Anti-semitic vandalism in Kingston draws concern

Over the past week, several instances of anti-semitism have been discovered in Kingston, specifically in the form of anti-semitic graffiti.

One instance occurred on October 1st, when an antisemitic image was found on a refrigerator in one of the common rooms of Queen’s University's Albert Street residence.

Students expressed their concerns to Queen's officials, stating how disgusted they are with the graffiti, some claiming that they feel targeted and unsafe on campus. 

Queen's then launched an investigation in response to the discovery and addressed the hateful vandalism with a statement. 

“The University is committed to addressing any form of racism or discrimination, and to ongoing work to promote a safe, healthy, and inclusive community,” the University's statement read.

“Anyone with information concerning this incident is encouraged to contact Residence Life or Campus Security and Emergency Services. Should the perpetrator be identified as a student, they may be subject to sanctions under Queen’s Non-Academic Misconduct system."

No updates have come of the investigation thus far, and the University encouraged students to make use of supports through the Human Rights Advisory Services.

The anti semitic graffiti hasn't been unique to the Queen's Campus however; anti-semitic messaging has been discovered being plastered at two separate Princess Street businesses this past week. One of the messaging included the swastika and another message called for the murder of jews.

These recent discoveries come just a week after Kingston Police requested public assistance as they sought an individual who left an anti semitic flyer on a vehicle's windshield in the west end

YGK News spoke with Nati Pressman, a Jewish advocate and Queen's University ArtSci student. 

Pressman is the Jewish Awareness Director for Queen's Hillel, the school's home for Jewish life on campus, as well as a representative and leader in many Jewish organizations. 

She says the targeting of Jewish people is far from a new phenomenon. 

“It isn’t easy to articulate the specific emotion I feel when an incident of antisemitism happens in Kingston or beyond,” Pressman said. 

“I feel upset that Jews are targeted for merely existing in this world. I feel lonely and isolated when it often feels the only people who speak about anti semitism are people within the [Jewish] community. Jewish students at Queens have faced multiple incidents of anti semitism. [They] deserve to have their voices heard and amplified.”

Anti-semitic behaviour has recently increased not only in Kingston, but in many countries, after famous rapper/producer Kanye West publicized racist and discriminatory comments attacking Jewish individuals.

The spike in hateful behaviour has caused fear for many Jewish communities, and Pressman says taking the simple step of being an ally to the local Jewish community is important. 

“I am not asking anyone to become an expert in Jewish history,” said Pressman.

“[Just] to listen to the concerns of the Jewish community here in Kingston.”

Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News, for the Local Journalism Intitiative