A sign in front of the Hillel building in Madison was defaced with the words “Free Palestine” on Tuesday.
“Free Palestine” is a slogan used by some who argue that “Palestine” must be “freed.” There have been similar signs and incidents at other campuses around the nation.
Many in the Jewish world have criticized calls to “Free Palestine,” noting that Jews have lived in Palestine since well before the creation of the state of Israel; the Israeli military vacated the Gaza Strip years ago and it has since been a platform for terror; Judaism, through the Torah, is deeply tied to the land; and efforts to create a two-state solution have been scuttled in the past by Palestinian leadership.
The vandalism is a bias incident, said Madison Hillel President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Steinberger.
“We view this as being targeted. It’s because of where and what it was,” he said. “It’s not like they tagged ten buildings in town.”
Police are investigating.
Steinberger said Madison Hillel is a “place where Jewish students and the campus community can gather and participate in diversity on the issues of our time.”
In a Facebook post, he wrote: “Our campus community is resilient and strong, and we will clean up the graffiti, work with the community on the investigation and move forward leading with our commitment to empowering students to build vibrant community based on values of love, respect, justice and peace. If you are seeking a place to talk and reflect on this or other issues, please be in touch. We are here for you, we care, and we need you too.”
Madison Hillel is one of the largest Hillels in the nation, both by Jewish population and building size.