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Cornell Threats of Antisemitic Violence Lead Police to Suspect

Cornell Threats of Antisemitic Violence Lead Police to Suspect
A banner for Cornell University is displayed in a classroom at the United States-India Education Foundation (USIEF) in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. For decades, the U.S. has lured thousands of foreign students who’ve been quickly hired by the likes of Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Now the Trump administration is trying to slash immigrant visas, while Republican and Democrat lawmakers are introducing bills to curb the number of work visas. Recent violent attacks against Indians—several fatal—have raised the specter of physical danger among Indians who have fantasies of a life in the U.S. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

New York State Police are questioning a suspect about online threats of mass shooting and antisemitic violence at Cornell University. 

Joel Malina, the school’s vice president for university relations, said that a “suspect” has been identified in relation to antisemitic threats made against Jewish students and is currently in custody. He didn’t provide any details on the person’s identity.

“Public safety is my top priority and I’m committed to combating hate and bias wherever it rears its ugly head,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement Tuesday, a day after she visited the campus in Ithaca, New York. Among other steps, Hochul said that state police will provide additional security on campus.

Antisemitic incidents have soared since the Israel-Hamas war began Oct. 7, and the conflict has bitterly divided dozens of campuses, including Harvard, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania. At Cornell, a series of incidents culminated in weekend posts on a website unaffiliated with the school that targeted Jewish students and a kosher dining hall.

The Palestinian militant group attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,400 people and abducting 240 others. In response, Israel has pummeled the Gaza Strip, claiming more than 8,500 Palestinian lives, according to Hamas-led health authorities.

Read more: Israel’s Step-by-Step Gaza Offensive Risks Longer Deadly War

“Threats of violence are absolutely intolerable, and we will work to ensure that the person or people who posted them are punished to the full extent of the law,” Cornell President Martha Pollack said in a statement Sunday. “Our immediate focus is on keeping the community safe; we will continue to prioritize that. We will not tolerate antisemitism.”

On Sunday, hundreds of Jewish parents visiting the campus gathered for a meeting with the university’s provost, Michael Kotlikoff. Parents and students complained about Cornell’s response to antisemitic incidents, including a graffiti attack last week, according to participants.

“The statements that came out of the president’s office were weak,” said Misha Galperin, the former chief executive of Jewish Agency for Israel who organized the meeting.

Students at the meetings said they were terrified, according to Galperin.

“They felt there was physical danger,” Galperin said. “Then parents spoke, and the anger was extraordinary.”

Dan Shlufman, who helped set up the meeting, said parents are growing increasingly organized.

“We’re trying to create a space on college campuses so that it returns to a place where education is paramount, exchanges of ideas are done in a civil manner and where harassment and intimidation are not permitted and given credence as free speech,” said Shlufman, president of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

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