Addressing campus antisemitism

A tonally inconsistent and unfocused response to Nazism chips away at the school’s hard work to confront it. 


Illustration by Jade Harris

An illustration depicts various posters made by the Jewish Club as measure to address campus antisemitism. The posters were created after five swastikas were found around the school this year.

Claire Conner, Print Managing Editor

“Harry Styles loves Jews, and so should you.” “Without Jews, you wouldn’t have Borat!” “Anti-Zionism is antisemitism.” As a Jew, I know that each of these sentences, written on posters that Jewish Club members hung throughout the school’s hallways last week, is true.

Harry Styles regularly tweets about his appreciation for Jewish traditions, and every gentile should understand their importance to our culture. Sacha Baron Cohen (Olive ’26), the creator of “Borat,” is Jewish and fluent in Hebrew. And anti-Zionism, while often misrepresented as mere criticism of the Israeli government, is the belief that the state of Israel should not exist — an opinion rooted in destruction and not applied to any other country on Earth, including genocidal Russia and totalitarian North Korea.

Despite their accuracy, these words dramatically vary in tone and content — they are an abject failure in messaging, and they diminish both the seriousness and efficacy of the Jewish community’s ultimate mission. The signs were a response to the sudden appearance of Nazi vandalism on campus, with swastikas and a pro-Hitler message found on desks, whiteboards and walls five times during the fall and winter of this year.

Amid these incidents on campus — and a global rise in antisemitic violence documented by the Anti Defamation League — the school administration took firm and immediate action in addressing antisemitism. They launched an investigation into Nazi vandalism at the Upper School, formed an Antisemitism Working Group to review the curriculum and support Jewish students and invited two speakers to discuss antisemitism in mandatory assemblies.

“This is not a minor issue of mischievous graffiti,” President Rick Commons said in an email. “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.”

Commons is absolutely right: Nazism, in our school community and in the world, should be a matter of grave concern. It is not a joke, and no matter the intent of those who spread its symbols, these images represent an endorsement of persecution and genocide.

Members and leaders of Jewish Club undoubtedly agree with this principle. That’s why it’s so baffling that they would dilute and shroud our fight against Nazism with cutesy, pop-culture-oriented and even Zionist messages.

You don’t respond to Nazism with Harry Styles. You don’t respond to Nazism with Borat. You don’t respond to Nazism with Zionism, either — not because Jewish statehood isn’t a protection against persecution but because the Nazi sympathizers you’re confronting said nothing about Zionism and Israeli statehood.

They are engraving symbols of six million Jewish deaths into our place of education and endorsing a continuation of that violence. We must respond with dignity and a unified purpose.