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Police on alert at Ivy League university after anti-Semitic threats

Anonymous posts on a pro-Hamas forum have called for a massacre of Jews at Cornell

Police at New York’s prestigious Cornell University are investigating online threats made against Jewish students amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas, local authorities have said.

In a statement on Sunday, Martha Pollack, president of the Ivy League university in Ithaca, about 280km (174 miles) west of New York City, condemned what she called “a series of horrendous, anti-Semitic messages threatening violence to our Jewish community.” 

Pollack said the threats, which were posted on a website not affiliated with the university, specifically named the address of the school’s Center for Jewish Living.

“Cornell Police (CUPD) are on the scene and investigating. Police will continue to remain on site to ensure our students and community members are safe,” she stated, adding that the FBI had been notified of a potential hate crime.

Pollack went on to condemn threats of violence as “absolutely intolerable,” stressing that the incident “highlights the need to combat the forces that are dividing us and driving us toward hate.” 

‘F–k Israel’ graffiti scrawled across Cornell University campus sidewalks https://t.co/RKB4KZJOys pic.twitter.com/6H1vZFdblt

— New York Post (@nypost) October 25, 2023

Cornell Hillel, the Jewish student organization, advised people to avoid the Center for Jewish Living, which also houses the university’s kosher facility, “out of abundance of caution.” 

The incident stemmed from a series of anonymous posts on a Cornell discussion forum, some of which were shared by social media users. One message urged people to murder campus Jews, describing them as “rats.”

READ MORE: Surge in US anti-Semitism recorded – lobby group

Other posts heaped praise on Palestinian militant group Hamas – which is designated as a terrorist organization in the US – while calling for “liberation by any means necessary.” 

Tensions between the pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli public have flared since the October 7 surprise Hamas attack on Israel which left thousands dead and wounded. In response, Israel launched air and missile attacks on Gaza, later announcing “expanded” ground operations in the Palestinian enclave.

It is not the first time Cornell University has been the site of tensions during the current conflict. University sidewalks were spray-painted last week with messages such as “Zionism equals Racism” and “Israel is Fascist.” The graffiti started appearing following a scandal involving Professor Russell Rickford, who took a leave of absence after calling the Hamas attack “exhilarating” and “energizing” at a pro-Palestine protest.


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