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Midlarsky and Students Protest Anti-Semitic Incident

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Prof Midlarsky

Elizabeth Midlarsky, the TC faculty member whose office door recently was found spray-painted with a swastika, joined a group of students on the steps of the Zankel Building to protest.

Midlarsky and Students Protest Anti-Semitic Incident

TC's President joins demonstration against escalating hatred

Elizabeth Midlarsky, the TC faculty member whose office door recently was found spray-painted with a swastika, joined a group of students on the steps of the Zankel Building this morning to protest not only that hate crime but what the Teachers College Jewish Association (TCJA), in a prepared statement, called "the pervasiveness of anti-Jewish sentiments in the world today and specifically on our world-leading college campus."

Midlarsky, Professor of Psychology and Education, also received anti-Semitic materials in her mailbox earlier in October containing a demeaning caricature of a Jewish man and an advertisement for a book devoted to denying the Holocaust. In addition to the swastika, the name plate on her door was spray-painted with a large X.

"These acts have not occurred in a vacuum," Midlarsky said at the event, which was attended by the media, including several television and radio crews. "During my 17 years here, students have come to me singly and in groups, crying about the horribly anti-Semitic materials found all over the campus. What the targeting of a specific person -- myself -- indicates is that when ignored, these acts of bias escalate."

Midlarsky, who work includes a focus on heroism during the Holocaust, added that while "the Jews have ceased to be considered a - minority group in conversations on diversity - in reality we are among the smallest of ethnoreligious minority groups in America. There are those among us who are visible for our achievements, and may appear to be well-established. Nevertheless, many of us are highly vulnerable, because of the difficulties in the present as well as in the recent historical past."

TC President Susan Fuhrman, who also spoke at the event, thanked the students who organized it "for inviting me to stand shoulder to shoulder with them here today.

"Teachers College deplores this hateful act, and has zero tolerance for such hate crimes, which have no place in our community," Fuhrman said. "We stand with our students, who have said 'enough' to hate crimes, and in this particular case, to a vicious swastika."

Fuhrman said the fact that Midlarsky, "who has explored issues of heroism during the Holocaust, was the focus of such vitriolic anti-Semitism, just as Professor Madonna Constantine, whose scholarship seeks to promote racial tolerance and understanding, was targeted by the hanging of a noose, confirms us in our belief that Teachers College itself is under assault because we are a center for multi-cultural work."

Rebecca Pasternak, President of the TCJA, said the organization "denounces prejudice directed toward all minority groups and stands in solidarity to support them." But, Pasternak said, "it is specifically anti-Jewish speech and activities that are escalating and being swept under the broader banner of unacceptable intolerance. Among us on campus there are professors, administrators and students in positions of power and influence to denounce such anti-Jewish expressions. With the exception of seldom referenced anti-Semitism, the outcry has amounted to a whisper!"

Directly following the press conference, Midlarsky adjourned to her office, where, filmed by the TV crews, Rabbi Yonah Blum of Columbia University affixed a mezuzah -- a piece of parchment contained in a decorative case that adorns the doorposts of Jewish homes -- was affixed to her door.

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