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Sunday, October 26, 2014

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University library globes removed after Israel scratched off

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WINDSOR — The University of Windsor has removed three globes from its Leddy Library after complaints that the State of Israel had been defaced on them.

Peter Zimmerman, the library’s head of information services, said the university is “investigating” whether the globes can be repaired. The university’s human rights office was also alerted.

Zimmerman called the defacement, which was reported in January, “disturbing” with its “obvious undertones.”

As for repairing the globes, he said, “We’d have to find someone with the right expertise and make a determination whether or not it’s really viable to [repair] properly.”

Zimmerman said the word Israel had been scraped off the globes, but not the actual geographical state, as “the word [Israel] typically appears in the Mediterranean next to two of the actual countries.”

He said the globes were in the curriculum resource centre media room, a “public area,” but one that’s not prominent. Two of the globes were “fairly large” and sat on tables.

He said it’s the first time something like that had occurred in the two buildings that make up the library.

Library administrators acted after being contacted by the student newspaper the Lance. The paper spoke with Gavin Wolch, a third-year law student who had seen the globes.

He told The CJN that the Lance brought the issue to the attention of the administration, and the globes “were gone the next day.”

Wolch had seen one globe and the reporter another two, he said. But Wolch added that the globes had been in that state for several years.

“The first time I saw them was actually about five or six years ago,” when he was a master’s student, said Wolch, who is from Winnipeg but is now a Windsor resident.

“It’s probably something that comes up in conversation, I guess, every two years when someone spots it and says something,” he said.

Wolch, who is Jewish, called the vandalism “cowardly and small.”

Bryan Kravetz, president of the campus Jewish Students Association and also a third-year law student, said he had not seen the globes and was “pretty surprised” by the vandalism.

“I do think that the campus here is pretty friendly,” said Kravetz, who’s from Toronto. “There’s not that much political tension on the Windsor campus.”

He said during a recent talk by Jerusalem Post chief political correspondent Gil Hoffman, pro-Palestinian students attended, “and they asked questions at the end and they were actually very respectful.”

Kravetz said he had seen anti-Israel slogans on posters in the library in the past. And there was an incident of anti-Arab graffiti last fall in a new campus multifaith centre, in an area where Muslim students wash their feet before prayer.

Kravetz said that while the campus is generally calm, he’s concerned about an upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week taking place for the first time since he’s been at the university.

“I haven’t really felt threatened as a Jew, but I guess we’ll see what happens.”

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