Commons reports fourth incident of antisemitic vandalism


Davis Marks/Chronicle

President Rick Commons sent a school-wide email Tuesday detailing the most recent incident of antisemitic vandalism.

Davis Marks

A Nazi symbol was found on campus Monday, the fourth incident involving antisemitic vandalism in five months, according to a school-wide email from President Rick Commons. The swastika was poked into a bulletin board in the student lounge, and no culprits have been identified, Commons said.

The school had already reported three previous incidents of antisemitic vandalism, each in different places. In September, a swastika was found drawn onto a whiteboard; in October, the words “Hitler Rocks” and several swastikas were found carved into a desk; and in December, “swastika-like symbols” were found scratched into two desks, according to Commons’s emails.

Calling the incidents “infuriatingly familiar and deeply disturbing on multiple levels,” Commons said they represent persistent demonstrations of hate that affect the community. 

“This is not a minor issue of mischievous graffiti,” Commons said. “This is the repeated, deliberate presentation of a symbol of hate, a symbol of the historic scourge of antisemitism, a symbol of the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust. These drawings, however small, are not just hateful to Jewish students and community members; they do real damage to the sense of belonging that we all should be able to count on at Harvard-Westlake.” 

In his email, Commons said the school has formed a new committee focused on antisemitism in response to the incidents. 

“In the fall, we formed an Antisemitism Working Group, which is focused on three primary areas: curriculum review and professional development for teachers, programming on-and off-campus for students and support for Jewish students,” Commons said. “In addition, our [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] Office will continue to provide education about hate speech and hate symbols, as well as give special support to both our upper and middle school Jewish Clubs.”

Commons said that in addition to investigating who is responsible for the vandalism, the school is taking measures to prevent future incidents. 

“We are doing all we can to identify the person or persons responsible, including increasing security, and I ask anyone with any information that might help our investigation to please come forward,” Commons said.