Cornell University sign.
(photo credit: MARC SMITH/CORNELL UNIVERSITY CC BY-SA 2.0 WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Ivy League university Cornell became the latest target of antisemitic hate mail following a disturbing growth in the appearance of such flyers across the US.
In a letter addressed to university students, their parents, community members and alumni, Rabbi Ari Weiss, head of the university’s Hillel branch, attested that students at the university detected the flyers around campus and in Collegetown on Monday morning.
According to Weiss, the posters were removed after the students alerted Hillel’s staff and the university’s police department to the appearance of the disturbing flyers.
In a letter Weiss sent out immediately after the incident, he ensured that “today and always, Cornell Hillel is a safe space. We are doing all within our power to ensure [that] students know that the doors to our office are open for all who need a place to talk or express their feelings.”
Weiss also guaranteed that the organization “will continue to work with our campus and community partners to make sure all Jewish students feel safe and welcome on our campus, and that incidents like this do not happen again.”
Cornell Pro-Israel Students Taunted. (YouTube/Legal Insurrection)
Martha E. Pollack, the university’s president, issued a statement condemning the incident and the anonymous perpetrators.
“The campus awoke this morning to find fliers posted in several locations on and off campus with a clear and hateful message of antisemitism and white supremacy. Whoever is responsible for these fliers is hiding under the cover of anonymity, having posted them overnight,” Pollack wrote. “Whoever they are, they need to ask themselves why they chose our campus, because Cornell reviles their message of hatred.”
“We will not allow this incident to deter us from our ongoing work to address hatred and bigotry on our campus. Instead, we will stand strong and stand together to ensure respect, dignity and safety for all our community members,” she reassured.
According to the university’s paper, The Cornell Daily Sun, the posters that were uncovered on several university buildings and on the statue of university co-founder Ezra Cornell called on students to “join the white gang” and to “just say no to Jewish lies!” While the unfortunate incident does appear to be a contained case of campus antisemitism, its timing stands out, coming on the heels of several other antisemitic incidents that took place in New York, not far from Cornell’s Ithaca campus.
Earlier in the month the New York Police Department launched an investigation into a case of seven Jewish-owned businesses across New York who all received the same threatening, antisemitic flyer in the mail. The flyer in question contained phrases such as “Out with the Jews” and slogans against people of color, as well as a large swastika emblazoned across it. The flyers were all sent anonymously via US mail, with no return address.