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Israeli flag defaced at UC Riverside

State of Israel Flag

An Israeli flag belonging to a UC Riverside Jewish student organization was defaced, with the word “terrorists” written on a portion of it, campus authorities said Wednesday as they launched an investigation into the incident.

UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White denounced the flag defacement. “Such an action is antithetical to all we stand for at UCR. We are a campus that expects among its members a proper respect for others across national, gender, ethnic, faith and political boundaries, among others,” White said in a statement.

“The defacement of any nation’s flag with pejorative characterizations of its people is an insult to every nation and its people. Such behavior diminishes us all, and we have zero tolerance for it,” he added.

The flag was displayed on a hallway bulletin board outside the office of the Hillel organization.

Apparently using a pencil, someone scribbled the word “terrorists” in the white field at the center of the Star of David on the flag, according to a campus spokesman.

The defacement was discovered Tuesday and reported to campus administrators and police, who are looking for leads to identify the vandal.

The UC system has faced controversies over the last few years as issues of the Mideast conflict have touched campuses. In September, 10 students –- three from UC Riverside and seven from UC Irvine -- were convicted of disrupting a 2010 speech at UC Irvine by the Israeli ambassador. The students, sentenced to community service and probation, are appealing their misdemeanor convictions, arguing that the law used to convict them is vague and unconstitutional.

Jewish groups have contended that UC administrators have not paid enough attention to acts of anti-Semitism in the university system.

[UPDATE at 6:00 p.m.: Hillel’s faculty adviser David Crohn said he was upset by the flag incident but did not want it to be blown out of proportion. A recent talk on campus by two Israeli soldiers triggered protests from some students who oppose Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and that may have led to the flag defacement, he said. But the environmental sciences professor also said the campus also recently held an interfaith comedy night at which Jews, Muslims and Christians performed together and had a lot of “really positive interaction.”]

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-- Larry Gordon

Photo: Defaced Israeli flag. Credit: UC Riverside

 
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