Isabelle Jung/Sun Graphics Editor

April 18, 2024

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Jewish Students and Faculty Speak Out Against Coulter

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Dear President Pollack,

We are a group of Jewish faculty, students and staff writing to express our dismay at yesterday’s lecture by Ann Coulter. As you are certainly aware, Coulter has a long track record of making xenophobic, racist, homophobic and antisemitic remarks, even suggesting that Jews should convert to Christianity if they are to stay in the United States.

The title of her talk, “Immigration: The Conspiracy to End America” is a direct reference to antisemitic “replacement theory,” which holds that Jews are conspiring to increase immigration to demographically overwhelm the white race. There is no question that her many white supremacist admirers will understand this dog whistle as intended.

We know that you do not sign off on every speaker who comes to campus, nor should you. Nonetheless, the Provost’s letter in The Sun has put the imprimatur of University leadership on this overtly antisemitic and racist event. 

We find it particularly galling that the University would co-sign for this event after all that has transpired since Oct. 7, given how much Cornell has done to restrict free expression among members of its own community — often in the name of Jewish “safety.” At Cornell and elsewhere around the United States, we have seen the claim that critiquing Zionism or advocating for Palestinian freedom is, in and of itself, anti-Semitic. Indeed, the letter you received from House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith pointed to people chanting pro-Palestine slogans as evidence of deeply rooted antisemitism at Cornell. Your silence on the matter suggests that the University may agree that anti-Zionism is equivalent to hate speech. We do not. However, given that Coulter unarguably espouses actual antisemitic conspiracy theories, we find the University’s choice rather odd at best, especially since it is touted in the name of promoting protected speech.

We reject the notion that demanding security, dignity and freedom for Palestinians poses a threat to Jews, nor do we feel our “safety” and “comfort” should be marshaled to punish folks on campus. Nonetheless, giving a prominent platform to someone like Coulter serves to normalize bigotry, and runs directly counter to your stated aim of “fostering a community of belonging.” The University’s active support of the Coulter talk suggests a hypocritical invitation of right wing hate speech while left wing political speech is being actively criminalized.

In a moment of an ascendant white supremacy that espouses hatred of Jews along with people of color, Muslims, immigrants, queer people and other marginalized populations, we need morally consistent leadership more than ever. It is therefore particularly distressing that, in bowing to pressure from right wing extremists, Cornell’s leadership has relinquished any legitimacy it may have had to adjudicate what in reality counts as antisemitism. 


— Prof. Shimon Edelman, Psychology

Lea Esipov ‘27

Prof. Eli Friedman, Global Labor and Work

Sivan Gordon-Buxbaum, MPS, Integrative Plant Science

Prof. Dan Hirschman, Sociology

Vera Kelly ‘25

Sydney Rosen ‘24

Eliza Salamon ‘24

Everly Walker ‘27

Cornell Jewish Alliance for Justice

Cornell Jewish Voice for Peace

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