Jewish students and watchdog groups have said that antisemitic incidents are increasing on college campuses, the Washington Post reports. In one example, anonymous posters flooded a Cornell University message board with threats, prompting the school’s president to alert the FBI. “If you see a Jewish ‘person’ on campus follow them home and slit their throats,” one message said. Another threatened to “bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you pig jews.” A student was arrested in connection with those messages, according to NPR. College administrators had braced at the start of the Israel-Gaza conflict for an outbreak of antisemitism, Islamophobia, harassment and even violence. Free speech advocates predicted infringements on constitutional rights.
The solemn and peaceable candlelight vigils from earlier this month preceded uglier confrontations, leaving Jewish college students feeling anxious, afraid and unsafe. Amid what the Biden administration described as an “alarming rise” of antisemitism on college campuses, some Jewish students say they feel more vulnerable than ever before. A group called Stop AntiSemitism, which publicizes acts of bigotry against Jewish people, said it received a few reports of incidents daily before the Oct. 7 Hamas attack — occasionally a couple of dozen. Now, some 500 reports are arriving daily, said Liora Rez, who founded the group in 2018. The debates also pose a free-speech challenge for university leaders, who must walk a line between allowing members of the community to voice their views while still working to make campus groups feel safe. Activists argue about what constitutes antisemitism, and even where hatred of Jews is clear, it’s generally not illegal.