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September 20, 2022 2:28 pm
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Cornell University Jewish Community Holds Rally to Protest ‘Wrong and Detestable’ Swastika Graffiti

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Swastika graffiti carved into sidewalk at Bebe Lake, a reservoir on the campus of Cornell University. Photo: Jewish on Campus.

Cornell University’s Jewish community on Monday held a rally at the Ho Plaza to protest the carving of a swastika into a sidewalk near Bebe Lake, a reservoir on the university’s 745 acre campus.

The demonstration, which included prayer and speeches by Jewish student leaders, followed the incident’s reporting by Jewish on Campus (JOC), an advocacy group led by University of Chicago senior Julia Jassey. It is the fourth antisemitic incident at Cornell University, where over 3,000 Jewish undergraduates are enrolled, in five years.

“One thing I’m saddened by is the fact that every couple of years, we have to put together this of vigil,” Cornell Hillel executive director Rabbi Ari Weiss told The Cornell Daily Sun on Monday. “But it’s important for us as a Jewish community to stand up to say: We belong at Cornell [and] if there are hateful symbols, we will fight them, we will stand together, [and] we will invite our allies to stand with us, as we will stand with others.”

Rabbi Weiss added that the “swastika, in general, is something that’s deeply, deeply upsetting.”

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“It’s a hateful symbol to show up just like that on campus,” he continued. “The same thing happened when it showed up on campus buildings, in the snow and in dorms a few years ago.”

An estimated 50 students attended Monday’s rally at Ho Plaza, The Cornell Daily Sun reported. On its grounds stood two easels holding placards titled, “I’m Proud to Be Jewish Because” and “I Stand Up to Antisemitism By,” on which students wrote responses varying from “G-d is good” to “Not staying silent.”

Cornell University president Martha Pollack confirmed on Thursday that an investigation has begun to determine who graffitied the swastika at Bebe Lake.

“As yet we do not know who is responsible or whether they were committed by members of the Cornell community,” Pollack said. “Regardless, they are wrong and they are detestable.”

Cornell Hillel also issued a statement about the incident, which denounced another in which a banner declaring, “Burn prisons, free them all, Attica to Palestine,” was hung in view of its offices.

“We are saddened and angered to learn of antisemitic graffiti equating a Jewish star with a swastika drawn into the gravel sidewalk at Bebe Lake,” Cornell Hillel said. “Antisemitism has no place on campus and goes against Cornell University’s core values of creating a culture of belonging.”

On Tuesday, Jewish on Campus, said it is “inspired by the Jewish community at Cornell University.”

“In the face of antisemitism, they did not let fear hold back their pride, and they came together as a community to take a stand,” JOC spokesperson Michal Cohen told The Algemeiner. “Antisemitism may be tough, but Jewish students are tougher.”

JOC, which recently filed a civil rights complaint with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights about the case of a Jewish woman who was expelled from a sexual assault awareness group because she embraces Zionism, also called on Cornell “to meet with Jewish leaders and take steps to combat antisemitism on campus.”

“Make Cornell a safer and more inclusive environment for all,” Cohen continued.

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