Cornell nixes Friday classes to regroup after threats against Jews on campus

University to observe ‘community day in recognition of stress’ in recent weeks, after student posted about killing Jewish students, setting off alarms

A woman walks by a Cornell University sign on the Ivy League school's campus in Ithaca, New York, on January 14, 2022. (Ted Shaffrey/AP)
A woman walks by a Cornell University sign on the Ivy League school's campus in Ithaca, New York, on January 14, 2022. (Ted Shaffrey/AP)

Cornell University canceled Friday’s classes after a student was charged with making antisemitic threats, including one to “shoot up” a dining hall that serves kosher food.

No classes will be held Friday so as to observe a “community day, in recognition of the extraordinary stress of the past few weeks,” a spokeswoman for the Ivy League university told AFP on Thursday.

The threats allegedly made by Patrick Dai, 21, come amid what the US government says is a rise in antisemitic and Islamophobic events amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Dai allegedly posted to a Cornell discussion forum “calling for the deaths of Jewish people,” with a post saying he was “gonna shoot up 104 west,” a dining hall that mostly caters to Jewish students and is next to the Cornell Jewish Center, according to the Justice Department.

“In another post, Dai allegedly threatened to ‘stab’ and ‘slit the throat’ of any Jewish males he sees on campus, to rape and throw off a cliff any Jewish females, and to behead any Jewish babies,” the statement said, adding that Dai also threatened to shoot Jewish students at the school’s Ithaca, New York campus.

He was arrested Tuesday and is charged with “posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications,” according to prosecutors.

This booking photo released by the Broome County Sheriff’s Office shows Patrick Dai, 21, accused of making violent threats to Jewish classmates. Dai appeared in a New York court on November 1, 2023. (Handout/Broome County Sheriff’s Office/AFP)

“We will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell; indeed we will not tolerate hatred of any form, including racism or Islamophobia,” Cornell President Martha Pollack said Thursday. US Attorney General Merrick Garland has highlighted the case as part of “a significant increase in the volume and frequency of threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities across our country.”

In Illinois, a 71-year-old man stands accused of stabbing to death a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy last month in an attack linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

War erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre in Israel, which saw some 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing some 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

The Hamas-run health ministry says that IDF strikes and operations have killed more than 9,000 people since October 7. These figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

Following Dai’s arrest, the presidents of nine Israeli universities, in an open letter to their American colleagues, accused many US campuses of becoming “breeding grounds for anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiments, largely fueled by a naive and biased understanding of the conflict.”

At Harvard, Stanford and New York University, bitter clashes involving students, professors and administrators have blown up into viral debates on social media and charges of antisemitism, Islamophobia and threats to free speech.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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