Swastika at Hillel sets off Santa Cruz investigation

Student Rabbi Shalom Bochner, who will become executive director of Santa Cruz Hillel in the summer, said that in general, UCSC has not been experiencing the tensions between pro-Palestinian groups and Jewish students that have played out on some other campuses.

"This was probably the act of a 15-year-old and I would hate for it to be blown out of proportion," he added.

Bochner suspects the swastika was carved with either a key or a rock. Additionally, a Hillel banner that was hanging above the building was cut down.

Sgt. Kevin Vogel of the Santa Cruz Police Department said the incident was being treated as a possible hate crime, but the police had no leads.

The camera, which belongs to the police department, will stay in place indefinitely, unless it is needed for another case, Vogel said. He added that he had been in touch with police in Davis, where an Israeli flag hanging from the eaves of the campus Hillel was set on fire.

"We don't see a connection, but these things need to be taken seriously," he said, adding that the investigation would remain open.

Bochner believes the Santa Cruz incident was not politically motivated. "It's a hate crime in the broader sense, but no one took this as a threatening act," he said.

Jonathan Bernstein, director of the Pacific Northwest region of the Anti-Defamation League, said he was happy to hear that police were taking it seriously.

"You never want to simply dismiss these things as childhood pranks because you never know for sure."

— Alexandra J. Wall