A swastika was found outside the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy
By Liora Langman, Staff Writer
On Friday, October 8, the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy was vandalized with an image of a Swastika with the word “neo” above it. It is unknown who is responsible. The Munk School is named after Peter Munk, a Hungarian-Jewish businessman and philanthropist. It is worth mentioning that whoever is responsible for the vandalism chose the Munk School, a building named after a Holocaust survivor.
Munk was born in 1927 in Budapest but had to flee with his family from his birthplace to Switzerland because of the rising Nazi regime. Munk and his family fled on the Kasztner Train, which consisted of 35 cattle wagons that left Budapest on the 30th of June, 1944. It carried over 1,600 Jews who were meant to be taken to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp, but took them to Switzerland after a large ransom paid by a Swiss Orthodox Jew, Yitzchak Sternbuch. Years later in 1948, with just a small suitcase, twenty-year-old Munk arrived in Toronto. He immediately felt welcome and developed a connection to Toronto, despite his lack of English skills and social connections. Munk loved his adoptive city and contributed to its growth and prosperity in many ways during his lifetime. He donated $6.4 million to the University of Toronto to finance the construction of a school for global affairs & public policy.
Munk has shared his stories of the Holocaust and the trauma that came with it. In an interview, Munk talked about his mother who was deported to Auschwitz: “My mother survived, she was one of the oldest survivors ever, she was a tough girl.”
The graffiti also made Jewish students at the University of Toronto feel uncomfortable and vulnerable due to the lack of attention paid by non-Jewish students. Nava Wolfish, a first year student expressed “I felt a little bit of outrage when I saw what people cared about, the only people that really said anything were other Jewish students, and if only Jewish students are posting about something that affects the Jewish community nobody else is ever going to see or care about it. I was wondering why none of my non-Jewish friends took a stance on it, and that made me feel very isolated as a Jewish student.” Hillel, the center for Jewish life, at the University of Toronto also took to Instagram to speak out on behalf of Jewish students. They released a statement on October 8, 2022 in which they expressed:
“That a building, donning the name of a prominent Jewish donor, would be defaced by such a hateful and antisemetic symbol, is emblematic of a larger problem at the University of Toronto. We are outraged, and we call on the administration to condemn antisemitism and take meaningful steps to ensure Jewish students are safe on campus.” Hillel has kept Jewish students updated on Instagram, posting that the swastika has since been covered and will be removed.