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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Jewish students file lawsuit against Harvard for widespread antisemitism


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Harvard University⁤ has ​been sued by Jewish‌ students who accused it ‌of⁢ allowing its campus ‌to​ become a⁤ bastion of rampant antisemitism.

In a complaint filed on‌ Wednesday night, six students accused Harvard of selectively enforcing its anti-discrimination policies to avoid protecting Jewish students from harassment, ignoring their pleas for protection, and hiring professors who support anti-Jewish violence and spread antisemitic propaganda.

“Based on its track record, it is inconceivable ‍that⁣ Harvard would allow⁢ any group other than Jews to be targeted for similar abuse or that ⁢it would permit, without response, students and professors to ⁣call for the annihilation of any ‌country ‍other than Israel,” the complaint said.

Harvard, the complaint said, treats⁤ Jews as “unworthy ‌of the respect⁤ and protection it affords other groups.”

The students are seeking an injunction to stop Harvard’s‌ alleged violations of Title VI of the Civil‌ Rights Act of 1964, ⁣which bars‌ federal funds recipients from allowing discrimination based on race, religion and national origin.

They sued the Ivy League school eight ⁢days after ​Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned, ​under ​fire for her handling of antisemitism in the wake⁣ of Hamas’ Oct. 7, 2023, attack on Israel. She also faced plagiarism allegations.

Harvard declined on Thursday to ‌comment on the lawsuit, which‍ was filed in Boston federal court.

The plaintiffs include Alexander Kestenbaum, who is a student at⁢ Harvard Divinity School; five unnamed students at‌ Harvard’s law ⁢and public health ⁣schools, and the nonprofit Students Against Antisemitism.

Other schools that have faced similar lawsuits include⁢ New York University, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania.

Academic institutions​ around ‍the world have been rocked⁢ by⁣ disputes over free speech and the right ⁤to protest ‍since the Israel-Hamas war broke out in Gaza.

In November, the U.S. Department of Education opened a probe⁤ into Harvard’s handling of​ antisemitism on campus, after starting‍ probes at several other⁤ schools.

A House of Representatives panel is also‍ examining Harvard’s handling of antisemitism, demanding a slew of materials from interim President Alan Garber and Harvard ⁤Corp Senior ⁣Fellow Penny Pritzker.


According to the complaint, antisemitism is not new at ⁤Harvard, which⁢ was‌ founded in 1636, but has swelled since Hamas’ attack.

More than 30 student groups at the school signed a petition the day after the ⁢attack, ​blaming Israel.

The plaintiffs⁣ said Harvard‍ took a day to ‌respond, offering “platitudes” but neither condemnation of the petition or Hamas, nor support for Jewish students.

But⁤ after a billboard truck ⁤drove around campus and​ identified members of groups backing the petition, Harvard responded forcefully, offering to protect those students from​ the “repugnant assault on our community,” the ⁢complaint said.

Harvard’s “double standards” are‌ unjustified, and it is no defense ⁣to sit ⁢idly and allow escalating‍ “Jew-bashing” so people could express themselves freely, the‌ complaint said.

It said two of the law students, both “visibly Jewish” based on their clothing, said they have been regularly‌ stopped and targeted in the law school’s student lounge, which Harvard has let anti-Jewish protesters take over and chant slogans such as “glory to⁢ the martyrs.”

The complaint said Harvard’s bias even extends to admissions, including an alleged 60% decline in the number​ of Jewish students, mirroring quotas the school had a century ago.

“Harvard, America’s leading university, has ​become a bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment,” the complaint said.

The⁤ lawsuit seeks compensatory and‌ punitive damages, and requirements that Harvard suspend or expel students who engage in antisemitism, and return donations​ conditioned on hiring antisemitic professors or promoting an antisemitic curriculum.

“It is clear that Harvard ‍will not correct its deep-seated⁣ antisemitism problem voluntarily,” said the students’ lawyer ‍Marc Kasowitz, whose firm also filed the NYU and Penn lawsuits.

Gay resigned after⁣ being slow to condemn Hamas’ attack, and botching her Dec. 5 congressional testimony by failing to definitively say ‍that calling for the genocide of Jews violated Harvard’s code of conduct.

Penn’s ⁤president also resigned after​ offering similar testimony at the same hearing.

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  1. Jewish students deserve a safe and inclusive learning environment. Harvard must address the issue of anti-Semitism and take strong actions to prevent discrimination on campus. #SupportJewishStudents

  2. This lawsuit against Harvard highlights the importance of fostering a respectful and inclusive atmosphere for all students. Discrimination of any kind should not be tolerated in educational institutions.


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