An electrical city box at Cal State Fullerton was vandalized with the words, “For the many, not the Jew,” on Tuesday. The box is located next to the intersection of Nutwood and Commonwealth avenues at College Park.
The anti-Semitic vandalism appears to be a reference to the British Labour Party manifesto “For the many, not the few.”
The graffiti was taken down the same day by engineers in College Park, and University Police are investigating it as an act of vandalism, not as a hate crime, said Capt. Scot Willey.
“Hate crimes are very specific. They’re intent crimes that have to show they are directed at a certain building that houses a certain group. If that was on a synagogue or where campus Hillel group meets, then we could categorize it as a hate crime,” Willey said. “If we get any more information, we will prosecute it to the fullest extent.”
Willey said there are no leads on the investigation.
Hate crime trends
New data from the FBI shows that there was a 37 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes between 2016 and 2017. In 2016 there were 684 anti-Jewish bias-motivated incidents, and in 2017 there were 938.
Across the country, college campuses have also seen a rise in hate crimes. The Anti-Defamation League, an organization founded in 1913 dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, released data in February showing an “alarming increase” in white supremacist propaganda on U.S. college campuses.
California is one of the states that has experienced the most incidents of campus flyer propaganda, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
“We have seen increased incidents, not just in anti-Semitism, but ‘alt-right’ and white supremacists on college campuses, over the past two years. We’ve seen an incredible increase in extremist and hate and bigoted posterings, graffiti, flyers, on college campuses,” said Peter Levi, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Orange County and Long Beach.
According to the 2018 Annual Security Report that collects CSUF crime statistics, there were two hate crimes reported in 2016 and none reported in 2017.
One of the reported hate crimes in 2016 was aggravated assault and the other was reported bias on sexual orientation. Willey said the university has “little to no history” of hate crimes occurring on campus.
The anti-Semitic writing hit close to home for some students on campus. Rivka Pruss, a fourth year and double major in journalism and Spanish, said she was shocked and angry when she realized how close this vandalism was.
“I guess I’m just really hurt because you want to think of college campuses as a place where students come together, learn and are accepting and respectful of all cultures,” Pruss said.
The university and campus police have partnered with anti-hate groups like the Anti-Defamation League to train and educate people about hate crimes. They work with groups like campus housing and law enforcement to inform them about hate groups, bias and bigotry.
“I don’t even know what whoever wrote this is trying to say by writing like that,” Pruss said. “Jewish people have historically helped lots of people. We continue to try to be of service as much as we can to others.”
On Oct. 30, CSUF students and community members held a vigil to honor those who had been killed or affected by the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pennsylvania. Days after the massacre in Pittsburgh, an Irvine synagogue was defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti.
Isaiah Kuli Nieto-Goldman, president of the Hillel club at CSUF, said the vandalization has made students in the Jewish club feel less safe on campus.
“For me, it doesn’t matter if it comes from a fellow student or somebody on the outside. The fact that it’s that close to me and it’s still showing up in places that I need to be in, obviously. It shows that it’s close enough,” Nieto-Goldman said.
With the rise in anti-Semitism across college campuses, Levi said it is important to report any hate incident, even those that may seem minor.
“Don’t let people make sexist jokes, or racist jokes. Don’t let people stereotype or generalize others, because when we normalize ideas, attitudes, stereotypes or jokes, it escalates. If it’s from a peer, a professor, anywhere — say something. Do something,” Levi said.
To report a hate crime, contact University Police. For students looking for support, contact the Student Health and Counseling Center.