The University of Leeds has expressed deep dismay following an incident where the Jewish Society building, Hillel House, was targeted with anti-Semitic graffiti. The desecration, which occurred early on the morning of February 9, has sparked outrage and condemnation from both university officials and the wider community.
A joint statement from the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Leeds University Jewish Society (J-Soc) conveyed their anguish and anger over the hateful act. The graffiti, which included phrases such as ‘free palestine’ and ‘IDF off campus’, was described as shocking and despicable. The incident unfolded amidst protests concerning the return of a Jewish Rabbi who had previously served with the IDF in Gaza.
West Yorkshire Police swiftly responded to the incident, confirming that it is being treated as a hate crime. Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Richard Armstead assured both university students and the wider Jewish community that such acts of hate would not be tolerated. Efforts are underway to remove the graffiti, with a thorough investigation ongoing to identify those responsible.
In a statement, the University of Leeds conveyed its deep sadness at the targeting of Hillel House, emphasising that incidents of this nature are taken extremely seriously. The safety and welfare of students and staff remain the institution’s top priority. The university acknowledged the profound impact of ongoing conflicts in Israel and Gaza on its community and reaffirmed its commitment to providing support.
Efforts are underway to assist the police in their investigation, with the university working closely with law enforcement and property owners to address the situation promptly. Additionally, support has been extended to UJS in the swift cleaning and repainting of the affected property.
The University of Leeds has made it clear that all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, have no place on its campus. The institution has urged its community to report any incidents promptly for investigation. Inspector Armstead echoed this sentiment, encouraging anyone with information about the incident to come forward to assist with enquiries.
As investigations continue, West Yorkshire Police have appealed for witnesses or anyone with information to contact Leeds District CID or provide anonymous tips to independent charity Crimestoppers.
The incident serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing need to combat hatred and prejudice in all its forms. The University of Leeds remains committed to fostering an inclusive and safe environment for all its members, reiterating its stance against discrimination and intolerance.
The reprehensible act of targeting Hillel House with anti-Semitic graffiti has elicited widespread condemnation and calls for action. As investigations proceed, the University of Leeds stands firm in its commitment to supporting affected communities and ensuring the safety and well-being of all its members. In the face of adversity, the university community has rallied together, affirming the values of diversity, inclusion, and tolerance. Moving forward, it is imperative that concerted efforts continue to combat anti-Semitism and all forms of hate, fostering a campus environment where every individual feels respected and valued.