A Cornell history professor — with a history of radical left views — called Hamas’s terrorist attacks in Israel “exciting” and “energizing” at a pro-Palestine rally earlier this week in the latest example of anti-Semitic rhetoric in academia.
Russell Rickford is an associate professor of history and, according to his Twitter bio, a “historian of the black radical tradition.”
He spoke of the attacks in terms of geopolitics, saying they “shifted the balance of politics and shattered Israel’s illusion of invincibility and gave Palestinians hope as he made his most incendiary statements.”
‘It was exciting. It was exciting, it was energizing. And if they weren’t excited by this challenge to the monopoly of violence, the shift in power, they wouldn’t be human. I was excited,” he told the crowd.
He was speaking at a protest in support of Palestine in the wake of the attacks that killed more than 1,400 people in Israel.
A Cornell history professor with a history of radical left views called Hamas’ terror attacks in Israel “exciting” and “energizing” at a pro-Palestine rally earlier this week
There was some approval and applause from the crowd as Rickford made his comments.
“That’s what they did. You don’t have to be a Hamas supporter to recognize it,” he added.
The people who filmed the video would not say whether the meeting took place on the New York campus.
In response to the speech, the crowd began chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Many Jewish groups believe the chant is anti-Semitic and intended to completely eliminate Israel.
Rickford has not tweeted since June, and neither he nor Cornell responded to requests for comment.
He was previously part of an effort to revamp policing on Ivy League campuses in the wake of the 2020 George Floyd protests.
Rickford opposed Ithaca’s attempt to consider an ambitious – and controversial – plan to rebuild its military force ‘from the ground up’, feeling it did not go far enough.
Russell Rickford is an associate professor of history and, according to his Twitter bio, a “historian of the black radical tradition”
The proposal would have replaced the 63-officer Ithaca Police Department with a new Department of Community Solutions and Public Safety, made up of both armed officers and unarmed “community solutions officers” to handle nonviolent calls such as petty thefts.
Some social justice activists dismiss it as a watered-down version of what they call “defunding the police.”
Rickford, who focuses on the Black radical tradition, said he and members of the Tompkins County Antiracist Coalition are “deeply skeptical” of the plan.
“We fear it is an attempt to rebrand the police while suppressing or erasing the fundamental demand for mass police disengagement that arose in the context of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor uprisings,” he wrote in a e-mail.
Academia has played a major role in the pro-Palestinian movement in the aftermath of the attacks.
Supporters of Palestine will meet at Harvard University on October 14. When the terrorist attacks were launched by Hamas on October 7, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee released a statement co-signed by 33 other Harvard student organizations, stating: “We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime fully responsible for all the unfolding violence’
Harvard students during the October 14 meeting on campus
The letter caused a huge backlash after 33 student associations supported the PSC’s statement “holding the Israeli regime fully responsible for all the unfolding violence.”
Harvard’s Arab Alumni Association has appealed for donations to help students’ mental health after they were subjected to “relentless bullying and intimidation” for blaming Israel for the October 7 Hamas attacks.
The Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee released a letter on October 7, co-signed by 33 other Harvard student organizations, stating: “We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime fully responsible for all the unfolding violence.”
The students leading the 33 organizations and the Solidarity Committee were singled out and faced calls to be blacklisted from future jobs.
On the day of the attacks, a letter was sent from more than thirty Harvard student groups, informing Hamas terrorists of launching an attack from Gaza on a music festival near the border and nearby villages. Women and children were murdered in their beds and an estimated 200 people were taken hostage.
Claudine Gay, Harvard’s president, said days later that the letter does not speak for the educational institution as a whole or its leadership. Her comments came after some criticized Harvard’s administration for taking too long to denounce the student letter.