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Smith College responds to antisemitic graffiti by condemning Islamophobia

Advisory committee also considering divesting 

Swastikas painted on a Smith College crosswalk and mezuzahs stolen from door frames recently prompted the women’s college president to send a memo to students and staff bemoaning the developments.

President Sarah Willie-LeBreton sent the letter March 1, outlining her dismay with the incidents, saying administrators are “disheartened by these unsettling events.” Mezuzahs are little metal cases wrapped around Jewish prayers hung on door frames as a religious ritual.

Willie-LeBreton’s letter, posted to X by Daily Wire reporter Kassy Dillon, listed the pain and suffering going on on the Massachusetts campus in the wake of the Hamas attack on Israel and Israel’s response in Gaza. The heart of the letter, bolded by the president (pictured) in her memo, was the statement that “there is no place for antisemitism, Islamophobia, or any form of hate at Smith College.”

Willie-LeBreton did not explain how swastikas or stolen mezuzahs relate to Islamophobia in her memo. She also announced in the same letter that the school’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility is considering a divestment request. While the letter did not specify Israel, typically that term refers to divestment from Israeli companies.

The inclusion of Islamophobia and anti-Israel considerations in a memo to address antisemitic graffiti and vandalism drew criticism from some on social media.

“Mezuzahs were stolen from door frames and swastika graffiti has appeared near Smith College’s campus. In response, the school’s president felt the need to condemn Islamophobia and have an advisory committee consider divesting from companies doing business with the IDF,” Dillion wrote on X.

The letter also noted that “Smith Campus Safety has coordinated with the Northampton Police Department to launch an investigation” and “the Bias Response Team has been activated.” Counseling services are available with college clergy, it noted.

This is the second letter to the campus in which President Willie-LeBreton appeared to conflate the phenomena of antisemitism and Islamophobia. The first occurred a month after the initial terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7, in which more than 1,200 Israeli civilians were killed, including women and children.

That memo also began with a statement that “there is no place for antisemitism or Islamophobia at Smith.” In the Nov. 6 letter, Willie-LeBreton also listed actions being taken on campus.

They included “Generating Justice Vigils,” meetings between students and faculty, bringing in a rabbi to create a community for Jewish students, staff and faculty, setting up Arab and Muslim gatherings to discuss “thoughts and feelings,” faculty sensitivity training, and a panel discussion on the region.

According to the Smith Clery report on campus crime, a swastika was painted in a campus crosswalk on Feb. 27 and a mezuzah was stolen from the college’s kosher kitchen on Feb. 14, suggesting that these problems are ongoing.

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