Graffiti with an anti-Israel message was found on Case Western Reserve University’s Dental Clinic building in Cleveland Oct. 18 and covered with tarps as the university worked to remove it.
In photographs and videos provided to the Cleveland Jewish News by witnesses, the graffiti on the Chester Avenue building read: “Collective punishment is a war crime! End Israeli apartheid.”
The university shared a statement with the CJN Oct. 19, outlining its response to finding the graffiti.
“Early in the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 18, anti-Israel graffiti was found on the facade of Case Western Reserve University’s Dental Clinic building. By 7:25 a.m., the graffiti was covered with tarps,” the statement reads. “The white brick wall was pressure-washed throughout the day, removing most of the graffiti. While we work to fully remove the graffiti, we have covered the affected area with white tarps.
“Through several offices, the university is providing resources to its campus community,” the statement continued.
A Case medical student told the CJN she walks by the building every day on her way to her first class. On Oct. 18, she first noticed police cars and only noticed the message on the wall as she got closer.
“It was really upsetting to see right before class and have to deal with something like that in the beginning of the day,” said the student, who is Israeli and the CJN is not identifying by name out of concern about potential retribution for speaking publicly of the incident.
She said the university appeared to begin to cover and remove it pretty quickly, as after her two-hour class she noticed the tarps, and by the evening there was just an outline of what was scrubbed off. Still, as an Israeli student with family back home, the events in Israel and now this incident have affected her and other Jewish students, she said.
“I think if I wasn’t surrounded by friends, I would have cried – I cried later on the phone talking with my mom,” she said. “I think it’s been an issue that I’ve felt that daily, but it’s never really reached me in my community. But seeing it there, it was like ‘Wow, it’s gotten all the way here to my school,’ and I don’t know who might be thinking what and what people might be thinking of me. I feel very isolated about what’s going on.”
The student said she has not received an email from the university specifically regarding the graffiti, but CWRU previously sent two emails “showing compassion” and sharing mental health resources for students following the terrorist attacks in Israel. She also received an email from the Case Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Engagement to students of the Jewish Medical Student Association offering support.
“It’s really upsetting that the school is taking its time with the email,” the student said Oct. 19. “I’m sure it will come, but I know I wanted to see something that day because I want to feel reassured that the school is taking care of it and that it cares about its students and what they’re experiencing.”
The CWRU School of Medicine’s Medical Education News Oct. 20 newsletter addressed the impact that “recent world events” have had on students, but did not mention the graffiti incident specifically.
“We are in troubled times,” Lia Logio, vice dean of medical education, wrote in the newsletter. “There are no words to express our sense of vulnerability and helplessness as it relates to recent world events and how close to home they are becoming. We encourage each and every one of you to take care of yourselves and take care of each other.”
She continued by offering support services to students and urging the “future healers” to hold onto their commonality in their pledge to serve the sick and suffering to minimize differences.