Officials at Duke University in North Carolina say a red swastika was painted Sunday night on to a mural that was created to honor those who were slaughtered by an anti-Semitic shooter last month at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
University President Vincent Prince condemned the vandalism as “cowardly” and told reporters increased security would continue at the campus, including at the Freeman Center for Jewish Life. He also said the university will install security cameras at the East Campus Bridge, under which students paint messages, memorials and promotions, because of the hateful messages seen there.
A Latin Heritage mural was defaced at the same location just two months ago, according to the Associated Press.
Rabbi Nossen Fellig, co-director of the Chabad Jewish Student Center at the university, said, “What makes this disturbing incident even more vile is that an image which represents the wholesale murder of six million Jews was painted over a tribute created by students in memory of those massacred in the Tree of Life Synagogue.”
Fellig said it was not the first anti-Semitic incident at the campus this year. “We hope, and expect, that the response will be resolute and robust,” he added.
“The people who committed these acts did so in order to spread hate and to make Jewish students feel unwelcome and unsafe on campus.
“I believe that it is particularly significant that this incident took place just weeks before the Chanukah season when Jews around the world recall the Jewish victory over a regime that sought to persecute and tarnish the Jewish way of life 2,100 years ago,” he noted.
“We refuse to be intimidated or frightened,” Fellig added. He said the incident would be used as a motivation to expand programming for Jewish students on campus.