Patrick Dai '24 appeared before a federal judge on Wednesday, waiving his right to an immediate detention hearing. He is being held in Broome County.

October 29, 2023

Posts Online Threaten Jewish Students and Center for Jewish Living

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Update, Oct. 31, 3:01 p.m.: A suspect is now in custody and is being questioned by New York State police. Read more here.

Editor’s note: This article contains mentions of religious and ethnic-based violence.

Threats were posted to Cornell’s Greekrank forums on Saturday, Oct. 28 and Sunday, Oct. 29, including one that threatened a shooting at 104West!, which is home to Cornell’s Center for Jewish Living and the kosher dining hall.

“if i see another synagogue another rally for the zionist globalist genocidal apartheid dictatorial entity known as “israel”, i will bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you pig jews [sic],” said one post titled “if i see another jew” by a poster calling themselves “hamas.” “jews are human animals and deserve a pigs death. Liberation by any means. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free [sic]!”

The post also threatened to rape female Jewish students and behead Jewish babies in front of their parents.

Greekrank is a discussion site about the fraternities and sororities across colleges and universities, with user guidelines banning content that “contains hate speech or promotes or condones violence.” 

Another post by screen name “jew evil” titled “jewish people need to be killed” [sic] called for students to follow Jewish students home from campus and slit their throats. 

“rats [sic] need to be eliminated from Cornell,” said the post, which has since been taken down.

The Sun was only able to view two threatening comments on the Greekrank website as of 7:26 p.m. on Oct. 29, as the others had been removed. 

The posts come four days after graffiti stating “Israel is fascist,” “Zionism = genocide” and “F*** Israel” was sprayed across Central Campus on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

There have also been several derogatory posts towards Muslim students on campus posted on the Greekrank platform on Sunday. One post, published under the name “glory to hamas,” threatened to “bring many ak 47 [sic] and slave women in hijab to make party [sic] more fun!”

Another comment responding to the “if i see another jew” post stated “puck falestine.” 

Cornell Hillel released a statement on Sunday evening acknowledging the threat against 104West! and Jewish Cornellians in general.

“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 continued: “The Cornell University administration has been made aware of this concerning language, and the Cornell University Police Department is monitoring the situation and is on site at 104West! to provide additional security as a precaution. At this time, we advise that students and staff avoid the building out of an abundance of caution.”

President Martha Pollack sent out an email to the Cornell community at 7:07 p.m., in which she condemned the threats and announced that the CUPD was on-site at 104West! to investigate, and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been informed of a potential hate crime. CUPD will remain at 104West! to ensure the safety of community members present.

“We will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell. During my time as president, I have repeatedly denounced bigotry and hatred, both on and off our campus. The virulence and destructiveness of antisemitism is real and deeply impacting our Jewish students, faculty and staff, as well as the entire Cornell community,” Pollack said. “This incident highlights the need to combat the forces that are dividing us and driving us toward hate. This cannot be what defines us at Cornell.”

CUPD released a community threat alert for the entire city of Ithaca at 7:13 p.m. in which it announced it was investigating the posts.

“Evidence suggests the targeted locations were intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias,” the threat alert said.

Molly Goldstein ’24, president of the Center for Jewish Living, said the building’s residents collectively had a feeling of “genuine fear” in an interview with The Sun.

“The first reaction from all the students on the ground is genuine fear. We’ve been getting calls from people who weren’t on the complex asking if it’s safe for them to come back to their room tonight,” Goldstein said. “We’ve had people who are too scared to sleep here tonight. So they’ve gone to other places in Ithaca for their safety. We now have three police cars outside of our complex that will be here 24/7 until we understand what’s happening, the real threat.”

According to Jeremy Zarge ’25, CJL co-president, the police presence has reassured some residents of their security in the complex. 

“It’s putting a lot of people at ease,” Zarge said in an interview with The Sun. “We’ve actually been able to talk with some of the officers, and they’re totally committed to making sure that everything that we could ask for in terms of security is put in place. They’ve given us a total guarantee that [an officer] is always going to be present there, indefinitely, until they know that we’re 100 percent safe, so I think it’s given a lot of people a lot of peace of mind.”

The complex is not currently under any sort of lockdown, so residents will be free to come and go to their classes or other obligations as they please, although Zarge said some residents prefer to remain in the building with the police nearby. Security will be heightened for non-residents, Zarge said.

“We’re going to be a lot more concerned than normal about who’s coming in if they’re not a resident and making sure that we can monitor everyone,” Zarge said.

Goldstein said parents of residents contacted the CJL in fear, with some even traveling to Ithaca to pick up their children.

“[Parents are] absolutely terrified for their children,” Goldstein said. “Some of them have even come up [to Ithaca] to try to get their kids and they don’t know what to do.”

The administration reached out to CJL to offer their support for the group, Goldstein said.

“[Pollack and Ryan Lombardi, vice president of student and campus life,] said that they condemn antisemitism, that their number one priority is the safety of Jews on campus and of all the students on campus,” Goldstein said. “And that it’s scary for them and sickens them that this hatred exists — everything that was said in [Pollack’s email to the Cornell community].”

However, Goldstein also said the University is not providing support or housing for students who do not feel safe sleeping in the CJL following the threats.

“The University is not involved in finding any other housing,” Goldstein said. “There are community members that Jewish community members who are not affiliated with the University necessarily who live in the area and have offered their homes to people. Some people have friends in the area or family members that they’ll be staying with.”

However, Zarge said the University was ensuring professors and other instructors made accommodations for students who required them following the threats.

