Cornell University Grapples With Antisemitism Threats and Vandalism Incidents
Cornell University faced a heightened state of alert on October 29 due to several distressing antisemitic messages that targeted the university’s Jewish community. These messages were believed to have been posted on a public platform.
The threatening antisemitic messages, which even identified a specific location, notably the Centre for Jewish Living at 104 West, were posted on an external website unaffiliated with Cornell. Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack swiftly reported this matter to law enforcement. Cornell’s police were already on-site to investigate the situation, and the FBI was notified of a potential hate crime. In response, students were advised through an Instagram post to avoid the affected building.
President Martha E. Pollack emphasised that the threats of violence were entirely intolerable, and the individuals responsible for these messages would be pursued to the fullest extent of the law. The immediate priority was to ensure the safety of the community.
She strongly asserted that antisemitism would not be tolerated at Cornell University. President Pollack had repeatedly condemned bigotry and hatred, both on and off campus, during her tenure. She recognised the genuine and destructive impact of antisemitism on Jewish students, faculty, staff, and the entire Cornell community, urging unity against forces that promote division and hatred.
This unsettling incident occurred just a week after Cornell University’s New York campus was reportedly vandalised with anti-Israel graffiti. The graffiti featured offensive messages, including “F-k Israel” and “Zionism = Racism.” Cleanup efforts by university staff were initiated to remove this spray-painted defacement on campus sidewalks. The identities of those responsible for this graffiti remained unknown.
Notably, this incident followed a controversy involving a Cornell University professor who took a leave of absence after facing criticism for remarks made at a pro-Palestinian protest. In a viral video, the professor, Russell Rickford, characterised a Hamas attack in Israel as “exhilarating” and “energizing.” Russell Rickford, an associate professor of history at the university’s Ithaca, New York, campus, faced repercussions due to his statements.