Fire at Jewish Student Center Ruled Arson

University of Delaware / Wikimedia Commons
August 27, 2020

The University of Delaware's Jewish student center was torched by an arsonist who is still at large.

The university's Chabad Center for Jewish Life went up in flames late Tuesday night, causing approximately $150,000 in damages. A Delaware fire marshal announced that the fire was arson and a criminal investigation is underway. The university has withheld labeling the incident a "hate crime" until the investigation is complete, though it affirmed its solidarity with the Jewish community. The building was not occupied at the time of the fire.

"At this time, the Fire Marshal's office has found no indicators that this case was a hate crime," university president Dennis Assanis said. "The Chabad Center ... is an active part of UD's religious, faith, and spiritual diversity. We affirm our solidarity with the Jewish community at this difficult time."

The pro-Israel group BDS Report told the Washington Free Beacon that it is actively calling on university officials to condemn what appears to be anti-Semitism. "We condemn this attack on the University of Delaware's Jewish community and call on the university officials to condemn the rise of antisemitism on college campuses," a spokesperson said.

Universities have increasingly become a haven for anti-Semitism—often in connection with anti-Israel activism. At Florida State University, the student senate elected as president a student who said "f— Israel" and "stupid Jew" with little backlash. At Pomona College, the university refused to condemn its senior class president for claiming Jewish people "hate brown [people]" and "worship" World War II.

Delaware Chabad students kickstarted a GoFundMe campaign to help rebuild the historical center. In less than a day, the group raised more than $120,000.

The Chabad arson took place on the same campus that houses the Biden Institute, the university's school of public policy and administration. The Biden campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.