Campus Watch October 19, 2023

A roundup of incidents, good and bad, happening on college campuses.
October 19, 2023

Cornell Professor Calls Hamas Terror Attack “Exhilarating”

Cornell University Professor Russell Rickford called the Hamas terror attack against Israel on October 7 “exhilarating” during an October 15 pro-Palestinian rally.

The Cornell Daily Sun reported that Rickford said “In those first few hours, even as horrific acts were being carried out, many of which we would not learn about until later, there are many Gazans of good will, many Palestinians of conscience, who abhor violence, as do you, as do I. Who abhor the targeting of civilians, as do you, as do I. Who were able to breathe, they were able to breathe for the first time in years. It was exhilarating … I was exhilarated.” 

Rickford told the Sun that he was referring to Hamas breaking “through the apartheid wall,” calling it “a symbol of resistance … It really signaled that the Palestinian will to resist had not been broken,” he said. “In subsequent days, we learned of some of the horrifying realities. I want to make it clear that Hamas is a fundamentalist organization. It’s important to note that in some ways, the fundamentalism of Hamas mirrors that of Israeli leadership.” Rickford added that he abhors “the killing of civilians.”

Rickford apologized for his remarks in an October 18 letter to the Sun, which stated in part: “I apologize for the horrible choice of words that I used in a portion of a speech that was intended to stress grassroots African American, Jewish and Palestinian traditions of resistance to oppression. I recognize that some of the language I used was reprehensible and did not reflect my values. As I said in the speech, I abhor violence and the violent targeting of civilians.” He also condemned antisemitism “and all systems that dehumanize, divide and oppress people.”

Israeli Columbia University Student Assaulted 

An Israeli student at Columbia University was reportedly assaulted on October 11 by a suspect who was tearing down flyers that showed the names and pictures of those who were taken hostage by Hamas.

The Columbia Daily Spectator reported that the 24-year-old Israeli student, identified as “I.A.,” approached the suspect, a 19-year-old female, he and a few others saw her taking down the posters.  The suspect responded by allegedly “screaming obscenities toward the students and hit I.A. with a stick,” the Spectator reported. The suspect has been arrested and charged with one count of assault. 

Stanford Lecturer Suspended After Allegedly Forcing Jewish Students to Stand in a Corner

A lecturer at Stanford University has been suspended after he allegedly forced Jewish and Israeli students in class to stand in a corner, claiming that “this is what Israel does to the Palestinians.”

The allegations, as reported in The Forward and the San Francisco Chronicle, include the lecturer asking all the Jewish and Israeli students in class to raise their hands and then separated them from their belongings, putting them in a corner. The instructor allegedly separated the students based on their identities and ethnic backgrounds into “colonizers” and “colonized.” At one point, the lecturer is alleged to have asked how many people were killed in the Holocaust; a student replied, “Six million.” The lecturer then allegedly said, “Yes. Only six million” before claiming that more people have died from “colonizers” and then accused Israel of being a colonizer. Additionally, the lecturer is alleged to have called Hamas “freedom fighters” and denied that they are a terror group. 

The university issued a statement on October 11 that the lecturer has been suspended and the university is investigating the matter.

NYU Law Student Bar Association President Loses Job Offer After Blaming Israel for Hamas Terror Attack

New York University (NYU) Law’s Student Bar Association (SBA) president is facing widespread criticism and apparently lost a job offer at a law firm for stating in a newsletter that Israel was to blame for the Hamas massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7.

SBA President Ryna Workman, who uses they/them pronouns, stated in the newsletter that “Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life” and “I will not condemn Palestinian resistance.” The Winston & Strawn LLP law firm announced in a statement posted to social media that “a former associate published certain inflammatory comments regarding Hamas’ recent terrorist attack on Israel and distributed it to the NYU Student Bar Association.” “These comments are profoundly in conflict with Winston & Strawn’s values as a firm,” the law firm continued. “Accordingly, the Firm has rescinded the law student’s offer of employment.”

U of A SJP Postpones “Day of Resistance” Protest After University President Says National SJP “Made Statements Endorsing the Actions of Hamas”

University of Arizona’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter postponed their “Day of Resistance” protest following the university president’s statement said that the National SJP “made statements endorsing the actions of Hamas in Israel, which are, of course, antithetical to our university’s values.”

University President Robert Robbins had said in an October 11 statement that the Hamas massacre of Israeli civilians was “antisemitic hatred, murder, and a complete atrocity” and that while SJP is allowed to hold the protest on campus, they do not reflect the views of the university. University of SJP’s chapter responded with a post on Instagram saying that Robbins statement reflected “the blatant hostility and discrimination we have faced in our attempts to uplift Palestinians and call for an end to the occupation.” Consequently, the SJP chapter said they postponed the protest for safety reasons.

This article has been updated to include Rickford’s apology.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.