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VIDEO – Campus Antisemitism Crisis: Cornell, The Ivies, and Beyond

VIDEO – Campus Antisemitism Crisis: Cornell, The Ivies, and Beyond

“So what is the purpose of what we’re talking about tonight? The way I would term it is we’re not here to talk about October 7th. We’re really here to talk about October 8th and 9th and 10th, and the reactions on campuses that I think shocked a lot of people.”

On Tuesday night, December 19, 2023, the Legal Insurrection Foundation and Cornell Free Speech Alliance held a joint online webinar, Campus Antisemitism Crisis: Cornell, The Ivies, and Other U.S. Universities. The event was a big success, with almost 400 people online.

The panelists were:

  • William Jacobson: William A. Jacobson is a Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Securities Law Clinic at Cornell Law School. Professor Jacobson was the founder of Legal Insurrection website in 2008.
  • Amanda Silberstein:  Amanda Silberstein is a sophomore at Cornell University pursuing a degree in Hotel Administration with a minor in Law & Society. She recently testified before the House Judiciary Committee, addressing the alarming rise in antisemitic rhetoric at Cornell. Through various media appearances, she exposes the pervasive expressions of antisemitism among Cornell professors and students.
  • Susan Price: Susan Price graduated Cornell with a Bachelor of Science in urban and regional studies and a Master of Regional Planning. Her father, husband, brother-in-law, and one of her son’s graduated Cornell and her niece is a current student. Susan has been an active member of the Cornell Free Speech Alliance for two years.
  • Kemberlee Kaye: Kemberlee Kaye serves as the Operations and Editorial Director for the Legal Insurrection Foundation. Kemberlee is the Senior Contributing Editor of Legal Insurrection website, where she has worked since 2014. She also serves as the Managing Editor for, a research project of the Legal Insurrection Foundation.

(For full bios see our prior post about the webinar)

The full video and a partial transcript are below.


Here are some short excerpts from the event, selected by each of us (with time stamp where it appears in the video, auto-generated, may contain transcription errors):


(00:03:05): …  So what is the purpose of what we’re talking about tonight? The way I would term it is we’re not here to talk about October 7th. We’re really here to talk about October 8th and 9th and 10th, and the reactions on campuses that I think shocked a lot of people.

It was not what I think I expected. It was not what a lot of people expected within 24 hours of the most horrific, barbaric attack on Jews since the Holocaust. You all know what happened on October 7th, and you would’ve thought there would be near universal condemnation of it. You would’ve thought there would be universal sympathy for the Jewish people from it. But that’s not what happened. And I think what we want to talk about is why is that not what happened and why is that particularly not what happened on campuses and particularly so-called elite campuses, you know, Cornell, Harvard, UPenn. How is it that we actually have people supporting October 7th? How is it that we have people calling for more October 7th? And what does it reflect about our society, and particularly the campuses?

(00:06:02): I think these trends started long ago, but I would trace it basically back to the racialization of the Middle East dispute … but it’s really not a racial dispute. That racial aspect and the racialization of the conflict was a deliberate strategy. It was a deliberate strategy to try to isolate the supposedly white Jews from the rest of the world. And so you have the racialization of the Middle East dispute at the same time you begin to have a racialization of academia and a racialization of the campuses where every dispute now, almost every dispute is viewed through a racial lens.

And that’s certainly the case at Cornell. And really throughout academia. So as you’re having a racialization of the Middle East dispute, you’re also having a racialization of the campuses…. the student groups and the non-student groups, facilitating them aand backing them would portray this in racial terms as students of color versus white supremacist Israel. We saw that at Cornell many times. … And so you have the racialization of the dispute, you have the racialization of the campuses through various ideologies that are focused on race, and you have that reflected in the campus agitation against Israel… It’s an attempt to isolate Israel and its attempt, frankly, to isolate Israel supporters on campus, many of whom are Jewish.

