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Students walk through the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, United States, April 11, 2023.
Cornell University police are investigating a series of anti-Semitic threats made against the school’s Jewish community in online posts over the weekend, its president said.
“Earlier today, a series of horrific anti-Semitic messages threatening violence against our Jewish community and specifically naming 104 West – the headquarters of the Center for Jewish Living – were posted on a website unaffiliated with Cornell,” said President Martha E. Pollack in a statement. A declaration Sunday.
Law enforcement was notified and the university police department also notified the FBI of a potential hate crime, Pollack said.
Authorities were at 104 West — home to the campus’ kosher and multicultural dining hall — and would remain there “to ensure the safety of our students and community members,” the president wrote.
Cornell Hillel Organization warned students and staff should avoid the 104 West building Sunday evening “out of an abundance of caution.”
These threats come amid growing tensions on college campuses in the United States. war between Israel and Hamas rages in the Middle East. At many universities, students participate in fervent protests as some administrators, including those at elite institutions. like Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania – grappling with how to recognize the wide-ranging concerns of students while dealing with backlash from influential donors demanding that colleges take a clearer stance on the conflict.
Pollack said in his statement that violent threats are “absolutely intolerable” and that the university strives to prioritize community safety.
These threats come just days after several campus sidewalks were vandalized with anti-Israel graffiti, according to the university newspaperThe Cornell Review.
“We will not tolerate anti-Semitism at Cornell,” the president wrote. “The virulence and destructiveness of anti-Semitism is real and has a profound impact on our Jewish students, faculty and staff, as well as the entire Cornell community. This incident highlights the need to combat the forces that divide us and drive us to hatred. This cannot be what defines us at Cornell.
Cornell senior Zoe Bernstein, who is Jewish, told CNN she was heartbroken reading the anti-Semitic messages, which she said have spread fear and distress among the campus Jewish community.
“This is completely unprecedented in my life and in the lives of, I would say, almost all of my peers. … It’s really deeply troubling and upsetting,” said Bernstein, president of Cornellians for Israel, a campus organization that aims to host community and educational events for students with a connection to Israel.
Bernstein noted that the threats are particularly worrying for students like her who are descendants of the Holocaust and pogrom survivors.
Concerns about the war, coupled with growing unease on campus, began to consume the lives of many of Bernstein’s peers, she said.
“It’s really, really hard to focus on anything other than all of this,” she said. “I really hope we can get to a point soon where things calm down and we can focus on our academics again, because I know students from all backgrounds have really struggled.”
“My ultimate wish is that no violence occurs on this campus,” she added.
Cornell is located in Ithaca, New York, approximately 60 miles south of Syracuse.