Cornell University police investigating online threats against Jewish students, president says newsbhunt


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Students walk through the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York, US, on April 11, 2023.


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

“Earlier today, a series of horrendous, antisemitic messages threatening violence to our Jewish community and specifically naming 104 West — the home of the Center for Jewish Living — was posted on a website unaffiliated with Cornell,” President Martha E. Pollack said in a statement Sunday.

Law enforcement was notified and the university’s police department also notified the FBI of a potential hate crime, Pollack said.

Authorities were at 104 West — which houses the campus’ kosher and multicultural dining hall — and would remain there “to ensure our students and community members are safe,” the president wrote.

Cornell’s Hillel organization warned students and staff to avoid the 104 West building Sunday evening “out of an abundance of caution.”

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. At many universities, students are engaging in fervent protests as some administrators — including those at elite institutions such as Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania — grapple with how to acknowledge students’ wide-ranging concerns while also fielding backlash from influential donors demanding the colleges take a clearer stance on the conflict.

Pollack said in her statement that violent threats are “absolutely intolerable” and the university is working to prioritize community safety.

The threats come just days after several sidewalks on campus were vandalized with anti-Israel graffiti, according to the university’s newspaper, The Cornell Review.

“We will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell,” the president wrote. “The virulence and destructiveness of antisemitism is real and deeply impacting our Jewish students, faculty and staff, as well as the entire Cornell community. This incident highlights the need to combat the forces that are dividing us and driving us toward hate. This cannot be what defines us at Cornell.”

Cornell senior Zoe Bernstein, who is Jewish, told CNN that she was heartbroken to read the antisemitic posts, which she said 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, who is the president of Cornellians for Israel, a campus organization that aims to provide community and educational events for students who have a connection to Israel.

Bernstein noted the threats are particularly disturbing for students like herself who are descendants of Holocaust and pogrom survivors.

Concerns about the war coupled with the rising unease on campus have begun 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 just really hope that we can soon get to a point where things just die down and we can focus on our academics again because I know students from all walks of life have really been struggling.”

“My ultimate wish is that no violence will happen on this campus,” she added.

Cornell is located in Ithaca, New York — about 60 miles south of Syracuse.


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