Austin/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on June 10, 2024
Lakeway and University of Texas Combat Surge in Antisemitic Vandalism in Austin AreaSource: Facebook / Austin Police Department

The City of Lakeway and the University of Texas community in Austin have recently experienced disturbing antisemitic vandalism, with local authorities and community members responding to combat the hatred. KXAN reports that Lakeway city workers swiftly painted over graffiti, and Mayor Tom Kilgore made clear that such vandalism would not be tolerated. "For those who consider doing similar acts in the future, we will remain vigilant and will not tolerate vandalism or hate of this nature", Kilgore stated.

In a closely connected news thread, the Texas Hillel Foundation in West Campus, the hub of Jewish student life at the University of Texas, was targeted with "vulgar antisemitic epithets," a statement described the events described the sentiment and subsequent responses, indeed the foundation's building and parking lot bore the brunt of these acts, with "Free Palestine" and accusations against Israel prominent among them, according to the Austin American Statesman. Clean-up efforts by West Campus Ambassadors began promptly, with the university issuing statements strongly condemning the actions and reiterating zero tolerance toward antisemitism.

These incidents follow broader national patterns, with the Anti-Defamation League accounting for a marked increase in antisemitic episodes across the country – the Lakeway incidents adding to the 8,873 antisemitic incidents in a 2024 report, the highest number on record since 1979. Meanwhile, the University of Texas community has been dealing with its own rise in such hateful expressions, specifically after an outbreak of conflict in the Middle East instigated by Hamas on October 7.

The widespread impact of these events is palpable, as Texas Hillel seeks to maintain a space of safety and celebration for Jewish students, working tirelessly to support and uplift students in the wake of these acts, sentiments echoed in their statement affirming that, "While we are saddened by these hateful acts, they do not detract from the excellent work our student leaders, staff, and board are doing to support Jewish students," Austin American Statesman reported. Local law enforcement remains engaged, with the hope of deterring instances of vandalism and fostering more respectful and inclusive communities.