Police in Leeds are investigating after the campus Hillel House was desecrated with “Free Palestine” graffiti on Thursday night. The CST is also said to be investigating the incident which UJS and Leeds JSoc have called “shocking and outrageous”.
The red graffiti was sprayed across the Jewish building on Leeds University campus and was discovered early on Friday morning.
The Union of Jewish Students and Leeds Jewish Society have said they were “heartbroken and angry after an uplifting and inspiring challah bake.”
The statement went on, “The University of Leeds has serious questions to answer.”
Leeds JSoc, one of the largest in the country, with hundreds of members, said they were working with the Community Security Trust and police to ensure those who vandalised the building were punished.
The CST called on anyone with further information to contact them and the police, who are treating the incident as a hate crime.
The incident comes after controversy surrounding the return of the Leeds University chaplain, Rabbi Zecharia Deutsch, an Israeli who has served with his IDF reserve unit during the war.
On Friday, a “No War Criminals On Campus” protest was set to be held outside the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff building against the rabbi and his wife.
The Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign called for the protest, which was also encouraged by The Muslim Association of Britain and the Muslim news blog 5 Pillars.
The Muslim Association of Britain posted a statement aimed at Leeds University: “How can your students feel safe with a war criminal complicit in genocide roaming your campus?”
A spokesperson for the University of Leeds said: “We are deeply saddened that our Jewish community appears to have been targeted by this criminal act.
“The University takes incidents of this nature extremely seriously and the safety and welfare of our students and staff is our number one priority. We recognise that students and staff across our community have been deeply affected by the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza, and will continue to provide support across our campus.
“We are working with West Yorkshire Police and the property owners as they investigate this incident, and have supported the UJS in swiftly cleaning and repainting the property.”
West Yorkshire Police said: “Police are investigating reports of criminal damage to Hillel House, on Springfield Mount, Leeds.
“It was reported at 7:09am this morning that graffiti had been found on the building. This is being treated as a hate crime.
“The graffiti was found this morning and at this time it is not known what time this damage has been caused.
“Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Richard Armstead said: “I know that this incident will cause concern for university students and members of the wider Jewish community, and I want to reassure them that this kind of hate will not be tolerated.
““This graffiti is being removed and we are conducting extensive enquiries to identify the person or persons responsible.”
“Police are appealing for anyone who has witnessed any suspicious activity in the area or who has any information about who may be responsible to contact Leeds District CID via Live Chat or by calling 101, quoting crime reference 13240074649.
“Information can also be passed anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.