August 17, 2019

Anti-Semitism No Stranger to Harvard

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Harvard University’s current generation of students apparently is being taught that history is a convenient fiction that can be forgotten, manipulated or rewritten at the expense of Jews. The operative word of the version of history is “woke” and is being weaponized against perceived enemies, including the Jewish state of Israel.

Just recently, Harvard’s student government gave over $2,000 to the “Palestinian Solidarity Committee” and its “Israeli Apartheid Week” meant to “raise awareness of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.” The money came from a grant for an Open Harvard College that’s supposed to fund the University’s “compelling interests” like fighting racism. Jewish students protested fearing that the grant might be used to provide a free ride to campus for BDS instigator Omar Barghouti who supports “the euthanasia of Zionism”. Barghouti had previously received a Gandhi Peace prize at Yale.

Last year, Harvard’s Israel Apartheid Week contribution to improved race relations on campus was achieved by blanketing a dormitory with mock detention notices targeting Jewish students for guilt by association with the mistreatment of “Palestinians in Israel-Palestine.” The false notice was “formally cosigned” by Harvard Concilio Latino, the Harvard Islamic Society, and the Harvard Black Students Association. The Harvard Administration accepted a faux apology.

Also in 2018, CAIR founder Nihad Awad was awarded as an inspirer of “a deeper engagement with critical social issues on campus and in the wider community.” Past recipients included the Children’s Defense Fund’s founder Marian Wright Edelman. Beneath a veneer of interfaith good works, Awad is a supporter of terrorist Hamas that uses the UNRWA schools to brainwash new generations of violent Jew-haters.

Bringing anti-Semitism into the classroom, Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies imported Ali Akbar Alikhani as a visiting professor from the University of Tehran. In a major paper he authored titled “The Conceptual Characteristics of Post-Zionism,”, Alikhani suggests that criticisms of the modern Israeli state are immaterial given the “historical violence of Zionism. Israel is a country that from its inception was based on force, coercion and oppression of others.”

Until the publicity became too intense in 2016, Harvard President Drew Faust Gilpin stonewalled Jewish students requesting a meeting about her administration’s infrastructure of student clubs dedicated to demonizing Israel. Harvard law student and BDS leader Husam El-Coolaq verbally assaulted former Israeli Minister Tzipi Livni with the question: “How is it that you [ Israelis] are so smelly?”

In 2007, Gilpin, a descendant of New England theologian Jonathan Edwards, succeeded Lawrence Summers as Harvard’s President. Summers was forced out partly for lecturing the Harvard faculty in 2002 about the global upsurge of anti-Semitism. He stated that his gravest concern was that “at Harvard and . . . universities across the country” divestment campaigns were seeking Israel’s destruction.

Those running Harvard’s soaring ivory tower … should take action to protect Jewish … students from today’s bullying wrapped in academic ivy.

As Stephen H. Norwood’s book, The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower (2009) powerfully documents, Harvard’s ugly history of anti-Semitism dates back to 1922 when President A. Lawrence Lowell proposed a “Jewish quota” that was ultimately implemented by means of a euphemistic “geographic diversity” mechanism whose real purpose was to keep out brilliant, but unwanted Boston and New York Jews. In the 1930s, Lowell’s successor, President James B. Conant, talked up meritocracy, but in practice discriminated against Jews in both student admissions and faculty hiring.

In 1933, Harvard’s president refused to provide haven to refugee Jewish professors. On the other hand, in 1934, Harvard rolled out the red carpet for Ernst (Putzi) Hanfstaegl (Class of ‘09), Hitler’s press chief, who had bragged to an American diplomat that the Nazis would destroy “the vampire sucking German blood” by assigning a storm trooper to deal with each of Germany’s 600,000 Jews. The student paper, The Crimson, which years later published a Holocaust Denial ad, insisted that Hanfstaegl be granted an honorary degree. Before, during, and after the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Harvard students and administrators made a point of using German passenger liners to visit the Third Reich where students participated in study abroad programs at Nazified universities like Heidelberg and Goettingen. Not until after Kristallnacht did the Harvard community engage in noteworthy protests against Hitlerite outrages. Yet James B. Conant, president of Harvard, during his service in the 1950s as U.S. High Commissioner for Germany was in the words of Norwood, “ significantly involved in paroling vast numbers of Nazi war criminals, including those engaged in the most heinous atrocities.”

Harvard set a pattern, not only for Ivy League schools, but nationally for institutions of higher learning including Catholic schools and Women’s colleges.

Today, on some of America’s most prestigious campuses the admirable doctrine of “academic freedom” is being abused to indoctrinate students with “anti-Zionist,” anti-Semitic propaganda demonizing the Jewish state and encouraging campus activists to silence those who would speak up for Israel.

Those manning Harvard’s soaring ivory tower should be ashamed for both its past and present sins and take action to protect Jewish-dare we utter-Zionist-students from today’s bullying wrapped in academic ivy.


Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Dr. Harold Brackman is a historian who is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center