On Sept. 14, 2022, a banner was hung across from the Center for Jewish Life at Cornell University with the message “Burn Prisons. Free Them All. From Attica to Palestine.” This attempt to conflate prison reform in the U.S. to the detainment and imprisonment of terrorists by Israel is the latest ploy by anti-Zionist extremists to prey upon the sensibilities of socially conscious college students.
Someone also drew an image in the dirt not far from the banner that equated the Star of David to the Nazi swastika, further demonstrating that these actions were a deliberate attempt to target the Jewish community.
In light of these incidents, Cornell President Martha Pollack released a statement that fails to adequately identify and address increased hostility towards Jewish students.
“Over the past couple of months, there have been a small handful of incidents on our campus that are completely at odds with this core value: Specifically, incidents that have involved racial targeting and that have involved anti-Semitism,” she said.
President Pollack downplays the history of anti-Semitic events at Cornell. According to the AMCHA Initiative, there have been 59 documented incidents of anti-Semitism since 2015.
For instance, a Sept. 23, 2021 event sponsored by Cornell’s Institute for Comparative Modernities featured Noura Erakat, a Rutgers University professor and anti-Zionist activist. Erakat has alleged that “Zionism, like colonialism, like apartheid, should be considered an abomination”; claimed that “all Israelis are settlers”; and said that “Israeli rule, wherever it exists, is equal to apartheid.”
On Nov. 18, 2021, another event held by the Institute and moderated by Cornell professor Natalie Melas featured speakers Virginia Tilley and Loubna Qutami, who demonized Israel throughout their talk. Tilley stated, “You can’t endorse Jewish statehood, just as you can’t endorse Aryan statehood.”
The Cornell chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Department of Near Eastern Studies hosted an event on March 25, 2022 at which inflammatory speaker Mohammed El-Kurd continued his long history of bigoted statements against Jews. El-Kurd referred to students who tried to cancel the event as “whiny pro-occupation settler-enthusiasts” on social media.
In Sept. 2021, El-Kurd praised the terror attacks of the second intifada, lionizing Palestinian terrorists by calling them “martyrs.” During this period between 2000-2005, these attacks killed more than a thousand Israeli civilians.
El-Kurd frequently speaks about Israelis in grotesque terms, claiming they have an “unquenchable thirst for Palestinian blood” and “harvest organs of the martyred [Palestinians], feed their warriors our own.”
President Pollack should issue a more robust statement clearly identifying and condemning the latest incident for what it is: A brazen act of anti-Semitism meant to intimidate and frighten Cornell’s Jewish community.
Sam Price, a Cornell University Class of 2021 Alumnus, is CAMERA on Campus’ Social Media Manager.