(00:09:20): The second strain that you have is a lack of faculty diversity of viewpoint. It’s not only a diversity of viewpoint problem, liberal versus conservative, but it’s a diversity of viewpoint problem when, as regards Israel, it is very difficult in academia to get hired if you are conservative, openly conservative. It is also very difficult in academia to get hired if you are openly pro-Israel. And so what we see on the campuses, including Cornell, is there are few-to-none professors who are openly pro-Israel. There are a fair number who are openly hostile to Israel, and they drive the academic debate on campuses. I cannot think… of any event, sponsored by an academic department, .. which could fairly be characterized as pro-Israel. There are almost every week, maybe more than once a week, academic programs sponsored by departments which are openly hostile to Israel…. And so you have this imbalance on campus of a professoriate, the vocal minority of whom are extremely and relentlessly hostile to Israel. And so you have this atmosphere on campus, which has played out at Cornell is racialized isolation of Jewish students….

(00:11:29): …And it’s an environment which I do not believe this administration is cognizant of. I do not believe it is one they are willing to acknowledge. And the best proof of that, and this is publicly available, at the Faculty Senate on November 8th…. A professor who is Israeli asked the president of the university, what are you going do about this relentless false demonization of Israel from the faculty? And her response was that, and I’m paraphrasing, … that’s not really our problem. That’s for the community to decide… There are powerful cultural forces working themselves out on campuses which are more lopsided and more anti-Israel than any place else in this country. And so it is not surprising that when October 7th happens, October 8th happens.


(00:37:08): If I could do one thing, it would be to completely remove the DEI programming and bureaucracy at Cornell and other schools. The racialization of the conflict and the racialization of the campuses, I think has torn us apart. I think things have gotten dramatically worse in the last three years since this was imposed on the campus. And I think if we did nothing else but focus on each student and faculty member and staff member as an individual deserving of respect and deserving of fair and equal treatment without regard to skin, color, race, or ethnicity, we would promote more cohesion. We would promote more justice. We cannot address the problems that we’re having on campus as long as everything, and I mean, everything is looked at through a racial lens, so needs to be gotten rid of. I think this administration is never going to do it. They’re going to double down, but they are making things worse, not better.


(00:12:55): …Since October 7th, there have been coordinated anti-Israel activities on multiple campuses. Walkouts, die-ins, teach-ins, occupation of buildings, divestment demands, declared days of no shopping because tax revenue goes to Israel, demands for less policing because the increase in policing due to the protests and threats against Jews makes them feel unsafe. And the day of resistance, which used the National Students for Justice in Palestine, SJP, toolkit, which included flyers stating Zionism equals racism. Anti-Zionist groups lit menorahs during protests they called Hanukkah ceasefire and occupied libraries during finals week.

(00:20:24) … The presidents who testified in front of Congress were asked if they knew what antisemitism was. They didn’t. They can’t fight the problem without understanding it. Universities should adopt the non-binding International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, IHRA, Working Definition of Antisemitism. Universities need to enforce their rules about vandalism, harassment and protests. Protests should not interfere with students’ access to living and learning. Jews applying to college should watch how administrations are responding to recent events and see which have active Jewish communities. Jewish students should be part of student government, newspapers and clubs where they can have their voices heard.

(00:38:15) I would have university presidents and boards of trustees adopt the non-binding International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism. Let the Jews decide how to define antisemitism, not SJP or the Coalition for Mutual Liberation. The IHRA definition has been endorsed by more than 40 countries, at least 30 states, including New York, the State Department, the last three presidents, and over 1,000 other entities. It should be used as a tool to identify incidents and to educate. And for training for freshmen, student government, faculty, staff, and security. It would show leadership and would be a great sign to students, parents, and alumni who have lost confidence in these universities.

(00:50:27) But what I say to people is to support Cornell Hillel, and they have a new building program. They’re going to have a building. They’re the only Ivy League school that doesn’t have its own Hillel building. And that’s a separate 501-C3 nonprofit. So you can donate to that. It won’t count towards Cornell’s fundraising goals and number of donors and any of that. And also, Chabad at Cornell is also having a building project. … But definitely let Cornell know why you’re not donating to them directly.

