DANGEROUS DOWNPLAY: CBS Calls Campus Anti-Semitism 'Vigorous Debate'

November 2nd, 2023 12:24 AM

As threats and violence against Jews escalate across college campuses throughout the United States in the wake of Hamas' barbaric terrorist attacks, some in media choose to downplay or both-side the overall threat. Case in point, CBS News' report on the arrest of a student that threatened Jews at Cornell University.

Watch as correspondent Lilia Luciano describes the current antisemitic wildfire blazing through college campuses as "vigorous debate and protests":

LILIA LUCIANO: Vigorous debate and protests have erupted on college campuses since the Israel-Hamas war began, with some leading to violence and intimidation.

"Vigorous debate".

Just days ago, Jewish students were accosted at Cooper Union in New York, and ran to the library in order to evade a pro-Palestinian protest. CBS News, in fact, reported on this. This is not "vigorous debate". As one student told The New York Post:

Lent said she and other Jewish students inside the library feared for their safety as protesters — including some carrying Palestinian flags and signs reading “Zionism Hands Off Our Universities” — descended on the building.

In another such instance of "vigorous debate", an editor of the Harvard Law Review is accused of accosting and physically battering an Israeli student. Per The Washington Free Beacon:

The student, who asked to remain anonymous, described being pushed and shoved as he tried to film them with his phone. A report to the FBI identified two of the people laying hands on him as fellow Harvard University graduate students, one a law student, Ibrahim Bharmal, a member of the Harvard Law Review, and the other a divinity school graduate student, Elom Tettey Tamaklo, who lives with Harvard undergraduate students in supervisory role known as a proctor.

It bears repeating, that the "vigorous debate" line was uttered in a report about a student threatening to kill Jews on campus. In many ways, the line is reminiscent of another classic media line which sought to downplay an epidemic of violence as it spread across America: "fiery, but mostly peaceful".

Click "Expand" to view the full transcript of the aforementioned report as aired on the CBS Evening News on Wednesday, November 1st, 2023:

NORAH O’DONNELL: From the war in the Middle East to the rise in anti-semitic incidents here at home. A 21-year-old junior at Cornell University is facing federal charges after allegedly posting threats to kill or injure Jewish students at the Ivy League school. CBS's Lilia Luciano is on campus where she spoke with several students about the ongoing fears. 

LILIA LUCIANO: New York state police are now standing guard outside the Cornell center for Jewish Living after authorities say Patrick Dai, a junior engineering student at Cornell, threatened to kill Jewish students, including those who eat at this kosher dining hall.

COLLEEN BRADLEY: It's very tense on campus. A lot of students are definitely affected by it. 

LUCIANO: Today the 21-year-old was in federal court after his arrest Tuesday, and charged with making a string of anti-semitic threats online, which included threatening to stab and slit the throats of Jewish students. Police say they tracked him using his ip address, and that he confessed.

ATTORNEY GENERAL MERRICK GARLAND: As this arrest shows, we are focusing our efforts on confronting and disrupting illegal threats wherever they arise.

LUCIANO: But Dai's father told The New York Post via text that his son is innocent and that he’s suffering from severe depression, adding the family feared his son was suicidal.

Vigorous debate and protests have erupted on college campuses since the Israel-Hamas war began, with some leading to violence and intimidation. FBI director Christopher Wray: 

FBI DIRECTOR CHRISTOPHER WRAY: But the ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the United States to a whole 'nother level.

LUCIANO: Back on campus at Cornell, students say despite an increase in police presence and an arrest, students are still concerned about safety and free speech. 

DILAN MINUTELLO: I think people are little bit more afraid to, I guess, speak out, especially Jewish students. You know, because this is a threat against, you know, their very identity.

LUCIANO: I also heard from a group of Muslim students here on campus who condemned those horrific threats against Jewish students and said that they are a mockery of their religion. They also pointed to messages that are islamophobic and hateful on those message boards and said that they too feel unsafe in this increasingly tense environment. Norah.

O’DONNELL: Very tense. Lilia Luciano. Thank you.