Elizabeth Midlarsky, a Jewish psychology and education professor at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, has been vandalized with swastikas and an anti-Semitic slur. According to CNN, the NYPD has launched an investigation into this possible hate crime.
On Wednesday, November 28, Midlarsky discovered the graffiti–two swastikas alongside the derogatory term “YID”–when she came to her office around 1 P.M., at which point she notified campus security. The graffiti was drawn in the entryway to Midlarsky’s office, which is not shared with other staff.
According to Teacher’s College website, all academic buildings require ID for entry, either from Teachers College, Columbia, Barnard, or other affiliated schools.
The incident is now under investigation by NYPD. Currently, there is no known suspect.
When Midlarsky saw the two swastikas spray-painted in red, she told CNN that she “almost passed out.”
“I was in shock,” she told the Columbia Spectator. “I stopped for a moment because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
This isn’t the first time Midlarsky experienced anti-Semitic blasphemy. Her office was also vandalized in 2007 when a swastika was spray-painted on her door and anti-Semitic flyers left in her mailbox. According to Midlarsky, this prior incident was “horrifying but not surprising” due to her “relatively visible status as a Jew” at the time, citing her numerous published papers and articles on subjects related to the Holocaust, the Columbia Spectator reported.
However, Midlarsky believes that this second incident is due to rising hate crimes and Anti-Semitic views in the current U.S.
“Anti-Semitism is really in the wind now,” she said. “I didn’t expect to be a personal target right now. I’m not standing up there waving banners. I’m not out there making announcements publicly.”
Teachers College President Thomas Bailey released a statement following the incident.
“We unequivocally condemn any expression of hatred, which has no place in our society. We are outraged and horrified by this act of aggression and use of this vile anti-Semitic symbol against a valued member of our community,” Bailey said.
“Please rest assured that we are working with police to discover the perpetrator of this hateful act. I also want to reaffirm the College’s commitment–and my own–to providing a respectful and welcoming environment for all, and to protect the safety and dignity of all members of our community.”
Who Is Elizabeth Midlarsky?
Midlarsky is a psychology and education professor at Columbia’s Teacher’s College on the Upper West Side of New York. She is a prominent Holocaust researcher who has written a number of articles and papers on the subject.
She had become prominent for a number of published papers and articles regarding her Holocaust research.
Her publications include “Personality correlates of heroic rescue during the Holocaust” and she describes her research areas as “altruism and religiousness through the lifespan; rescue during the Holocaust and responses by survivors and their progeny.”
Midlarsky, who is 77 and in declining health, said she is baffled by the most recent vandalism.
“I haven’t done anything, said anything,” she added that she sees this incident as “connected to a trend and upsurge in anti-Semitism that we’ve seen in recent years.”
Midlarsky referenced her 13-year-old grandson’s Bar Mitzvah, held on the same day as the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 people.
“I feel very, very vulnerable,” she told CNN.