(00:56:11) … the only exception to that might be if you were donating to a specific chair in Jewish studies. It’s my understanding right now, there’s only a course on Palestine and they don’t have a Holocaust course right now. So there really should be a class on the Holocaust and on modern Israel. So if there was a chair for either of those, and if there was some way for the donor to be sure that it wasn’t an anti-Zionist professor that was installed in that role. Because clearly the students are lacking in knowledge and that would really be helpful and beneficial.


(00:23:28) What’s happening to the Jewish community on campus today is that not only is hate speech being permitted as long as Jews are the targets, but even affirmative calls for violence and genocide against Jews that are not constitutionally protected are being sanctioned. Jewish communities thrive on many campuses with Jewish faculty excelling as educators and administrators within the nation’s top institutions. Yet paradoxically, as a result of a multi-year policy of promoting and fostering antisemitic and anti-Israel Middle East programming, the American college campus has recently become a prominent breeding ground for the propagation and promulgation of antisemitism. Jew haters exploit schools’ commitment to free speech, cloaking their propaganda in the guise of academic freedom. They have hijacked schools’ commitment to social justice and associated the Palestinian cause with that of oppressed people of color, falsely assigning to Israel the role of the white colonizer and oppressor.

(00:24:25) Eager to demonstrate their adherence to free expression principles, university administrators, driven by idealism and their desire to pacify the most strident voices in the student body, fail to discern between constructive discussions that nurture intellectual growth and dialogue that descends into defamation and falsehoods. Most presidents presumably strive to foster and uphold safe learning environments, but in an attempt to not take sides, many have issued tepid and generic responses to blatant, unapologetic antisemitism, using the shield of free expression as an excuse to not condemn it. Such morally repugnant statements speak volumes to students. In fact, by supporting the very idea that there are two sides, they are validating the view that terror is resistance. Universities’ silence in the face of reprehensible and historic evil against the Jewish people when the only response should be unequivocal condemnation is an outrage.

But for me, what is more painful than the misinformed students propagating harmful lies is the professors who proclaim it as truth to classrooms full of impressionable students. On Sunday, October 15th, Cornell University professor of history, Russell Rickford referred to Hamas’ brutal massacre as “exhilarating” and “energizing” at a pro-Palestinian rally in the Ithaca Commons.

(00:29:09) Rather than condemning Hamas’ horrific acts of terror, he embraced them for “shifting the balance of power” and “ushering in a new era of Palestinian resistance.” In further comments, he did not retract his remarks or express remorse. He described the unprovoked barbaric attacks perpetrated against innocent civilians as a form of long awaited and justified resistance. His praise of undeniable terrorism fueled animosity towards Jews on campus and incited violence against our Jewish community.

These professors are pressuring students to hate Jews. Dehumanizing portrayals and the propagation of false narratives fuel in incidents of discrimination, death threats, and intimidation against Jews. Allowing anti-Semitic discourse to go unchallenged leads to its spread and normalization across society. Extremists are emboldened and a new generation is indoctrinated in hate. This is not social activism fueled by concern for the wellbeing and future of the Palestinian people. It is fueled by deep-seated vicious hatred towards Jews. Jewish students should not fear being verbally or physically attacked, socially ostracized, harassed online, and marginalized on campus. We should not be forced into silence or submission. This wave of antisemitism is a widespread poison that the school’s silence and false moral equivalency has allowed to fester and grow. As we saw in the recent hearing, university’s words have meaning. Presidents must not abdicate their obligation to lead students.


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There are exorbitant amounts of money fueling these anti-Israel movements flowing in from all over the world, from individuals, governments, and organizations whose sole aim is the destruction of Israel.
What occurred on campus and on public squares around the world on Oct. 8th and since, has been incubating for decades, and enabled by those billions of dollars.
But their entire foundations are built upon sand. They are not only false but are driven by irrationality and malice.
I believe going after them, and shutting down that money spigot will bring certain death to their malign schemes and wicked aims.
Is that even possible? I have no idea, but money talks to these universities and particularly to the people aligned with such movements. Chop them down at the roots.