Swastika defaces mural at Duke memorializing Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims


(JTA) — A red swastika was painted on a mural at Duke University created in memory of the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue attack in Pittsburgh.

The swastika, discovered on Sunday, was daubed on top of a gold Star of David painted by Duke students next to the names of the 11 victims killed during Shabbat services last month. The slogan “We must build this world from love” was written in English and Hebrew on the mural.

By 1 a.m. Monday, someone taped a plastic bag over the swastika to obscure  it, the Duke student newspaper The Chronicle reported.

It is the third swastika to be found on the campus in recent weeks, according to the publication.

Duke President Vincent Price condemned the vandalism in a statement issued Monday, saying he heard the news with a “deep sense of frustration and sorrow.”

“That such a craven and cowardly act of vandalism – a desecration of a memorial to individuals who were killed because they were Jewish and practicing their faith – should happen anywhere is extremely distressing,” he wrote. “That it should occur in such a visible, public location at Duke should be a matter of grave concern to us all.”

Price said the university would increase security at the campus’ Hillel. He said he would call a meeting of campus leaders, the local Jewish community and public officials “to review this matter and advise us on the actions we can take to confront the scourge of anti-Semitism through education and activism.”

The Freeman Center for Jewish Life Rubenstein-Silvers Hillel, in a post on Facebook, said that “many students find themselves this morning under stress, and feeling under attack.”

The mural was created at the “Free Expression” bridge/tunnel, a site on campus where students are encouraged to paint political opinions, humor, expressions of school pride and other graffiti.

“The free speech tunnel that recently bore a message of love, of peace, and of unity following the Tree of Life attacks in Pittsburgh was defaced with a swastika,” the post said. “Someone deliberately took a can of spray paint to an area that they knew would be incredibly hurtful to the Duke Jewish community. This act was not just hateful, it was an intentional violation of a space that had been, in many ways, consecrated by our Jewish community.”

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