Antisemetic graffiti left in front of U-M Jewish organization's building

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (FOX 2) - Disturbing antisemetic graffiti was left at University of Michigan's Hillel building in Ann Arbor this week.

The Jewish organization said students found two benches in front of the building defaced with a Star of David, an equals sign, and a swastika.

"It’s extremely upsetting," said Jack Landstein with Michigan Hillel's student government. "It really, it just hurts – I mean hate anywhere shouldn’t exist on a campus, especially here at the University of Michigan."

The hateful graffiti has since been covered up.

According to Michigan Hillel, the incident comes one day after similar graffiti was found on a flier posted to a telephone pole next to the building.

"It kind of says we don’t want Jews here, which is really upsetting," Landstein said. "It’s not what we stand for, and we would never wish that upon anybody else."

Police are investigating both incidents.

Student leaders said tensions have been high as the war in Gaza continues; anti-Israel acts have increased.

"Jewish students go to class and there can be fliers up and some of them can be unsettling," said Rabbi Asher Lopatin, the director of community relations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor "Every once in a while, there are some chants that don’t make students feel good. … There are moments when they feel uncomfortable, or even unsafe, which is intolerable. But they are strong, and we’re being inspired by the students to be strong as well."

Lopatin said there is ongoing communication with U-M and law enforcement to handle these cases.

"We are hearing that there are more patrols and the university is sending out new protocols to try to prevent sort of free speech becoming intolerable and becoming intimidating," Lopatin said. "I think the most important thing that we want to see is follow through – there have to be consequences when you violate your free speech. When you take your free speech and you harm someone else."

The university's administration is now considering a "Disrupted Activity" policy that would punish students who disrupt events. However, students who are against the war in Gaza, and have been holding several protests on campus, say the proposal is aimed at them and threatens their own free speech.

U-M sent FOX 2 the following statement, addressing the vandalism:

"The University of Michigan denounces antisemitism and all forms of bigotry and violence. Everything we stand for as a university and a campus community runs counter to such hatred. Campus leaders are working closely with the university’s Division of Public Safety and Security as well as the Ann Arbor Police Department," according to the university. "We maintain several avenues for reporting threatening behavior, and we encourage our students to contact us if they see or experience something that raises concern. Violations of university policy will result in appropriate consequences. Conduct that may violate criminal law will be referred to federal, state, or local prosecutors."