US

Authorities Investigate Threats Against Cornell University’s Jewish Community as Hate Crime

Authorities Investigate Threats Against Cornell University's Jewish Community as Hate Crime

Authorities are investigating a series of antisemitic threats made against Cornell University’s Jewish community in online posts over the weekend, the school’s president announced.

In a letter to the Cornell community on Sunday, university President Martha E. Pollack revealed that “earlier today, a series of horrendous, antisemitic messages threatening violence to our Jewish community” was posted on a website not affiliated with Cornell. The threats specifically mentioned the campus address of the Center for Jewish Living, she added.

The Cornell University Police Department notified the FBI about a potential hate crime, and officers were present at the living center to provide protection.

“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. Our immediate focus is on keeping the community safe; we will continue to prioritize that,” said Pollack.

The threats come amid rising tensions on college campuses across the US as the war between Israel and Hamas rages on in the Middle East. The Cornell University campus was recently vandalized with anti-Israel graffiti, and a professor took a leave of absence after making controversial comments about the Hamas terror attacks.

The abhorrent comments posted on the Cornell University messaging board included threats of violence, with some of the messages specifically naming the Center for Jewish Living, which also houses the campus’ kosher dining hall. The messages were filled with vile anti-Semitic language, including the repeated use of the word ‘pig’ – a known anti-Semitic slur.

Authorities were at the Center for Jewish Living on Sunday night, and Cornell’s Hillel organization advised students and staff to avoid the building “out of an abundance of caution.”

Spray-painted messages such as ‘Zionism equals Racism’ and ‘Israel is Fascist’ began appearing on the sidewalks of Cornell University’s upstate New York campus on Wednesday

Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, condemned the attacks in a post, writing, “While it is unclear if these are credible threats, @nyspolice is engaged & we’ll take any steps needed to keep students safe.” She also notified various state universities that the state police would be monitoring any threats.

New York’s Attorney General Letitia James also condemned the remarks, stating, “There is no space for antisemitism or violence of any kind. Campuses must remain safe spaces for our students.”

Cornell senior and president of Cornellians for Israel, Zoe Bernstein, who is Jewish, told CNN that she was heartbroken to read the antisemitic posts. She said the threats have spread fear and distress throughout the campus’ Jewish community. “This is totally unprecedented in my life and the lives of, I would say, pretty much all of my peers. … It’s really, deeply troubling and upsetting,” said Bernstein.

In her statement, President Pollack emphasized that “we will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell. The virulence and destructiveness of antisemitism is real and deeply impacting our Jewish students, faculty and staff, as well as the entire Cornell community.”

Authorities continue to investigate the incident as the Cornell community stands together against hate and violence.

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