The FBI has been alerted about a series of threatening antisemitic emails sent to University of Pennsylvania staff. The agency is working with university police, according to UPenn President Liz Magill.
Magill sent a letter to the UPenn community explaining that she learned that some university staff received “vile, disturbing antisemitic emails threatening violence against members of our Jewish community, specifically naming Penn Hillel and Lauder College House.” The messages targeted the personal identities of the recipients. Fortunately, no credible threats were found. Police conducted safety sweeps of Penn Hillel, an on-campus Jewish organization, and Lauder College House, an on-campus dorm named for the family of Estee Lauder. Ronald Lauer is a graduate of UPenn and recently threatened to cut off donations if the university did not do more to fight antisemitism.
The campus was already feeling heightened tensions since a Palestinian literary festival was held before the massacres of October 7. The event created angry reactions by major donors.
An FBI spokesperson said the bureau is working with UPenn Police.
“We encourage members of the public to immediately report anything they consider suspicious to law enforcement. Nothing is more important than the safety of our communities and we will not tolerate violence motivated by hate and extremism,” the spokesperson said.
President Magill released a statement that threats of violence will not be tolerated.
“At a time when campuses across the country are being targeted with these types of threats, my first and highest priority is the safety and security of our community,” Magill said. “Threats of violence are not tolerated at Penn and will be met with swift and forceful action. Penn Public Safety is working urgently with the FBI to identify the individual or individuals who are responsible for these hateful, threatening emails and to ensure they are apprehended and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Across the country and world, we are witnessing pernicious acts of antisemitism, including on college and university campuses,” Magill said in a previous statement. “I am appalled by incidents on our own campus, and I’ve heard too many heartbreaking stories from those who are fearful for their safety right here at Penn. This is completely unacceptable.”
Magill has faced calls from university donors to resign for not doing enough to combat antisemitism on campus. She recently announced an action plan that focuses on safety and security, engagement, an education.
In another incident, a video clip was shared by Bronx Rep. Ritchie Torres that shows a student addressing a crowd and urged them to remember what happened in Israel one month ago today. A female UPenn student praised Hamas’ “glorious October 7” incursion into southern Israel. She describes “joyful and powerful images” from that day. She went on to say she felt empowered and happy.
The speaker concludes her speech saying, ‘Hold that feeling in your hearts… channel it through every action you take… go down to the streets every day and don’t ever let them feel like you quietly accept this genocide.’
That campus has a real problem. It has been shocking to see the extent of the student demonstrations on college campuses across the country. Antisemitism has always existed but not to this extent. It has to be shut down on college campuses and if the current presidents can’t do it, they should be removed and replaced. Wealthy donors can start the ball rolling by shutting off donations until the problem is resolved.