A professor at at Cornell University is being criticized for comments he made about the Hamas attack on Israel - and now the University is speaking out.

Professor Russell Rickford said the attack by Hamas was "exhilarating and energizing...and if it weren't exhilarating by the challenge to the monopoly of violence, by this shifting off the balance of power, then they would not be human. I was exhilarated," he exclaimed during a speech in front of about 50 students on campus in Ithaca.

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"The despicable atrocities perpetrated by the Hamas terrorist organization in Israel last week left the world reeling with shock, horror, anger and grief. The brutal attacks shattered countless innocent lives, caused unimaginable pain and challenged our very understanding of humanity. The intentional targeting and killing of innocent civilians is the very definition of terrorism. I am sickened by statements glorifying the evilness of Hamas terrorism. Any members of our community who have made such statements do not speak for Cornell; in fact, they speak in direct opposition to all we stand for at Cornell. There is no justification for or moral equivalent to these violent and abhorrent acts.

I am outraged by them and, along with senior leadership of the Cornell Board of Trustees, I again condemn them in the strongest possible terms.

The Cornell community on our campuses and around the world includes students, faculty, staff and alumni who are Israeli, Palestinian and others who have close ties to the region. As the fighting there continues, the pain and suffering felt by all people throughout the region is and will be completely heart-wrenching. I am a grandmother and I weep for the Israeli babies who were murdered or kidnapped; I weep for the Palestinian babies now in harm’s way.

Please know that the safety of all members of our community remains a top priority. On the Ithaca campus, Cornell Police have increased patrols and police presence and are working with the Office of Emergency Management and with city, state and federal agencies to continually assess conditions. They are also in close coordination with the public safety teams on our campuses in New York City and beyond.

Our community must, as it always has, stand against hatred of all forms. I am inspired by our Jewish, Palestinian and Muslim students who were joined by others in holding peaceful vigils last week and who were generous in their expression of shared loss for all in the region. I hope that the Cornell community is able to find grace, care and empathy for one another, and to support one another in the very difficult days ahead.

As we reflect on the pain of all those affected, and mourn the loss of innocent lives, I pray for the safe return of all hostages, and that our collective humanity will prevail over hate."

In his speech, Rickford claimed that "Palestinians who were born into violence and oppression "were able to breathe for the first time in years" after the brutal attack on Israel.

The speech on campus was a pro-Palestinian rally. While Rickford's comments did not draw condemnation at the event, they only prompted a few lackluster claps from the crowd, some of whom seemed to have gathered out of curiosity.

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