DEAR PRESIDENT MARTHA E. POLLACK

AND CORNELL ADMINISTRATION



As alumni, parents, and community members of Cornell University represented by Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF-Cornell), we express concern for the recent rise of antisemitism and anti-Israel bigotry on the Cornell University campus and in Ithaca.

In light of the recent conflict in Gaza and despite a declared cease-fire, antisemitic rhetoric and acts of hate against Jewish and Israel-supporting people continue to increase throughout the country. In the past two weeks, Jewish students have overwhelmingly reported experiencing antisemitism and are in search of advocacy and support. Many Jewish and Zionist students at Cornell feel unsafe, unheard, and unable to speak up in the current campus climate. 

Last week saw three anti-Israel rallies on campus and in Ithaca, reflecting a deeply antisemitic rhetoric that occurs amidst an onslaught of dehumanizing propaganda against Israel, actively promoted at universities across the globe, Cornell included. Students are frightened by the recent violent attacks on Jews throughout the country. They have been intimidated into silence, which only exacerbates the one-sidedness of the discussion. Jewish students are experiencing harassment both in person and online, including but not limited to a “Hitler quote" and swastika graffiti in a dormitory on North Campus and a report of hateful and verbal harassment, “see ya later dirty Jew." We believe the nature of this hate is exacerbated by a one-sided statement, read at the Cornell Student Assembly meeting, blaming the current conflict solely on Israel and calling for BDS, with insufficient notice for Jewish or pro-Israel students to respond.

President Pollack has been a leader with her often quoted, strong statement against BDS. Now is the time for Cornell to again be a leader and to reassure its Jewish community. We are requesting that Cornell’s administration make a statement in support of the Jewish community and to endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, which includes the following: 

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Never has the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism been more relevant and necessary to clearly identify and combat all forms of bigotry, violence, and hatred against Jewish students and faculty. The IHRA Definition was endorsed by Presidents Biden, Trump and Obama, as well as many universities, countries and agencies throughout the world.

We unequivocally support free speech and encourage people to learn about many different perspectives, including both Palestinian and Israeli viewpoints. We, the undersigned Cornell alumni, faculty, parents, and community members as represented by ACF-Cornell, thank you for your commitment to supporting academic freedom and equality at Cornell and urge you to adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism and take an unwavering stand against antisemitism on campus.