Police investigating antisemitic threats at Cornell University

October 30, 2023

Cornell University police were investigating a series of antisemitic threats made online against the school’s Jewish community over the weekend. 

The messages included threats to shoot Jewish students at the building that houses their kosher dining hall. Other messaging encouraged the harming of Jews, according to the school’s student newspaper, The Cornell Daily Sun.

“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,” University President Martha E. Pollack said in a statement Sunday.

The threats were among the latest examples of rising tensions on U.S. college campuses amid the Israel-Hamas war.

“Muslim students are walking around scared, just like the Jewish students are walking around scared,” said Rabbi Esther Reed of Rutgers University.

On Monday, the Biden Administration unveiled new actions to to combat antisemitism on college campuses, with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security partnering with campus law enforcement to track hate-related rhetoric online and provide federal resources to schools.

A White House official told NBC News that dozens of cybersecurity and other security experts at DHS have been detailed to engage with schools amid the rising tensions, and that Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff as well as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona would meet with leading Jewish organizations to discuss the issue of growing antisemitism at colleges on Monday.

Emhoff, who is Jewish, has made tackling issues of antisemitism a key focus during the Biden Administration and the Vice Presidency of his wife, Kamala Harris. This past December Emhoff hosted a roundtable of Jewish Leaders and White House officials to discuss ways to combat hate and the rise on antisemitism in the United States. Earlier this month, days after Hamas’ massive October 7 surprise attack on Israel, President Biden joined Emhoff at a roundtable for Jewish community leaders that had been scheduled to take place before the war began.

Later this week, Sec. Cardona and and White House domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden plan to visit a college campus and hold a roundtable with Jewish students.

The Department of Education has already been conducting site visits to gather more information about antisemitism at a number of schools across the country. 

Antisemitic incidents across the U.S. in various settings have risen 388% since the terrorist attacks in Israel, compared to the same period last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Earlier this month, Biden also condemned incidents of Islamaphobia following the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old boy of Palestinian descent in Illinois and the wounding of his mother by their landlord, who’s been charged with murder and hate crimes.

 The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported 152 complaints of Islmaphobic incidents in 2022—an uptick from 104 in 2021. The organization notes that its numbers don’t account for incidents that have gone unreported.

PHOTO: Cornell University

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