Cornell Prof. Lectures on Ithaca Elementary School Anti-Israel Event

“Had they not bragged about it, we would have never known."

When Legal Insurrection, the conservative website run by Cornell Professor William Jacobson, law, broke news of Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi’s appearance and anti-Israel comments at an Ithaca elementary school third-grade class, it quickly made national news.

Jacobson, who frequently speaks on college campuses around the country about anti-Israel campus climates and Boycott, Divestment, and Sactions (BDS), recently spoke at Cornell about this controversy at an event sponsored by Cornellians For Israel. (Disclosure: Jacobson is the faculty advisor of The Cornell Review.)

Jacobson first wrote about the incident after he found photos of it posted online by local anti-Israel activists with captions touting the event. It appears that Ariel Gold, the local anti-Israeli activist, was the connecting force between Tamimi and Ithaca’s Beverly J. Martin Elementary School, though it is not exactly known how Tamimi gained access to the school. In short, Tamimi spoke to a third-grade class as part of a group of human rights activists for a completely one-sided presentation on the suffering of Palestinian children that is allegedly completely the fault of Israel.

Tamimi, who lives in the West Bank, is famous for provoking confrontations with Israeli soldiers hoping to get “viral moments,” Jacobson explained. The troubling part is that he is best known for using children, including his own, as means to do so, often telling them to run up to Israeli soldiers to punch or kick them in hope that the soldiers will push the children away.

A revealing photo on Tamimi’s Facebook page reads, “Oh, the generation of the coming victory, keep attacking, so that the homeland does not stay a hostage in trembling hands.”

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“He considers it the duty of children to act in resistance,” Jacobson said. At the elementary school, Tamimi even encouraged the students to become “freedom fighters for Palestine”:

Tamimi also posted on his Facebook page a photo of a stitched abdomen, writing in a caption “When Israelis arrest Palestinian CHILDREN, what is the purpose? To STEAL THEIR ORGANS.” The claim is complete nonsense and the photo was an unrelated “all-purpose” photo, like a generic stock image, Jacobson assured the crowd.


Jacobson revealed many more clips and photos to the crowd, including videos of Palestinian parents and protesters pushing children into Israeli soldiers trying to provoke a reaction that could be captured on video and used to advance their warped narrative.

Referring to Tamimi, Jacobson said, “This is someone who uses students the equivalent age for propaganda purposes,” and that even if you think everything that Israel does is wrong, “it’s an abuse of children.”

“Only one side of the equation was presented to these children,” Jacobson said, noting that the presentation was not developmentally appropriate for the age of the students. “This program, as they described it… probably had a very lasting impact on these children, and that is what was intended.”

At the presentation, there was a reading from the book Dreaming in the Wall, a book about barriers in Israel and Palestine to prevent suicide bombings, and a video of Tamimi’s daughter explaining her life in the Palestinian territories and saying that if the “occupation” ended she would be able to play soccer. Tamimi did not explain to the students that the wall in that story was constructed as a barrier to prevent suicide bombers from killing Israeli children.

This event at Beverly J. Martin Elementary school was particularly unsettling, Jacobson explained, because the students in that third grade class were mandated by law to be there and parents were not consulted about the event. Perhaps it would have been acceptable, he mentioned, if both sides of the issue were presented and the audience was older and more able to process the information with prudence.

The presenter could have also read stories about the Sbarro restaurant massacre, which killed eight children, Jacobson pointed out. The woman in the video below is Tamimi’s cousin.

Professor Jacobson stressed what is arguably most troubling about this event: that we don’t know how many more similar incidences across the country go unnoticed. “Had they not bragged about it, we would have never known,” he said.