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Antisemitic threats at Cornell draw outrage from politicians and advocates

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Antisemitic messages posted on a discussion board at Cornell University have students and faculty on guard and have garnered condemnation from New York government officials.

Screenshots of the alleged online messages circulated on the social media platform, X, which read, “Jewish people need to be killed,” “Israel deserved 10/7,” and “eliminate Jewish living from Cornell campus.” 

Cornell University (July 2013)

Cornell Police are investigating the ordeal and said the messages appeared on a discussion board unaffiliated with the institution on Sunday. Authorities have asked the FBI to join the investigation.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul made an appearance at Cornell on Monday to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community.

She took to X, stating, “We have no tolerance for hate or violence, and I have directed @nyspolice to increase security on college campuses and across New York.” 

Attorney General Letitia James also took to the social media platform to condemn the threats against Cornell’s Jewish community. 

She wrote, “These threats targeting Jewish students at Cornell are absolutely horrific.”

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

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 09: New York State Attorney General Letitia James makes an announcement about a new program that would provide financial resources to abortion providers in New York on May 09, 2022 in New York City. The Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program would help low-income residents and also financially assist people seeking an abortion who come to New York from states where the procedure is banned. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Phyllis Bennis, an American Jewish writer and political commentator, told theGrio that there has been an uptick in antisemitism and islamophobia due to the Israel-Hamas war. 

She said some antisemitic threats exist because it “stems from Israel’s claim that it is the country of all Jews.”

“So, then Jews are held accountable for the actions of the Israeli state for which they have no connection,” Bennis explained.

Paul O’Brien, executive director at Amnesty International USA, told theGrio that the organization condemns the “surge in antisemitic, Islamophobic, anti-Palestinian [and] Arab rhetoric and attacks, as well as incidents targeting other communities.

He added that the global human rights organization “demands action to counter this surge by local and federal government officials.”

“The right to be free from discrimination is a fundamental principle of human rights law, and all governments are obliged to combat discrimination in all its forms,” said O’Brien.

Hollywood responds to Israel-Hamas war with open letters to President Biden

Martha E. Pollack, Cornell University president, issued a statement following the ordeal and said that the University “will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell.”

“Threats of violence are absolutely intolerable,” Pollack wrote. “We will work to ensure that the person or people who posted them are punished to the full extent of the law.”

She added, “This incident highlights the need to combat the forces that are dividing us and driving us toward hate.” 

Khaled Elgindy, director of Israeli-Palestinian affairs at the Middle East Institute, told theGrio, although the investigation is ongoing and little has been made available to the public, “antisemitic threats or attacks are always terrible and should be investigated and prosecuted.” 

He also said, aside from an increase in antisemitic threats, “We have seen an uptick in anti-Arab and Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian attacks.” 

In September, Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy, was fatally stabbed by his landlord in Plainfield, Illinois, reportedly due to his Muslim faith.

In an earlier interview, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., told theGrio, “It is proof that dehumanizing the Palestinian people has horrible consequences; that when we plainly push forward one-sided, Islamophobic and bigoted rhetoric, it can serve as a death sentence.”

WASHINGTON DC, UNITED STATES – OCTOBER 18: US Congresswoman Cori Bush takes part in a demonstration organized with the attendance of multiple Jewish groups outside the Capitol Building in Washington DC, United States on October 18, 2023 to advocate for a halt in hostilities in Gaza. (Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Eligindy told theGrio that “mainstream media” has played a role in the recent uptick in violence against Jews and Palestinians in the U.S. amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“Elected officials make commentary that is totally dehumanizing of Palestinians and without real consequence or pushback, and that’s been troubling,” he said.

“We need to be mindful…so that we’re not only focusing on the rights and safety of one community at the expense of other communities,” he said.

Cornell is the latest institution to face antisemitic threats in recent months. The Department of Education is investigating whether Jewish students’ rights were violated at institutions like George Washington University, the University of California, and the University of California, Berkeley.

The Biden-Harris administration announced on Monday that it would take action to crack down on antisemitic attacks that have been reoccurring on college campuses. 

The Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Education are working with local law enforcement and higher education institutions to provide them with resources and intelligence to combat the rise in hate crimes against the Jewish community.

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today!


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