Jewish students, parents and professors from Ithaca, New York-based Cornell University voiced their disgust after President Martha E. Pollack shared her “gratitude” for anti-Israel agitators, thanking them for “remaining peaceful and nonviolent.”

The students, parents and professors’ outrage came after Pollack, who recently announced her upcoming retirement, expressed her gratitude to protesters after the encampment was voluntarily taken down.

“While I do not condone the encampment, which was in clear violation of university policies, I want to acknowledge and express gratitude that in contrast to what has taken place at some other universities, the participants here remained peaceful and nonviolent throughout, and for the most part they tried to minimize the disruption caused,” Pollack wrote in a letter Tuesday to the student body.


New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks at Cornell University.

Cornell University President Martha Pollack, left, joins New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, center, while visiting students at the Center for Jewish Living at Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., Oct. 30, 2023. (Lindsay France/Cornell University)

Students speak out

Cornell University student Amanda Silberstein told Fox News Digital that Pollack’s letter was “an embarrassment and symptomatic of Cornell’s broader epidemic of antisemitism.”

“Her letter is an embarrassment and symptomatic of Cornell’s broader epidemic of antisemitism, which the school’s silence and false moral equivalency have allowed to fester and grow. She is cultivating an atmosphere where not only is hate speech against Jews being tolerated, but even explicit calls for violence against Jews are being condoned,” Silberstein said. “Her letter doesn’t mention me being called a ‘c— Zionist pig b—-,’  or the innumerable times we’ve been labeled ‘Baby killers,’ ‘Colonialists,’ ‘Nazis,’ and many more. Nor does it mention the incessant calls for fierce violence against Israelis and Jews, chanted by both professors and students, echoing Hamas’ unambiguous and unequivocal objective.”

“The administration consistently fails to enforce its own policies designed to protect Jewish students in favor of those who disregard the rules,” Silberstein said. “Under the banner of free speech, Cornell has become a hostile and dangerous environment for Jews. The illegal protests and violent rhetoric are ultimately the product of the university’s inaction.”

Talia Dror, a Jewish student at Cornell and the vice president of finance for the Cornellians for Israel group, shared her response with Fox News Digital following Pollack’s letter.

“The students you thank and defend are terrorizing students and stifling any dissenting opinion,” Dror wrote in part. “They are cosplaying as peace-loving and shouting phrases that call for the slaughter of Jews. They are endorsing terrorism. But I don’t even need to tell you that. You claim to uphold the principles of free speech, but when such an environment of intimidation exists, only people willing to sacrifice their careers and reputations are the ones afforded that right.”


Dror concluded her letter by saying that she would not be attending her college graduation due to Cornell’s “indoctrination” of students.

“Thanking these detractors for remaining not-violent is testament to the double standard created and upheld,” Dror said. “I will not be attending my ILR school graduation because I refuse to celebrate investing my life’s savings to attend an institution indoctrinating students with anti-Western rhetoric and hatred of the free world.”

Cornell campus buildings and courtyard

Students outside Goldwin Smith Hall at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. (Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Parents react

Sarah Cohen, a parent of a freshman Cornell student, shared her response to Pollack’s letter with Fox News Digital.

“There is so much hate against the Israelis on campus. You are very much aware of them, but decided not to mention them. We are called “Nazis,” “Zionist pigs,” “Baby killers,” “Colonialists,” “Death cult,” and the list goes on,” Cohen said. “These words were not used once, but repeatedly. Called for Intifada were done all the time.”

“And yet, you implicitly blamed the Israelis for creating a non-inclusive environment at Cornell,” she said.


cornell professor

William A. Jacobson, a clinical professor at Cornell Law School who joined the faculty in 2007, has called on the Cornell Board of Trustees to help Jewish students.  (Getty/FOX)

‘Stockholm Syndrome’

William A. Jacobson, Cornell law professor and founder of, told Fox News Digital that Pollack’s statement was “an insult to the entire rule-abiding Cornell community.”

“Outgoing President Martha Pollack’s campus-wide statement expressing “gratitude” to anti-Israel students who created an encampment in violation of Cornell policies was an insult to the entire rule-abiding Cornell community, but particularly the Jewish and pro-Israel students who have endured seven months of non-stop harassment, insults, defamation, and intimidation,” Jacobson said. “That Pollack praised encampment students for not becoming violent is an embarrassment. Have we sunk the bar so low on campus that not beating people up is worthy of presidential acclaim?”

Jacobson said Pollack’s statement of praise and appreciation of anti-Israel protesters was “some variation on Stockholm Syndrome.”

“The presidential statement reflects some variation on Stockholm Syndrome, lauding students assisted by faculty who took the campus hostage with bullhorns in study areas, marches including genocidal chants directed at Israeli Jews, vandalism of university property, and even putting Pollack on mock trial for complicity in genocide,” he said. “The encampment was only the final act in a months-long campus siege.:

“Pollack’s claim that the encampment was not disruptive is belied by university demands the encampment close because of disruption, the temporary suspension of six students, a Provost statement on the disruption, and a university statement decrying encampment chants of ‘there is only one solution, Intifada revolution.;”

Jacobson called for Pollack to “leave immediately.”

“Cornell is currently a rudderless ship, with this latest statement adding to the problem,” he said. “President Pollack announced she is retiring June 30. Pollack should leave immediately to avoid any more damage to the Cornell community.”

Cornell students on campus

A prominent Cornell University professor has called on the school’s board of trustees to take action after a series of antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents have left Jewish students feeling uncomfortable on campus. (Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Another Cornell University professor, who wished to remain anonymous, shared their response to Pollack’s letter with Fox News Digital, saying that her statement of support to anti-Israel agitators “hurt me to the bottom of my heart.”

“I just read your last email, and I am shocked. I cannot believe that you sent such an email. It hurt me to the bottom of my heart,” the professor said. “There are so many things that I would like to mention about your email. Yet, I wanted to write something now so I keep it short and only mention one point.”


“There is so much hate against the Israelis on campus. You are very much aware of them but decided not to mention them. We are called ‘Nazis,’ “Zionist pigs,’ ‘Baby killers,’ ‘Colonialists,’ ‘Death cult,’ and the list goes on,” the professor said. “These words were not used once, but repeatedly. Called for Intifada were done all the time. And yet, you implicitly blamed the Israelis for creating a non-inclusive environment at Cornell.”

Palestinian protests at college

Campus leaders and Jewish voices are sounding the alarm on antisemitism at U.S. colleges following Hamas’ terrorist attack against Israeli civilians. A Cornell University law professor is calling for the school to evaluate antisemitism on campus following anti-Israel events across multiple college campuses across the country.  (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images/Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

Retirement next

On May 9, Pollack announced that she would retire on June 30.

Cornell University Board of Trustees Kraig H. Kayser said in a prepared statement that Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff will step in as interim president starting on July 1, at which time Pollack will be given the title of president emerita by the Cornell Board of Trustees.


“Serving as the president of Cornell has been an amazing privilege; there are few roles that afford so much opportunity to make a positive difference in the world,” Pollack wrote in a statement announcing her departure. “After seven fruitful and gratifying years as Cornell’s president — capping a career in research and academia spanning five decades — I’m ready for a new chapter in my life. I greatly appreciate the continued support of our Board of Trustees and the many faculty, students, staff and alumni who have shared words of encouragement through my time as president, especially over the past academic year.”

Fox News Digital has reached out to Cornell University for comment.

Fox News Digital’s Greg Wehner contributed to this report.

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