Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

Muslim students denounced the online threats made towards Jewish Cornellians — including threats of a mass shooting at the Center for Jewish Living and kosher dining hall — and asked the University to take threats against Muslim students equally seriously.

November 2, 2023

Muslim Cornellians Condemn Antisemitic Threats, Demand Response for Islamophobic Posts

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

Following antisemitic threats published online earlier this week, pro-Palestine student groups and Muslim students condemned the threats and called for the Administration to protect members of the student body. 

“Antisemitism and antisemitic individuals are not part of our liberation movement. We unequivocally denounce the racist confounding of Jewish identity with the actions of the state of Israel,” said a Monday, Oct. 30 statement made by several organizations that represent Muslim students including Cornell’s Coalition for Mutual Liberation, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Arab Graduate Student Association and Black Students United. “We want to reiterate that the comments made are not sanctioned by Cornell’s Coalition for Mutual Liberation and do not represent our membership.”

Campus emotions reached a new peak when violent threats were posted to Cornell’s section of the Greekrank forums on Saturday, Oct. 28 and Sunday, Oct. 29, including one that threatened a shooting at 104 West, which is home to Cornell’s Center for Jewish Living and the kosher dining hall. Other posts threatened to rape and kill Jewish women walking throughout campus.

The platform also contained a post with Islamophobic comments and graphic violent language towards Muslim students. The 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!”

In response to these threats, several Muslim student group organizations issued a statement in which they condemned the antisemitic comments on Monday, before the perpetrator was identified by federal authorities the following day.

“We stand firmly against any form of discrimination that sets out to endanger, defame or dehumanize anyone,” the statement read. “We call upon Cornell to protect the Jewish community and conduct a thorough and complete investigation and we hope that the responsible party answers for these dangerous posts.” 

The statement also asked the Administration to protect all members of the student body from various forms of intimidation, such as doxxing, or the publication of personal information about an individual on the internet with malicious intent, which has been occurring to some pro-Palestine students who spoke out against Israel. 

“As tensions on campus continue to rise, we call on the Administration to safeguard all students equally,” the statement read. “Protection from doxxing and other forms of intimidation must be dealt with the same vigor that free speech is defended.” 

Students for Justice in Palestine also co-signed the statement and posted additional remarks regarding the incident via Instagram on Monday. The statement also expressed that the content of the threats was not aligned with the mission of these organizations nor their recent mobilizations in support of Palestine. 

“It’s essential to emphasize that antisemitism will never be a part of the Free Palestine Movement and that the messages posted utilized violent and Islamophobic terms that run contrary to the principles of Islam to create a hateful and threatening environment on campus,” the statement read. 

In response to the threats, both the Administration and the state government issued statements supporting Jewish students on campus. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) voiced support for the community at a press conference at 104 West on Monday.

The individual who posted the comments online was identified as Patrick Dai ’24, who is now in custody awaiting a preliminary hearing. He was not known to be affiliated with any organizations on campus involved in pro-Palestine causes. 

Sharif Ewais-Orozco, the Undergraduate Coordinator at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, expressed his condemnation of the online threats and his relief to see action taken against the responsible individual as a Palestinian.

“When I heard about the threats made to my Jewish brothers and sisters I was disgusted. No member of our community should ever be subjected to such fear-inducing content while navigating our campus,” Ewais-Orozco said in a written statement to The Sun. “I was glad to see the swift response from the Administration as well as the New York Governor.” 

Ewais-Orozco also emphasized the lack of a University response to similar posts on the platform instigating violence against Muslim students, and cited that the Administration should ensure a safe environment for all members of the student body equally. 

“I was deeply disappointed that neither the Administration nor the Governor addressed the equally distressing posts that called for harm to our Muslim students,” Ewais-Orozco said. “We must combat Islamophobia with the same unwavering determination as antisemitism to ensure that every member of our community, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality, is treated with dignity and respect.”

Sadeen Musa ’25, the outreach chair for SJP, said the statement put out by the Cornell Coalition for Mutual Liberation was meant to reassure Jewish students that SJP and other pro-Palestinian advocacy groups did not rely on antisemitism as a part of their movement, and that the groups worded the statement to entice the University to “acknowledge all students equally.”

“We want Cornell to protect all of the students and continue to create a safe environment,” Musa said. “And we just wanted to continue to strengthen the idea that antisemitism has no place on campus and within [the Free Palestine] movement.”

Musa, like Ewais-Orozco, said she believed there were anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic statements made on Greekrank that the Administration ignored, and said those statements made Muslim students feel unsafe on campus.

“I know that one post said glory to Hamas, and then another threatened women who wear hijabs. Those are Islamophobic statements that didn’t really gather much attention, but did create an uncomfortable and unsafe environment for Muslims on campus,” Musa said. “SJP and I want to continue to prompt Cornell to create an inclusive environment for all individuals. And I would like to see Islamophobia and racism recognized to the same extent.”

Musa expressed her intention to bring awareness to Islamophobia on campus, saying President Martha Pollack should acknowledge it in campus-wide emails to the same degree that she has done with antisemitism. “We will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell; indeed we will not tolerate hatred of any form, including racism or Islamophobia,” Pollack wrote in her latest statement condemning the antisemitic threats.

“I think Cornell needs to bring greater awareness to the rise of Islamophobia and racism that has been present on campus,” Musa said. “I think Cornell should — whether it’s [Pollack] sending out emails that acknowledge Islamophobia or just people being more aware — I think that due to the rise of Islamophobia and racism on campus, there should just be more attention on it overall.”

Ewais-Orozco emphasized that the recent pro-Palestine demonstrations on campus are based on the principles of non-violence and not on the intimidation of other students or groups.

“It is with these principles in mind that many members of the Cornell community … protest for the rights of oppressed Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank,” Ewais-Orozco said.

Jonathan Mong ’25 contributed reporting.