Less than a week after swastika graffiti was discovered at a dorm at SUNY Geneseo, the co-founder of a nonprofit organization aimed at combating campus anti-Semitism spoke in Buffalo and Rochester.
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin is the director of the AMCHA Initiative. Her organization released a study showing a surge in anti-Semitic incidents at more than 100 college campuses with the largest Jewish student enrollment in the first half of this year.
Rossman-Benjamin encourages students who feel targeted to speak to their school administration and reach out to Jewish organizations.
"Because other groups are speaking up when they feel targeted. No matter what the source of that targeting is, they speak up," said Rossman-Benjamin. "I think Jewish students, for whatever reason, sometimes are afraid to speak up. They feel that there might be retaliation; there has been in the past."
The word “Trump” was spray painted next to a swastika found in a common area of a SUNY Geneseo dorm Friday. Rossman-Benjamin says the rhetoric of the Trump presidential campaign is one of many potential factors contributing to anti-Semitic activity. Another, she said, is the Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Rossman-Benjamin says there is a clear and necessary response to anti-Semitism, but it is not a quick fix.
"In the same way that we educated society about certain kinds of bigotry like racism, like sexism, like homophobia; where we are as a society today is very different from say, forty years ago with those bigotries," she asked. "That's the kind of education and reorientation and sensitivity training that we want to bring to the issue of anti-Semitism."