Cornell University Instructor Cancels Class for 'Global Strike for Palestine'

English graduate student Alyiah Gonzales said Israelis should 'rot in the deepest darkest pits of hell'

Alyiah Gonzales (Cornell University English Department)
January 24, 2024

A Cornell University instructor who once said Israelis should "rot in the deepest darkest pits of hell" canceled her first class of the semester in solidarity with a "Global Strike for Palestine," an email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon shows.

Alyiah Gonzales, a Ph.D. student at Cornell who teaches an English class on "race, writing, and power," emailed her students Monday to say she was "canceling class in solidarity with collective calls for a Global Strike for Palestine," according to a screenshot of the message. Gonzales in her email said she "mourn[s] the fact that all universities in Gaza have been destroyed or demolished by Israeli military forces." In lieu of class, she asked her students to write an essay on "the relationship between writing, power, and systems of oppression."

Gonzales's message comes as Cornell and other Ivy League institutions grapple with a federal investigation into anti-Semitic incidents on campus. In late October, a Cornell junior was arrested and charged with posting anti-Semitic threats online—in one message, the student allegedly said he would "bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you pig Jews." Cornell history professor Russell Rickford, meanwhile, praised Hamas's Oct. 7 attack on Israel during a campus rally, calling it "exhilarating" and "energizing."

While Rickford went on leave after a video of his comments surfaced, it's unclear whether Gonzales will do the same. A Cornell spokeswoman did not return a request for comment on whether the school plans to discipline Gonzales, instead pointing the Free Beacon to a Tuesday afternoon statement from provost Michael Kotlikoff. That statement, which was sent to Cornell faculty and instructors, did not mention Gonzales by name but did refer to "canceling classes as a political call to action."

"Faculty and instructors should conduct their classes and schedule them in a way that is academically appropriate," Kotlikoff said in his statement. "Canceling classes as a political call to action, or using one's role in instruction to promote a personal or political belief, diminishes our role as educators."

Gonzales, who did not return a request for comment, has long disparaged the Jewish state and expressed support for Hamas.

In one Instagram post reviewed by the Free Beacon, the Cornell instructor posted a message "reminding us that decolonization is not abstract" and is instead "violent." In another post, Gonzales shared an image of a Hamas paraglider alongside the message, "Freedom has only ever been achieved through resistance. Stand with the Palestinian resistance."

Gonzales has also disparaged Israelis and others who she says are "complicit in genocide." "Me, personally, I think the fuck ass settler state of Israel and all those complicit in genocide and occupation can rot in the deepest darkest pits of hell," she wrote in an Instagram post. Gonzales regularly calls on her followers to "resist."

"If you've been silent and wallowing in ignorance … wake up and stand tf up," Gonzales posted in November. "I will forever stand in solidarity with the Palestinian peoples—land back means LAND BACK, period. … WHERE IS YOUR RAGE? RESIST. RESIST. RESIST."

Gonzales has a bachelor's degree from California Polytechnic University, according to her Cornell bio, which says she is "dedicated to the queer, coalitional, and transformative possibilities of literature written by, for, and about Black womxn." Her research areas include "Black feminism," "Black womxn's literature," "queer theory," and "intersectionality studies."

Gonzales is also a fantasy writer, having published a book titled, Faeblood Unbroken, a fantasy romance novel in which "vampires and fae collide" in a "sapphic slowburn." Gonzales's author bio describes the Cornell instructor as "an unhinged zillenial who spends most of their time escaping into fantasy through both reading and writing."

"Iced Coffees, mean cats, and colorful hair make up the bulk of Alyiah's life," the bio says.