Jewish Students at Cornell Fearful After 'Horrific' Threats

Online messages threatened rape of Jews, shooting at building with college's kosher dining hall
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2023 7:31 AM CDT
Antisemitic Threats Spark Fear on Cornell Campus
A woman walks by a Cornell University sign on the Ivy League school's campus in Ithaca, New York, on Jan. 14, 2022.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

Threatening messages on an online forum used by Cornell University students sparked fear among the Jewish community there over the weekend, and an investigation is ongoing. Per student newspaper the Cornell Sun, the messages popped up Saturday and Sunday on forums on Greekrank, a site dedicated to frats and sororities at colleges and universities nationwide. One of the messages threatened a shooting at 104West!, which houses Cornell's kosher dining hall and Center for Jewish Living, while others threatened additional antisemitic violence.

One message bore the title "jewish [sic] people need to be killed," while others threatened rape and the beheading of Jewish infants. The messages appear to have been "instigated by the ongoing Israel-Hamas war," per the AP. Most of the messages have since been taken down, but they've left students in fear. "We've had people who are too scared to sleep here tonight, so they've gone to other places in Ithaca for their safety," Molly Goldstein, president of the Center for Jewish Living, tells the Sun, adding that some parents have come up to Cornell "to try to get their kids and they don't know what to do."

The Cornell University Police Department is investigating the messages and says it has also looped in the FBI on what may be a hate crime. Cornell President Martha Pollack called the antisemitic messages "horrendous" and "absolutely intolerable." "We will work to ensure that the person or people who posted them are punished to the full extent of the law," she said, per the AP. "Our immediate focus is on keeping the community safe." She added, per the Sun: "We will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell." Cornell Hillel noted that university police were camped out at 104West! for security, and the group is advising students for now to steer clear of the kosher dining hall, which will be closed Monday.

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New York state Attorney General Letitia James called the messages "absolutely horrific," while New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a statement Sunday echoing that, noting that New York State Police had been "engaged." "We will have zero tolerance for acts of violence or those who intimidate and harass others through words or actions," she wrote. The New York Times notes that the threats come just days after anti-Israel graffiti was found on campus, and after a history instructor there made a rally speech earlier this month in which he said he was "exhilarated" by Hamas' Oct. 7 on Israel. That instructor is now on leave. (More Cornell University stories.)

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