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US university cancels classes after anti-Semitic threats

US university cancels classes after anti-Semitic threats
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Cornell University said Thursday it has canceled classes for a day after a student was charged with making anti-Semitic threats, including one to “shoot up” a dining hall that serves kosher food.

No classes will be held Friday so as to observe a “community day, in recognition of the extraordinary stress of the past few weeks,” a spokeswoman for the Ivy League university told AFP.

The threats allegedly made by Patrick Dai, 21, come amid what the US government says is a rise in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic events in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

Dai allegedly posted to a Cornell discussion forum “calling for the deaths of Jewish people,” with a post saying he was “gonna shoot up 104 west,” a dining hall that mostly caters to Jewish students and is next to the Cornell Jewish Center, according to the Justice Department.

“In another post, Dai allegedly threatened to ‘stab’ and ‘slit the throat’ of any Jewish males he sees on campus, to rape and throw off a cliff any Jewish females, and to behead any Jewish babies,” the statement said, adding that Dai also threatened to shoot Jewish students at the school’s Ithaca, New York campus.

He was arrested Tuesday and is charged with “posting threats to kill or injure another using interstate communications,” according to prosecutors.

“We will not tolerate antisemitism at Cornell; indeed we will not tolerate hatred of any form, including racism or Islamophobia,” Cornell President Martha Pollack said Thursday.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland has highlighted the case as part of “a significant increase in the volume and frequency of threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities across our country.”

In Illinois, a 71-year-old man stands accused of stabbing to death a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy last month in an attack linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

The war was sparked by the surprise October 7 Hamas attack from the Gaza Strip on Israel which killed more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, Israeli officials say.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says relentless Israeli retaliatory bombardment has killed more than 9,000 people, also mostly civilians, in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Following Dai’s arrest, the presidents of nine Israeli universities, in an open letter to their American colleagues, accused many US campuses of becoming “breeding grounds for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments, largely fueled by a naive and biased understanding of the conflict.”

At Harvard, Stanford and New York University, bitter clashes involving students, professors and administrators have blown up into viral debates on social media and charges of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and threats to free speech.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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