Madison, WI – Messages written in chalk around the University of Wisconsin Madison campus raised concerns among the university’s Jewish community.
Rabbi Mendel Matusof is the director and Rabbi at the Chabad at UW. He said students sent him pictures of the drawings on Wednesday morning. Matusof said the messages were anti-Semitic and targeted Jews.
“It said something along the lines of, ‘Zionism is genocide and racism, there are 5 Zionist orgs at UW, blood is on their hands’ and listed off all the Jewish groups on campus,” Matusof told 27 News.
He said students found the chalk drawings at several buildings around campus. Matusof said knowing some students saw that on their first day of classes makes him sad.
“The statements about Israel themselves are lies and not true, but the most anti-Semitic part is them associating all American Jews with their perceived notions of the only Jewish state in the world,” he added.
While it’s not illegal to write those things or say them in public, Matusof said that doesn’t mean it’s right. Instead he said it’s both hurtful and wrong.
He said he worries the messages will insight fear in students but wants them to know they don’t need to be scared.
“I want all the individual Jewish students who felt threatened and scared to know that the Jewish community stands with them and the entire UW community supports them,” he added.
A group of UW students tried to turn the situation into a positive experience by adding their group Instagram handle to one of the drawings and included how proud they are to be Jewish.
Matusof encourages anyone with concerns regarding the chalk messages or anyone worried about the people or person who wrote them to contact someone you trust. He said he is also available for students who need to talk about the matter.