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Harvard University slammed by Republican House committee for not addressing 'explosion of virulent antisemitism'

Rick Sobey, Boston Herald on

Published in Political News

BOSTON — A Republican-led House committee that has put Harvard University under the microscope is calling out university leadership for not addressing “the explosion of virulent antisemitism” on campus.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee — which grilled the Harvard, MIT and Penn leaders over their handling of antisemitism on campus — has released a new report about Harvard’s response since the Hamas terrorist attacks and the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

The committee is reporting that Harvard leaders ignored and never implemented recommendations from its Antisemitism Advisory Group — which was formed by Harvard’s then-President Claudine Gay at the end of October.

“The Committee’s report proves that former President Gay and Harvard’s leadership propped up the university’s Antisemitism Advisory Group (AAG) all for show,” said Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina.

“Not only did the AAG find that antisemitism was a major issue on campus, it offered several recommendations on how to combat the problem — none of which were ever implemented with any real vigor,” Foxx added. “This shocking revelation reveals an inner look at how dysfunctional Harvard’s administration is and the deep-seated moral rot that clouds its judgement.”

Three weeks after the Hamas terrorist attacks, Gay vowed that she was committed to tackling antisemitism on campus — telling Jewish students that she created an advisory board to combat hate following the student groups’ bombshell anti-Israel letter.

The eight-member Antisemitism Advisory Group was made up of Harvard faculty, alumni, and a student representative.

“The Committee on Education and the Workforce investigation has found that in mid-December 2023 the AAG presented Harvard’s leaders with a robust set of significant recommendations on combating antisemitism at Harvard, which were not made public and remain unimplemented,” the committee wrote in its report.

“These recommendations include ‘zero tolerance’ of classroom disruptions; protecting shared learning environments; holding student organizations accountable for adhering to University rules; countering antisemitic speech,” the committee added.

 

Harvard’s then-Provost and current Interim President Alan Garber attended and led each group meeting, according to the committee. Gay attended nine of 15 meetings.

“Unfortunately, this involvement, even if well-intentioned, did not translate to taking the actions required to address the explosion of virulent antisemitism at Harvard in a meaningful way,” the House committee wrote.

Harvard has submitted more than 30,000 pages of information to the House committee. The Cambridge university says it has continued to cooperate with the committee’s inquiry.

“It is disappointing to see selective excerpts from internal documents, shared in good faith, released in this manner, offering an incomplete and inaccurate view of Harvard’s overall efforts to combat antisemitism last fall and in the months since,” a Harvard spokesperson said in a statement.

The university is “grateful” for the Antisemitism Advisory Group’s work, the spokesperson said.

“At a critical time during the fall semester, the AAG contributed thoughtful perspectives and recommendations which helped establish the groundwork for ongoing efforts to combat antisemitism,” the Harvard spokesperson added. “Our community and campus are different today because of the actions we have taken, and continue to take, to combat hate and to promote and nurture civil dialogue and respectful engagement. Harvard has and will continue to be unequivocal — in our words and actions — that antisemitism is not and will not be tolerated on our campus.”

Harvard over the last several months said it has taken steps to strengthen security on campus. Harvard Police has increased its presence and patrols at locations and events where members of Harvard’s Jewish community gather.

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