An escalating wave of online prejudice targeted at Cornell University’s Jewish community has propelled the school’s leadership into action, following a collection of vile and threatening antisemitic messages, explicitly menacing the occupants of 104 West, Cornell’s Center for Jewish Living.
University President Martha E. Pollack confirmed that these heinous messages, shared across a website having no affiliation with the university, were immediately reported to law enforcement. Both the local police department and the FBI have been apprised, treating the episode as a suspected hate crime.
In an effort to ensure safety, authorities have stationed themselves at 104 West, a building known to accommodate the university’s kosher and multicultural dining hall. With vigilance and an overabundance of caution, the university’s Hillel organization has also advised students and staff to avoid the vicinity of the threatened building.
These alarming threats surface amidst apparently increased tensions on campuses nationwide coinciding with the ongoing hostilities in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas. Again and again, within the hallowed halls of academic institutions, including revered establishments like Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, students passionately spearhead protests. Meanwhile, school administrators juggle the daunting task of addressing diverse perspectives and enduring the criticism of influential donors demanding definitive stances on the conflict.
President Pollack, in her statement, categorically condemned such violent threats, assuring the university’s commitment towards upholding community safety. She firmly declared their stand against antisemitism, particularly in light of recent acts of anti-Israel vandalism on Cornell’s campus. She asserted that Cornell University will not be defined by hate, but will instead actively combat forces seeking to divide and fuel antagonism.
Zoe Bernstein, a senior at Cornell who identifies as Jewish, expressed her heartbreak at the hate-fueled posts. Ms. Bernstein, who leads ‘Cornellians for Israel’, an organization aimed at fostering community and enriching education concerning Israel, related the overwhelming fear and distress experienced by the Jewish community on campus.
She emotionally stated that such incidents have left lasting impressions on her and her peers’ lives, particularly those descended from Holocaust victims, further intensified by the ongoing conflict in Israel. As a result, much of the focus has shifted from academic pursuits to dealing with the inflamed tensions on campus.
Ms. Bernstein passionately hopes that peace will reign on campus soon. Certainly, the Cornell community strives to uphold this sentiment, forging ahead to build a safer, more accepting space conducive to learning, exploration, and growth.