“We got specific assurance from [Pollack and Lombardi] that they’ll be working on making sure that any accommodations will be put through as much as they can and that [professors understand] not everyone’s going to be at 100 percent,” Zarge said. “And that they’re going to accommodate us for those circumstances.”

Zarge also said CJL was helping coordinate housing for its residents who were uncomfortable sleeping in the complex.

“We’ve had a lot of people who don’t necessarily feel totally safe being on campus or at the complex right now,” Zarge said. “We’ve had people from the community reach out and offer people to stay at other houses tonight if they don’t feel safe. So [we’ve been] helping coordinate that. I think […] communication is the biggest aspect.”

Zarge also said CJL leadership ensured all its residents were accounted for and that they have a list of students who are spending the night elsewhere.

“We got an exact count of how many students will like sleeping here [in the CJL building] as opposed to somewhere else tonight, just so we can have an exact count and make sure everyone’s accounted for,” Zarge said.

Goldstein announced that given the threats, the 104West! dining hall will be closed for dine-in services on Monday, Oct. 30. Students who rely on Cornell Dining’s kosher meals can receive pre-packaged meals at 104West!, visit the kosher station in Morrison Dining or buy Fresh Takes meals from Cornell’s cafés.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, at 8:08 p.m. on Oct. 29, in which she called the threats “absolutely horrific” and stated there was no place for such speech.

“These threats targeting Jewish students at Cornell are absolutely horrific,” James said. “There is no space for antisemitism or violence of any kind. Campuses must remain safe spaces for our students.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul also issued a statement on X at 10:23 p.m., announcing that the New York State Police were also “engaged” and that the state would ensure the safety of affected students.

“The disgusting and hateful posts on a message board about Jewish Cornell students is the latest in a series of concerning incidents on college campuses,” Hochul said. “While it is unclear if these are credible threats, the New York State Police is engaged, and we’ll take any steps needed to keep students safe.”

Hochul followed up with two more posts reaffirming her dedication to the safety of campus communities across New York State and her belief in free speech, but emphasized that there would be no tolerance threats or acts of violence in New York State.

“Earlier this evening, I spoke to leaders representing the State University of New York system, the City University of New York system and private colleges and universities across New York State. I told them New York State Police and the whole of state government will continue to support their efforts to keep their students and campus communities safe,” Hochul said. “I also reiterated our strong belief in free speech and the right to peaceful assembly, but made clear that we will have zero tolerance for acts of violence or those who intimidate and harass others through words or actions.”

Cornell Hillel sent out an email to Jewish community members at 11:02 p.m. The email, which was obtained by The Sun, addressed the antisemitic and anti-Israel online messages.

“Earlier today, Hillel was made aware of threatening statements that were made online and directed toward the building at 104West, which houses the University’s kosher and multicultural dining hall and Center for Jewish Living, as well as more generally toward Jewish students, faculty and staff on our campus,” wrote Rabbi Ari Weiss, the chief executive officer of Cornell Hillel. “Antisemitism in all forms must not be tolerated and we were horrified to read these words.”

Weiss also addressed enacted safety protocols.

“The Cornell University administration was immediately made aware of this concerning language, and CUPD has been monitoring the situation and remains onsite at 104West to provide additional security as a precaution. We’ve been in touch with CUPD throughout the evening, and there is increased security at all Jewish spaces at Cornell,” Weiss wrote. “The New York State Police Counterterrorism Unit and FBI are also actively monitoring the situation. At this time, we advise that students and staff avoid the building out of an abundance of caution.”

Weiss underscored that the safety of Jewish community members and Jewish students is Cornell Hillel’s utmost priority.

“All Jewish students deserve a learning environment that is safe and free from antisemitism and hate,” Weiss said. “At Cornell Hillel, our doors are open for anyone who needs a safe space to process, find comfort and community with other Jewish students and staff… or just take a deep breath. Our rabbis and staff are here for you, please reach out to us.”

Though Zarge admitted it was a stressful time for him, he expressed gratitude for the University’s response to the threats and reaffirmed his and CJL’s commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all CJL residents.

“It’s a really stressful time for me personally. You hear about antisemitism on campus all the time. You hear these strange stories that happen, and you really never think it’s going to be you. And I guess the past few weeks, and especially tonight, has really shown me that sometimes it is you and sometimes these threats are real and we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Zarge said. “Obviously, we hope that this just blows over, and it’s just a random post. But we have to treat the situation with utmost concern, and I’d like to emphasize we’ll do everything we can to make sure that our students are as safe as can be.”

Members of the Cornell community may report threats to personal or community safety to CUPD by calling 607-255-1111 or 911 for emergency assistance. Instances of non-emergency bias can be reported through the bias incident form.

Update, 10/30, 12:58 a.m.: This article has been updated to include comments from Jeremy Zarge ’25, co-president of the CJL, an email sent to Jewish community members from Rabbi Ari Weiss, chief executive officer of Cornell Hillel, to add a statement made by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) and to add resources regarding encountering threats to safety and bias.

Update, 10/29, 11:15 p.m.: This article has been updated to include comments from Molly Goldstein ’24, co-president of the Center for Jewish Living.

Update, 10/29, 9:15 p.m.: This article has been updated to include a comment from New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), to state that some of the threats were posted to Greekrank on Saturday, Oct. 28, to include mention of posts on Greekrank made since publication and to add a content warning.

Update, 10/29, 8:17 p.m.: The Sun has obtained several screenshots of the threatening posts.