Things are not always as they seem at Oberlin, and other college campuses.
An Oberlin College professor, who is Jewish, recently awoke in the middle of the night after hearing noise on his front porch. When he walked out the front door he discovered some broken shells (it’s unclear what kind or size) and a note tucked under a mezuzah on his door.
The attack generated not only a campus-wide email from the Oberlin president, but also widespread national and local media coverage.
The professor and his wife’s names already are public, so I won’t redact them from the police report, which stated:
On November 17, 2016 the Oberlin Police Department received a telephone call from Benjamin Kuperman at approximately 3:40 am who stated he heard a noise outside his home and when he went downstairs, he found a note outside of his door. At that time, I was dispatched to the residence.
I arrived shortly after and made contact with Benjamin Kuperman and his wife, Elizabeth Kuperman. Benjamin stated that they were both asleep and were awoken at approximately 3:25 am when they both heard what sounded like a tapping sound outside of their home. At that point, Benjamin stated he went downstairs and checked his outside front porch to see if someone was at the front door. When Benjamin checked the outside of his residence, he noticed the sea shells on the porch were smashed. Additionally, Benjamin noticed a note had been left behind and placed behind a mezuzah he had hung up on his door frame. The note was on a ripped piece of white paper and appeared to have letters glued onto the white paper that spelled out “GAS JEWS DIE..
Both Benjamin and Elizabeth stated they did not see anyone outside the residence and did not hear any vehicles outside. Benjamin is a computer science professor at Oberlin College and Elizabeth stated she is a stay at home wife and both said they have not had any recent issues with anyone from Oberlin College, visitors to their home, or any of their friends and neighbors. All of the doors to the house were locked and it did not appear that entry was gained to the residence. Both Benjamin and Elizabeth believe they were targeted due to their Jewish religion.
This matter is still under investigation.
The manner in which this hate crime was carried out is very unusual.
First, the perpetrator must have known the Kupermans or at least known about them, in some general way if not personally. How or why else to target them specifically? This was not directed at a public space, such as a Synagogue or cemetery, where the text would be seen by many people.
Second, this was not a spontaneous drive-by attack. Someone had to prepare the note carefully, cutting out letters to paste. Had there been something spray-painted or written in marker, it would be more usual.
Third, who uses a torn piece of paper for such a note? That in itself is odd.
Fourth, if the note were so small that it could tuck behind a mezuzah, the perp might have known of the existence of the mezuzah beforehand. How else to be sure there would be a place to put the note (many are flush with the doorway on which mounted, leaving no space)? It’s possible a larger piece of paper was torn on the spot because there was no place to put a larger paper, but why then put the lettering beforehand on just one part of the paper?
So all of this points, in the absence of other evidence, to a premeditated and planned attack by someone familiar specifically with the Kupermans, and their front porch.
The immediate finger pointing has gone in two directions. I’ve seen many Facebook postings suggesting this is part of an (alleged) wave of hate crimes caused by Trump’s election. That is a convenient, but dubious, political narrative unless there is some connected explanation as to why the Kupermans would be targeted as opposed to some more public space or more high profile political person on campus.
I’ve also seen the claim that this likely was done by a supporter of recently fired professor Joy Karega, who posted antisemitic conspiracy theories on Facebook and was a BDS supporter. Certainly, Oberlin has a very sordid recent history of antisemitic agitation — usually under the banner of the BDS movement — something which earlier this year caused over 200 alumni to send a letter to Oberlin’s president. But why would a Karega supporter target Kuperman? He was not on either of the committees that recommended discipline.
No one seems to be considering a third option — that this was a hoax by a student or activist wanting to create a narrative of antisemitism, for whatever the political purpose (anti-Trumpism, anti-Koregaism, etc.).
Oberlin has a history of such trolling of the campus.
Some of you may remember my August 22, 2013 post,The Great Oberlin College Racism Hoax of 2013:
A massive racism hoax took place at Oberlin College in February 2013 in which two students made seemingly racist, anti-Semitic and other such posters, graffiti and emails for the purpose of getting a reaction on campus, not because they believed the hostile messages. At least one of the two was an Obama supporter with strong progressive, anti-racist politics.
School officials and local police knew the identity of the culprits, who were responsible for most if not all of such incidents on campus, yet remained silent as the campus reacted as if the incidents were real. National media attention focused on campus racism at Oberlin for weeks without knowing it was a hoax.
The hoax was confirmed when Chuck Ross of The Daily Caller recently obtained police records. Now it’s out in the open. Here is the history of how the hoax developed, played out in the media, and was covered up by the Oberlin administration.
Things would get much worse after that at Oberlin, even after the hoax was fully revealed, as we described in Oberlin racism hoax exploited to advance “even more extreme policies”. The hoax was the pretext to advance even more intrusive progressive policies on campus.
I explained the Oberlin situation in a radio interview:
Michelle Malkin explained the 2013 hoax in the specific context of the Oberlin ethos:
There have been numerous cases of anti-Muslim or other attacks (falsely) attributed to Trump supporters which have been shown to be hoaxes, including one at Williams College that mirrors the motives of the Oberlin 2013 hoax, Students Face Disciplinary Action After Hoaxing ‘KKK’ Vandalism:
Two Williams College students are now facing disciplinary action after hoaxing vandalism which appeared to be Ku Klux Klan (KKK) inspired days after the 2016 Election.
The two students, whom the college has not publicly named, poured fake blood on staircases of a building and spelled out “AMKKK KILL” on the walls, according to the Williams Record.…
After investigating more than 40 persons of interest, police concluded that two students performed the act as a statement against President-Elect Donald Trump.
Williams College President Adam Falk said in a statement that the two students admitted “they had committed the vandalism to bring attention to the effects of the presidential election on many within our community.”…
The Massachusetts hate crime hoax is one of many that has occurred since Trump’s victory against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
In Louisiana, a Muslim student claimed she was attacked by Trump supporters and had her hijab pulled off her head, only for police to discover that she fabricated the story, as Breitbart Texas reported. The student is now facing misdemeanor charges.
In Ohio, a Bowling Green State University student faces similar charges after repeatedly misleading police investigators about a claimed rock-throwing attack she suffered at the hands of Trump supporters.
It will be interesting to see if the police are able to find the perpetrator.
The simplest and most likely explanation is that this was an act of antisemitism — but don’t rule out the possibility of some other motive.