Photo Credit: public domain
Ezra Cornell, co-founder of Cornell University. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

“Just say no to Jewish lies!” urged large black and white posters with swastikas plastering several buildings and a statue of Ezra Cornell at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York on Monday morning. The posters promoted a so-called “Solar Cross Society” that has thus far not been found to exist, and recommended that students ‘Join the white gang.’

It is not the first racist incident on campus, with reports of others dating back more than a year. University President Martha E. Pollack had already announced in September the establishment of a presidential task force to examine and address “persistent problems of bigotry and intolerance at Cornell.”

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The campus newspaper, Cornell Daily Sun, quoted a statement by Pollack in response to Monday’s incident saying, “Whoever is responsible for these fliers is hiding under the cover of anonymity, having posted them overnight.

“Whoever they are, they need to ask themselves why they chose our campus, because Cornell reviles their message of hatred; we revile it as an institution, and I know from many personal conversations that thousands of Cornellians deplore it individually.”

Pollack called it a “clear and hateful message of anti-Semitism and white supremacy” and said it “appears that the fliers’ supposed sponsoring organization does not exist.”

She nevertheless said the sentiments expressed by the posters were “abhorrent” and condemned the incident “in the strongest possible terms.”

Pollack added a request to the campus community “to reach out and be especially kind to one another.” All of the posters were removed by the time the statement was issued and the university’s police department was notified about the incident.

The talkbacks to the reporting on the incident by the student newspaper were predictably graphic, but the outrage was particularly fierce and there were bitter references among the Jewish students to Holocaust ancestry.

Rabbi Ari Weiss, director of Cornell Hillel, also posted a statement on the campus Hillel Facebook page, saying Hillel will continue working to “make sure all Jewish students feel safe and welcome on our campus and that incidents like this do not happen again.”

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