Elizabeth Midlarsky, a Jewish professor who teaches and researches the Holocaust at Columbia Teachers College, experienced first-hand the resurgence of anti-Semitic crimes across the country since President Trump took office.
Midlarsky walked into the entryway of her New York City office on Wednesday to find it vandalized with two large swastikas on the wall written in spray paint, along with the anti-Semitic slur — “Yid.”
“I was in shock,” Midlarsky told the student newspaper. “I stopped for a moment, because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
A professor of psychology, she recognized the incident as a part of a national rise in anti-Semitic crimes.
“I’m usually not a fearful person, but they got me. I’m afraid,” she told The Washington Post.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported that the number of anti-Semitic crimes in the U.S. rose 57 percent in 2017 compared to 2016.
This is the greatest single-year increase recorded by the ADL, and the second-highest number recorded since the organization began compiling data.
The ADL’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said Trump’s Twitter feed during his campaign emboldened anti-Semites.
“We have a situation where literally the presidential Twitter account is re-tweeting memes that originate on sub-reddits that are developed by some of the worst segments of society,” Greenblatt said.
“The president’s re-tweeting of white supremacists and anti-Semitic memes during the campaign and, more recently, sharing tweets from a UK racist group — those are alarming. Those tweets and rhetoric have emboldened and given encouragement to the worst anti-Semites and bigots.”
Last month, 11 people were gunned down at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh by a white male domestic terrorist. Just hours before the shootings, he used the social network Gab.com to post malicious anti-Semitic messages and conspiracy theories.
The same day of the shooting Trump still hosted a Midwest campaign rally. He did not take the opportunity to outright condemn anti-Semitism or white nationalism.
The Pittsburgh branch of Bend the Arc, a national organization for progressive Jews focused on social justice, wrote a letter to Trump demanding he denounce white nationalism and stop “targeting” minorities.
In regard to the vandalism in Midlarsky’s office, the New York Police Department said no one had been arrested yet and the hate crime task force is investigating.
Columbia Teachers College president Thomas Bailey said in a statement, “We unequivocally condemn any expression of hatred, which has no place in our society. We are outraged and horrified by this act of aggression and use of this vile anti-Semitic symbol against a valued member of our community.”