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Cornell professor who called Hamas attacks ‘exhilarating’ takes leave of absence

‘I recognize that some of the language I used was reprehensible,’ professor wrote in apology letter

A Cornell University professor who spoke positively of the Hamas terror attacks on Israel has taken a leave of absence from the university.

History Professor Russell Rickford called the group’s actions “exhilarating” on October 15 at a rally off-campus in Ithaca, N.Y., according to video obtained by The College Fix.

According to an email acquired by the Cornell Review, another professor took over Rickford’s survey course on post-Civil War African American history.

History Professor Tamika Nunley sent an email to the class Friday, writing that “Professor Rickford will be taking a leave of absence” and she “will assume teaching responsibilities for this course for the remainder of the semester,” the conservative campus paper reported.

Cornell media relations confirmed Rickford “has requested and received approval to take a leave of absence from the university,” according to the Review.

In his speech to the crowd on October 15, Rickford said that “Hamas has shifted the balance of power.”

Rickford added that he abhors the targeting of children and civilians, yet added “but we are able to breathe — for the first time in years.”

“It was exhilarating,” he said. “It was exhilarating, it was energizing.”

The professor’s comments were met with cheers of “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea!”

In a statement on October 17 signed by President Martha Pollack and Board of Trustees Chairman Kraig Kayser, Cornell condemned Rickford’s rhetoric.

“We learned yesterday of comments that Professor Russell Rickford made over the weekend at an off-campus rally where he described the Hamas terrorist attacks as ‘exhilarating,'” Pollack and and Kayser wrote. “This is a reprehensible comment that demonstrates no regard whatsoever for humanity.”

“The university is taking this incident seriously and is currently reviewing it consistent with our procedures,” they continued.

A petition demanding Cornell fire Professor Rickford, posted to Change.org on October 16, garnered more than 11,600 signatures as of Monday.

In a letter published in The Cornell Daily Sun on October 18, Rickford apologized for his “horrible choice of words.”

“I recognize that some of the language I used was reprehensible and did not reflect my values,” he wrote. “As I said in the speech, I abhor violence and the violent targeting of civilians.”

“I want to make it clear that I unequivocally oppose and denounce racism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, militarism, fundamentalism and all systems that dehumanize, divide and oppress people,” he continued.

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IMAGE: YouTube/The College Fix

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