Harvard willfully ignored concerns about antisemitism on campus, report reveals

"The truth is, we have felt helpless," a Jewish Harvard student told Voz Media due to rising antisemitism.

An explosive report revealed that Harvard University willfully ignored concerns about rising antisemitism raised not only by Jewish students, but also by an advisory group created by the university itself to address the problem.

In late October, following the Oct. 7 massacre against Jews in Israel and after several antisemitic incidents on the university's campus, then-President Claudine Gay announced the formation of an eight-member advisory group on antisemitism comprised of Harvard faculty, alumni, and a student representative. The group's purpose was to "develop a robust strategy for confronting antisemitism on campus."

The group began to raise concerns and propose measures that, according to a report published this Thursday by the Republican-led Congressional Education Committee, the University ignored.

"The report paints a picture of an overwhelmed and indecisive administration, which failed to apply university rules to protesters engaged in antisemitic behavior," reads a Wall Street Journal article on the matter.

Among the demands of the advisory group were that the university classify chants such as "From the river to the sea!" and "Intifada!" as antisemitic. According to the group, these slogans called for the elimination, through violence, of the State of Israel.

Also, the advisory group asked President Gay to expel and prohibit hooded demonstrations within the university and to prohibit professors or members of the institution's staff from pressuring students to get involved with antisemitic protests. The university did not act, and several members of the group threatened to resign as a result.

After the threat, Gay, who dismissed the possible resignations, published a statement on Nov. 9 condemning the chant "From the river to the sea!" and vowed to address the rest of the concerns, but didn't do much else.

Parallel to the development of the advisory group, pro-Hamas students and protesters continued to coordinate freely. In October, the student-run Palestine Solidarity Committee published a statement, along with several student organizations, holding "the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence."

The letter was not condemned at the time by Claudine Gay.

Without prior consultation

Although Gay created the advisory group precisely to provide support in resolving concerns about growing antisemitism, the report published by the Education Committee reveals that the president of Harvard did not consult the group before her hearing before Congress.

The advisory group was not only bothered by that, but also by Gay's failure to acknowledge at the hearing the growing antisemitism on campus, which the university had failed to stop.

After the hearing, reports The Wall Street Journal, one of the members of the advisory group, Rabbi David Wolpe, a professor at the university, resigned. In his letter, he said, "Both events on campus and the painfully inadequate testimony reinforced the idea that I cannot make the sort of difference I had hoped."

Furthermore, "because the advisory group felt some in the Harvard community and beyond were denying that antisemitic harassment on campus was a widespread problem, it asked the school to reveal the number of reports it had received related to antisemitism." The university never published the information, despite the commitment to do so.

Among the other recommendations made by the advisory group that went unheeded were "creating a zero-tolerance policy for classroom disruptions; reviewing the academic rigor of classes that the group views as having antisemitic content; increasing intellectual diversity on campus and investigating the potential influence of 'dark money' from Iran, Qatar and associates of terrorist groups on campus," reads the Wall Street Journal report.

None of this was echoed by the university authorities.

A scream into the void

A Jewish student at the university, who asked not to be named in this article, told Voz Media that he had fluid contact with the advisory group during the winter of last year. For the student, the advisory group was always receptive to the recommendations and concerns of Jewish students who were harassed on campus.

"They listened to us. They told us that President Gay had created the group so that we could bring our concerns to them so they could be resolved. At first they sounded enthusiastic and with expectations that there would be clear solutions. Little by little the tone changed. Then it was evident that they were as frustrated as we were," he told Voz Media.

"The truth is, we have felt helpless. Fortunately nothing has happened to me, but the atmosphere is tense. Many feel they have impunity to openly call for the death of people who also live on campus. Let's hope things change," added the student, referring to the departure of Claudine Gay as president of Harvard, who resigned in January of this year after several controversies.