Threats to kill Jewish students at Cornell prompt police to monitor kosher dining hall
Overlook of Cornell University Campus from Uris Library Photo: Shutterstock

By Jackie Hajdenberg
October 29, 2023

(JTA) — Police at Cornell University were called to the school’s kosher dining hall, and the campus Hillel warned students to stay away from it, after anonymous antisemitic posts on a Greek life website that included threats to “shoot up” the building and kill and rape Jewish students.

The posts, whose text has circulated widely on social media, were published Saturday and Sunday under pseudonyms including “hamas,” “jew evil,” “jew jenocide,” “hamas warrior” and “kill jews.” The posts have titles such as “jewish people need to be killed,” “eliminate jewish living from cornell campus” and “gonna shoot up 104 west,” the name of the kosher dining hall.

The posts were made on Greekrank, a site that students at the Ivy League school and others use to rate fraternities and sororities. “If i see a pig male jew i will stab you and slit your throat,” read another post by a user called “hamas” that was viewed directly by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “If i see another pig female jew i will drag you away and ràpe you and throw you off a cliff. if i see another pig baby jew i will behead you in front of your parents.”

The university’s president denounced the posts, which come three weeks after Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel killed and wounded thousands and during Israel’s ensuing war against the terror group in Gaza. Pro-Palestinian groups at a series of campuses have celebrated or endorsed Hamas’ attack, and Jewish students have been barricaded in buildings amid pro-Palestinian protests. Other Jewish students have been assaulted or taken part in violent altercations. On Thursday, the White House condemned “antisemitic messages being conveyed on college campuses.”

At Cornell, a professor called the Hamas attack “exhilarating” before later apologizing. (He is now on leave.) Last week, the campus was graffitied with the messages “Israel is fascist,” “Zionism = genocide” and “F— Israel,” according to the Cornell Daily Sun

On Sunday evening, Cornell Hillel posted a statement to Instagram advising people to keep away from the kosher dining hall, where police were on site to monitor the situation.

“Cornell Hillel is aware of a threatening statement that was directed toward the building at 104West, which houses the university’s kosher and multicultural dining hall, as well as more generally toward Jewish students, faculty, and staff,” the statement read. “At this time, we advise that students and staff avoid the building out of an abundance of caution.”

The dining hall also includes halal, Seventh-day Adventist, vegetarian, vegan and other meal options. It is situated next to Cornell’s Center for Jewish Living. Cornell Hillel and the Center for Jewish Living could not be reached for comment. 

In a statement emailed to the campus community, Cornell University President Martha Pollack called the threats “horrendous” and “absolutely intolerable.” 

“We will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell,” she wrote. “The virulence and destructiveness of antisemitism is real and deeply impacting our Jewish students faculty and staff, as well as the entire Cornell community. This incident highlights the need to combat the forces that are dividing us and driving us toward hate.”

Pollack said campus police had also notified the FBI of a potential hate crime and that whoever posted the threats would be “punished to the full extent of the law.” Cornell Police referred JTA to Pollack’s statement. 

Pollack has issued several previous statements about the violence in Israel, including a message of concern and a second condemning Hamas on Oct 10 and two statements distancing Cornell from community members who might have expressed support for the terrorist attack.

Talia Dror, a junior who is a pro-Israel activist, told JTA that the dining hall threats “terrified” her and that she was not leaving her house as a result. 

“We’ve been told multiple times by the university that while they understood our concerns for personal safety, that they didn’t think actual physical safety would necessarily be an issue,” Dror said. “On a daily basis, I’m seeing what’s going on around the country and I think it’s absolutely absurd that university administrators are acting like such cowards and not making real statements or standing behind their Jewish students until there’s a physical threat to kill students.”

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