Attempted Arson Near YU: Where is YU Security When We Need Them?  

By: Aaron Shaykevich Emily Goldberg  |  March 11, 2024

By Aaron Shaykevich, Editor-in-Chief, and Emily Goldberg, Publication Manager and Layout Editor

On February 24, 2024, an Israeli/American flag hung up near Yeshiva University was vandalized in a hateful arson attempt. While this crime was committed over two weeks ago, YU students have yet to be notified. On Friday, March 8, the NYPD publicly released security camera footage of the attempted arson which took place a block away from Yeshiva University. The video from this attack shows a figure in a black hoodie approaching the newly-opened kosher restaurant Falafel Crunch at around 2:50 PM, where the flag was displayed, and attempting to burn it down with an aerosol can. The figure first stood on a table outside the cafe to reach the flag, but after failing to commit arson, he fell off the table, knocking the flag down with him. At this point the suspect is still not under NYPD custody.

This offense is one of many faced by the Jewish community and Jewish college students following October 7, 2023. In December, UPenn students vandalized property by writing “Intifada” and “Free Gaza” on a university building. However, at YU, there have been relatively few instances of antisemitic attacks reported by YU security. Students, including us, have felt relatively safe at YU where any small instance of harm has been reported on and made public to YU students via email relatively quickly. It seems as though YU has consistently informed its students of security incidents both on YU campuses as well as those near but not directly on campus. Most recently, on March 8, YU security emailed all students regarding an anti-Israel protest that would take place that day and security measures that would be in place. 

On November 9, 2023, an email from YU security to students publicized an incident that occurred off-campus where “graffiti was found on a Non-Yeshiva University building near the Wilf Campus.” The email added that a “police report was filed, and it is being treated as a bias incident.” Why is it that the graffiti found near YU was reported but not an attempted arson? There seems to be an apparent inconsistency as to what is reported by YU security. 

YU Security has yet to respond to our email sent on March 8 inquiring about the incident and their lack of coverage. 

The failure of YU security to notify students of the attempted arson is extremely scary to us. YU students should know when things like this happen, especially when they occur so close to campus, as it is incredibly important for students to be well-informed of these security risks. The current vandal has yet to be taken into custody, and having knowledge of his appearance (which can be seen in the NYPD video) is crucial for anyone on campus to remain vigilant. YU security has the confidence of its students to report on these instances, but for some reason has failed to do so here. 

For us, YU security’s failure to inform the student body of this incident raises two possible concerns. If YU security was aware of this incident, why did they choose not to inform the student body about it? More crucially, if YU was not made aware, then are YU and the NYPD communicating productively? If the reality is that YU security was uninformed of this instance, why did the NYPD not share their information with YU? Either way, it appears as though YU students are facing unnecessary risks by being left in the dark. 

YU students have had a $375 cost added to their tuition for the Spring 2024 semester due to an added security fee. When announcing this increase in security YU stated that among the changes, they “have ramped up [their] use of the NYPD Paid Detail Program, which includes off-duty policemen who provide uniformed security for YU.” They added that “The NYPD also conducts daily intelligence briefings on-campus activities and assigns resources to our campuses to support events and gatherings.” 

We hoped that the elevated security and NYPD collaboration with YU would leave us feeling safer. However, now that we know that YU security has failed to inform its students about an attempted arson, can we really be so sure?