HomeNewsCornell advises students to avoid campus Jewish center after threats

Cornell advises students to avoid campus Jewish center after threats

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Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., notified the FBI of a potential hate crime after antisemitic messages threatening the school’s Jewish community and referencing the ongoing Israel-Gaza war were posted to an online forum on Sunday.

The threats specifically named one university building, the Cornell Center for Jewish Living, the university’s president, Martha E. Pollack, said in a statement Sunday.

Cornell police were immediately notified about the “series of horrendous, antisemitic messages” and are investigating the matter, Pollack said. “Police will continue to remain on site to ensure our students and community members are safe.”

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

New York Attorney General Letitia James retweeted screenshots of the messages, which were posted to the Cornell discussion board on a website for Greek life and largely downvoted.

One post called Jewish students “rats” and said, “If you see a Jewish ‘person’ on campus follow them home and slit their throats.” Another post was titled “gonna shoot up 104 west,” an apparent reference to Cornell’s kosher and multicultural dining room.

“There is no space for antisemitism or violence of any kind,” James said. “Campuses must remain safe spaces for our students.”

The messages directed at the Jewish community at Cornell are the latest in a string of incidents that have rattled college campuses since the attack on Israel by Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 people on Oct. 7, according to Israeli authorities. Since then, Israeli attacks have killed at least 8,005 people in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Earlier this month, someone wrote “Free Palestine” outside a Jewish fraternity house at Georgia Tech, The Washington Post reported. At Stanford University, an instructor asked Jewish and Israeli students to stand in the corner of a classroom, the Jewish news organization the Forward reported. And at Cornell during a rally, a professor declared that, while he abhorred violence, he felt “exhilarated” by Hamas’s attack, the Cornell Daily Sun, a student newspaper, reported.

War in Mideast inflames college campuses and raises fears of antisemitism

“Jewish students are fearful and isolated,” Melanie Schwartz, 20, a junior at Cornell, told The Post earlier in October.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) visited the Cornell campus in Ithaca, N.Y. to express solidarity against the antisemitic threats, her office said in a statement Monday.

“We will not tolerate threats or hatred, or antisemitism, or any kind of hatred that makes people feel vulnerable and exposes people and makes them feel insecure in a place that they should be enjoying their campus life without fear that someone could cause them harm,” she said after a roundtable discussion with students at the university’s Center for Jewish Life.

Across the United States, antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents have spiked, advocacy groups say.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Wednesday that it had received 774 complaints of incidents motivated by Islamophobia since Oct. 7 — the largest wave of complaints since 2015, the group said. Included among that total was the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old Muslim boy in Illinois who authorities said was targeted because he was Palestinian American.

The Anti-Defamation League said Wednesday that it had recorded a total of 312 antisemitic incidents since Oct. 7, including incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault. The incidents represented a nearly 400 percent increase over the same period last year, the ADL said.

After the violent messages at Cornell on Sunday, a Jewish organization at the school, Cornell Hillel, asked students and staff to avoid the Cornell Center for Jewish Living “out of an abundance of caution.”

The center is a student-run Jewish organization that leads daily religious services, provides kosher food, offers a residence hall and organizes social programming. “Through our various Jewish resources, it is our mission to provide a warm, welcoming, and supportive Jewish experience for you at Cornell,” the center’s website states.

“Threats of violence are absolutely intolerable, and we will work to ensure that the person or people who posted them are punished to the full extent of the law,” Pollack said in her statement. “Our immediate focus is on keeping the community safe; we will continue to prioritize that.”

Nick Anderson and Niha Masih contributed to this report.

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