Ivy League Prof Takes Abrupt Sabbatical After Cheerleading ‘Exhilarating’ Hamas Attacks
Merchandise for sale inside the Cornell Store at the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, US, on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. US college costs just keep climbing and the increase is pushing the annual price for the upcoming academic year at Ivy League schools toward yet another hold-on-to-your-mortarboard mark. Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An Ivy League professor has taken a sudden leave of absence from his position after cheerleading the brutal assault on Israel by Hamas terrorists on October 7, referring to the terror group’s actions as “exhilarating.”

“Professor Russell Rickford has requested and received approval to take a leave of absence from the university,” a statement from Cornell University’s media relations department read.

An email sent by another professor to students enrolled in his class read, “Professor Rickford will be taking a leave of absence and I will assume teaching responsibilities for this course for the remainder of the semester.”

One week after the terror attacks — during which over 1,300 Israeli men, women, and children were murdered, many of them civilians — Rickford, an associate history professor at the prestigious upstate New York institution, appeared at a pro-Palestinian protest and spoke about his reaction.

“It was exhilarating. It was exhilarating, it was energizing,” Rickford said of the attacks, telling onlookers that “you would not be human” if you did not share that sentiment. “I was exhilarated!”

Rickford later apologized for the “horrible choice of words”: “I recognize that some of the language I used was reprehensible and did not reflect my values. As I said in the speech, I abhor violence and the violent targeting of civilians. I am sorry for the pain that my reckless remarks have caused my family, my students, my colleagues and many others in this time of suffering.”

Following his remarks at the rally, however, a petition calling for Rickford’s resignation gathered more than 11,000 signatures. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) also called for the embattled professor to resign or be fired.

“As a person of authority at an educational institution, to celebrate murder, rape and abducting children and slaughtering children, I think he should be fired,” Gillibrand said. “There’s certainly no space for pro-Hamas protestors. That is someone who is supporting death, destruction, rape, murder, and slaughtering of innocent children, and families and seniors and holding hostages, so that cannot be supported.”

“By perpetuating these abhorrent views, Professor Rickford has not only violated his ethical responsibility as an educator but has also jeopardized the safety of the Jewish community and tarnished Cornell University’s reputation,” Tenney said in a letter to Cornell University’s president.

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