100 Harvard faculty cry foul at university’s ‘Combating Antisemitism’ campaign

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More than 100 Harvard University faculty members have signed an open letter responding to the school’s new “Combating Antisemitism” campaign.

The November 13 letter was addressed to Harvard University President Claudine Gray and questioned the school’s commitment to free speech and expression.

The faculty said they were “surprised” by the pressure from donors, alumni and members of the campus community to “silence” faculty, students and staff who criticize Israel’s actions in the the face of Hamas.

“It is important to acknowledge that the tone and form of much of the criticism you have received is supportive as well as the outright racism of some of it,” the letter said. very much with your message on November 9th entitled ‘Fighting antisemitism’.


Harvard faculty on antisemitism

More than 100 Harvard University faculty wrote a letter responding to the school’s campaign ‘Combating Antisemitism’. (Simon Simard/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Medium)

The faculty also suggested that the university’s commitment to open communication has been replaced by an “educational model” where a new committee has now deemed inappropriate the meaning of words and phrases, which once merited explanation.

While acknowledging that there should be limits to “what is talkable” (ie, Holocaust denial, homophobia, and sexism), the faculty emphasized the importance of open discussion of the actions of states such as Israel.

“It is understandable that in the shadow of the history of the twentieth century in Europe, Palestine, and Israel, as well as the attacks on October 7 and the ongoing tragedy in Gaza, that you would want to remind members of the community we have their words. mean,” the letter continued.

“And yet, at a time when a member of the University has stood in the yard and accused students of supporting terrorism, your interpretation of the limits of appropriate expression on our campus is dangerous unilateral.”

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Supporters of Palestinians at Harvard University

Palestinian supporters gather at Harvard University to show their support for Palestinians in Gaza during a rally in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14, 2023. (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

The faculty members who signed the letter also defended the use of the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine must be free,” saying that the chant has “a long and complicated history.

They also suggested that declaring the term to necessarily mean “removal” or even “extermination of Jews” is “unwise” in terms of university policy and “ill-judged as an act of moral leadership.”

The letter concluded with four steps the university should take in the face of the ongoing conflict.

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People protesting for Palestinians

Harvard University has pushed back on antisemitism on campus over the past few weeks. (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

These steps include resisting calls to suspend the Palestine Solidarity Committee, ordering the President’s Advisory Group on Antisemitism to clearly explain antisemitism to the community, reaffirming the commitment of the school regarding freedom of thought and expression, and creating an advisory group on Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Arab racism.

Harvard University did not return Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

Last week, Gay issued a statement condemning antisemitism and called the pro-Palestinian rally cry “from the river to the sea” as crossing the line.

“Our community must understand that expressions such as ‘from the river to the sea’ have a special historical meaning which for many people means the extermination of Jews from Israel and evokes both pain and fear on the part of -within our Jewish community. and phrases that sound like a curse,” wrote Gay.

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At the end of October, the university also announced that an advisory council would be formed, which includes faculty, staff, alumni, and religious leaders from the Jewish community.

Gay said the committee will begin the “vital work of eradicating antisemitism from our community.”

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

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