Human Rights

Jewish Oberlin Professor’s House Vandalized After Firing of Anti-Semitic Faculty Member

The home of a Jewish professor at Oberlin College was vandalized last Thursday, with a note saying “Gas Jew Die” left at the door, a few days after a professor at the college was fired for writing and sharing anti-Semitic posts on Facebook.

The professor was identified as Benjamin Kuperman, an associate professor of computer science. The threatening note, composed with cut-out letters from newspapers, was stuck under the mezuzah attached to the doorpost of the home. Furniture on the front porch was also damaged.

Oberlin Police Chief Juan Torres said that the incident will be investigated as a hate crime. College president Marvin Krislov condemned the incident as “a cowardly, hateful act” in an e-mail to students.

“As the General Faculty discussed yesterday, this is a moment of great stress and consternation, both nationally and locally,” Krislov wrote. “We will need each other’s continued compassion and support at this time; please take care of yourselves, your families, and your loved ones. As our community grieves for the loss of dignity and personal/physical safety that comes with these sorts of vile attacks, these events also can galvanize us in our resolve to fight bigotry and hatred wherever and whenever they occur.”

Questions about a possible culture of anti-Semitism at Oberlin have increased since The Tower first reported in February about the social media history of Joy Karega, who was dismissed by the college’s Board of Trustees last Tuesday.

Even before the Karega revelations, an alumni group, Alums for Campus Fairness, brought concerns about anti-Semitism on campus to Krislov’s attention, but received no response. Melissa Landa, president of the Oberlin chapter of the group, lamented the “persistent hostile campus atmosphere” at Oberlin that threatened to “compromise its legacy of academic rigor and social justice.”

The Daily Beast’s Emily Shire observed in April that the lack of decisive action taken by the school in the immediate aftermath of the report on Karega’s postings “was deafening to some, and especially disconcerting because the silence seemed disproportionately reserved to matters related to Judaism or Israel.”

Tablet magazine senior writer Yair Rosenberg also noted the following month that the experiences of Jewish students at Oberlin resulted from “a marriage of deliberate prejudice with empowered ignorance that has increasingly marginalized Jewish students and Jewish life on campus.” Rosenberg called on the administration to “forthrightly combat misinformed stereotypes about Jews, and to confront anti-Israel activism used as an excuse to intimidate and bully Jewish students.”

[Photo: Oberlin College / YouTube ]