Anti-Semitic threats against Jewish Cornell students reported to FBI

By | October 30, 2023

Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, notified the FBI of a potential hate crime after anti-Semitic messages threatened the school’s Jewish community and referenced the ongoing conflict. Israel-Gaza War were posted to an online forum on Sunday.

The threats specifically targeted a university building, the Cornell Center for Jewish Living, University President Martha E. Pollack, said in a press release on Sunday.

Cornell police were immediately notified of the “series of horrific, anti-Semitic messages” and are investigating the matter, Pollack said. “Police will continue to remain on site to ensure the safety of our students and community members.”

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 on Cornell’s discussion board on a Greek life website and widely dismissed.

One article called Jewish students “rats” and said, “If you see a Jewish ‘person’ on campus, follow them home and slit their throat.” Another post was titled “I’m going to shoot 104 West,” an apparent reference to Cornell’s kosher and multicultural dining hall.

“There is no place for anti-Semitism or violence of any kind,” James said. “Campuses must remain safe spaces for our students. »

The messages to Cornell’s Jewish community are the latest in a series of incidents that have rocked college campuses since attack on Israel by Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 people on October 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” in front of a Jewish fraternity at Georgia Tech, according to the Washington Post reported. At Stanford University, an instructor asked Jewish and Israeli students to stand in the corner of a classroom, the Forward Jewish news agency reported. reported. And at Cornell, at a rally, a professor said that while he abhorred violence, he felt “uplifted” by the Hamas attack, the Cornell Daily Sun, a student newspaper, reported. reported.

War in the Middle East ignites college campuses and raises fears of anti-Semitism

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

In the United States, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents have increased, advocacy groups say.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said As of Wednesday, it received 774 complaints about incidents motivated by Islamophobia since October 7 – the largest wave of complaints since 2015, the group said. Among this 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 As of Wednesday, it had recorded a total of 312 anti-Semitic incidents since October 7, including incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault. These incidents represent an increase of nearly 400 percent compared to the same period last year, the ADL said.

After the violent messages at Cornell on Sunday, a Jewish organization at the school, Cornell Hillel, request 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 conducts daily religious services, provides kosher food, offers residence hall and hosts social programs. “Through our diverse Jewish resources, our mission is to provide you with a warm, welcoming, and supportive Jewish experience at Cornell,” the center’s website says. States.

“Threats of violence are absolutely intolerable and we will ensure that the person(s) who posted them are punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Pollack said in his statement. “Our immediate goal is to keep the community safe; we will continue to prioritize this.

Nick Anderson contributed to this report.

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