Bellingham, which also acknowledged the 120 books donated to the library after the vandalism over several weeks was made public, according to the university.

“Whether campus is your home, or you live in Bellingham or beyond, we are all one community,” President Sabah Randhawa said. “We are united in opposition against these acts of anti-Semitic vandalism, and against all such acts of hatred and bigotry. This kind of cowardly action perfectly illustrates the nature of hate and bigotry because it flourishes in darkness and withers when exposed to the light of reason and intellectual scrutiny.”

The university is taking steps to deter further damage to the Jewish studies collection and books focused on other groups, and police will increase patrols around the library, university officials told KOMO news, a local broadcaster.

Sandra Alfers, director of the Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, said the destruction of books “conjures up particularly disturbing ghosts from the past.”

Alfers, a German professor, added: “Commit yourself to being engaged, to actively, thoughtfully and respectfully be building bridges, not walls, and creating much-needed change. To seek knowledge and to apply it. Therein lies your – our – responsibility as we stand up in unity to anti-Semitism, hate and bigotry.”

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