A Harvard alum called on the U.S. Department of Education to expand its probe of the university to include the Ivy League school’s “laissez-faire attitude” toward protesters’ “undisguised calls for the murder of Jews.”
The new allegations are based on concerns over Harvard’s lack of response to anti-Israel demonstrators who appeared to call for violence against Jews in Israel just a day after the DOE announced their investigation.
In a letter addressed to OCR’s Boston chief attorney Kristi R. Harris on Saturday, the alum thanked Harris for opening the investigation but called for its expansion.
“Harvard Hillel has reported that on November 29—a day after OCR notified me (and, presumably, Harvard) that it had opened a Title VI investigation—Harvard College students ‘had classes disrupted by a coordinated protest using bullhorns to blast abhorrent antisemitic calls to “globalize the intifada,” and demands for the elimination of the Jewish state “from the river to the sea,”‘” the letter says, citing an Instagram post by Harvard Hillel.
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“Both are undisguised calls for the murder of Jews and Israelis,” the alum added.
“During the Second Intifada, for example, Palestinian terrorists murdered over 1,000 Jews and Israelis, including through suicide-bomb attacks on buses and restaurants,” the alum explained. “And, as the House of Representatives recently acknowledged in a bipartisan resolution, ‘the phrase “from the river to the sea” … is widely recognized as a genocidal call to violence to destroy the state of Israel and its people to replace it with a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.’”
“To date, there has been no indication that Harvard has taken any action in response to these threats against Jews and Israelis,” the letter says. “And it is inconceivable that Harvard would take such a laissez-faire attitude if similar threats were leveled against any other minority group on campus.”
In October, Harvard University President Claudine Gay acknowledged that “antisemitism” has a “continuing presence” at Harvard, and the “university has done too little to confront” it.
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“I appreciate President Gay’s candid admission that Harvard has been, and remains, in violation of Title VI,” the letter continues. “Though President Gay represented that she is ‘committed to tackling this pernicious hatred with the urgency it demands,’ her words so far have not been met with action. It is now time for the Department of Education to intervene.”
Gay is scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday, at a hearing titled, “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism.”
In fiscal year 2023, Harvard reported that it received $676 million in federal funding.
“The Department has an obligation to ensure that these ‘public dollars, drawn from the tax contributions of all citizens, do not serve to finance the evil of private prejudice,’” the letter says. “Please confirm that the Office for Civil Rights will expand its investigation to include Harvard’s latest failure to abide by Title VI.”
The alum’s initial complaint alleged that Harvard discriminated against students based on national origin by failing to appropriately respond to harassment against Jewish and Israeli students, including when a first-year Israeli student at Harvard Business School was reportedly physically assaulted and verbally berated by pro-Palestinian protesters amid a “die in” demonstration on campus in reaction to Israel’s retaliatory strikes in the Gaza Strip.
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In a letter sent Tuesday, Harris notified the alum that OCR was opening an investigation into whether Harvard “failed to respond to alleged harassment of students based on their national origin (shared Jewish ancestry and/or Israeli) in a manner consistent with the requirements of Title VI.”
The alum closed Saturday’s letter by asserting a “deep appreciation for the Department’s commitment to advancing and enforcing the promise of our Nation’s civil-rights laws.”