U.S. governors push universities to combat anti-Semitism amid Israel-Gaza conflict
'You cannot ignore these threats and hope they go away,' said Gov. Hochul. 'Talking about them, talking about prosecuting, talking about trying to foster some understanding. There should be a greater sense of empathy for these students.'
U.S. state governors are urging universities to enhance their efforts to combat rising antisemitism, which has been exacerbated by the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
On Monday, Governor Kathy Hochul committed to safeguarding Jewish students after online threats at Cornell University. This incident is one of several that have led some officials to consider withdrawing financial support from institutions that fail to improve measures against hatred, Politicoreports.
“You cannot ignore these threats and hope they go away,” Hochul said. “Talking about them, talking about prosecuting, talking about trying to foster some understanding. There should be a greater sense of empathy for these students.”
The visit by the Democratic leader to the Ithaca institution follows a report by the Anti-Defamation League indicating an alarming rise, almost fourfold, in antisemitic episodes since the onset of the Middle Eastern conflict on October 7. Similarly, the Council on American Islamic Relations has noted an uptick in prejudiced occurrences targeting Muslims.
This tension has been especially noticeable in university settings, where both students and faculty have expressed concerns about their safety and have had confrontations with both university officials and demonstrators.
Hochul convened with Cornell students to talk about a sequence of aggressive, anti-Jewish posts that surfaced on an internet forum. This included a menacing message to attack the university's kosher and multicultural dining area, which is situated adjacent to the Center for Jewish Living.
State officials, along with the FBI, were probing the threats, with one of the threats stating, "If you see a Jewish ‘person’ on campus follow them home and slit their throats."
Martha Pollack, President of Cornell, has stated that measures have been taken to enhance campus security.
“We will not tolerate antisemitism on this campus,” Pollack asserted. “We will not tolerate hate crimes or threats of violence of any kind.”
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