Anti-Israel graffiti reported on Central New York college campus amid tension

Anti-Israel graffiti has been reported on a college campus in Central New York.

The messages “F— Israel,” “Free Palestine” and “Zionism = Racism” were spray painted on the main sidewalk of Cornell University’s Campus Road, according to the Cornell Review. The red-and-white graffiti was discovered before 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.

According to the Review, similar vandalism was found on Ho Plaza near the Cornell Store.

The New York Post reports the graffiti was cleaned up by university workers Wednesday. The vandal or vandals have not been identified.

The incident comes after weeks of tension at the Ithaca, N.Y., school related to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Russell Rickford, an associate professor of history at Cornell, sparked national headlines when he spoke at a pro-Palestinian rally near the Ivy League school, calling the Hamas attacks on Israel “exhilarating” and “energizing.” More than 1,400 people were killed in the surprise attacks by the Palestinian militant group on Oct. 7 and more than 200 people have been taken hostage, Israeli officials said; the death toll in Gaza from Israeli airstrikes soared past 7,000 on Thursday, according to Palestinian officials.

“In those first few hours, even as horrific acts were being carried out, many of which we would not learn about until later — there are many Gazans of goodwill, many Palestinians of conscience, who abhor violence, as do you, as do I, who abhor the targeting of civilians, as do you, as do I — who were able to breathe,” Rickford said during the Oct. 15 rally, according to video of his controversial speech. “They were able to breathe for the first time in years. It was exhilarating. It was energizing. And if they weren’t exhilarated by this challenge to the monopoly of violence, by this shifting of the balance of power, then they would not be human. I was exhilarated.”

Thousands signed multiple petitions calling for Cornell to fire Rickford for his “hate speech.” Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Republican Rep. Marc Molinaro, whose 19th District includes Ithaca, both criticized Rickford.

“This level of antisemitism and disregard for innocent lives is beyond shameful and disgusting,” Molinaro wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

In a , Cornell Univeristy called Rickford’s comments “reprehensible” and demonstrative of “no regard whatsoever for humanity.” The school said Rickford spoke “in direct opposition to all we stand for at Cornell” and vowed to review his conduct.

Rickford later apologized and has taken a leave of absence, the university said. Another academic will take over his teaching responsibilities for the remainder of the semester, according to the Daily Beast.

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