Two black swastikas spray-painted near the entrance of a Jewish fraternity house on Emory University‘s campus early Sunday sent a wave of shock and anger through the Atlanta campus. The swastikas, which have since been covered up, were painted at about 5 a.m. Sunday morning on the traditionally Jewish Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity house on campus.
The incident came just as the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur ended and just prior to the start of the festive holiday of Sukkot later this week. It shattered the atmosphere of quiet, peaceful self-reflection that normally characterizes Yom Kippur.
“Our members at Emory are certainly shaken by this. That’s not something you hear a lot from college students, especially male college students,” said Jonathan Pierce, AEPi’s spokesman and a former international president of the fraternity.
Pierce said that there has been an uptick in anti-Semitism in the United States in the past year, especially on college campuses. He said activity such as verbal abuse and threats have become more common with the most recent round of fighting between Hamas in Gaza and Israel.
“A lot of anti-Israel groups have targeted college campuses as a way to get their messages out,” he said.
Emory’s President James Wagner issued a brief and bruising statement, calling it an “offense against a Jewish fraternity and the Jewish members of our community” and “a repugnant, flagrant emblem of anti-Semitism.”
The Student Government Association Executive Board invited students to show their support for Jewish members of the Emory community by wearing blue on Monday.
Campus security at the university, which has increased patrols near the fraternity and elsewhere, wouldn’t comment on whether or not they have any suspects in the case, or if there is security footage from the outside of the house.
AEPi dates back to 1914 and has 180 chapters in six countries.