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HomeGeneralHarvard Issues Message Condemning Antisemitic Image Circulated by Student and Faculty Groups

Harvard Issues Message Condemning Antisemitic Image Circulated by Student and Faculty Groups

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Source: The Wall Street Journal

Harvard University released a university-wide communication from its acting leader criticizing an antisemitic cartoon that circulated and then was renounced by two student groups and a faculty body.

“Promoting abhorrent and hateful antisemitic stereotypes, or otherwise participating in provocative language or distributing images that degrade individuals based on their identity, is completely contradictory to what this period requires of us,” Alan Garber, the university’s acting president, stated.

“The University will investigate the incident further to ascertain who was responsible for the publication and to determine what additional actions are necessary. The cartoon was included in a recent Instagram post seeking to draw connections between the Black and Palestinian “liberation movements.”

It depicted a hand adorned with a Star of David and a dollar sign, holding a noose around the necks of individuals resembling the Black boxer and activist Muhammad Ali and Gamal Abdel Nasser, the long-serving president of Egypt. After the image sparked outcry on social media, the three groups that shared it apologized.

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“The offensive caricature’s inclusion was an unprovoked, distressing mistake — a product of ignorance and insufficient oversight,” the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and Harvard’s African and African American Resistance Organization stated jointly. They attributed the cartoon to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a 1960s activist organization.

“We apologize for the harm caused by these images and do not endorse them in any way,” wrote the Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine, which had reposted the image. “Harvard FSJP condemns all forms of hatred and discrimination, including antisemitism.”

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Walter Johnson, a History and African American Studies professor, resigned from his role as faculty adviser to the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and from Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine. “I, like many others, was taken aback and distressed by the image,” he wrote in an email to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

“I have stepped down from both my positions. I continue to support the work of these organizations in bringing attention to the ongoing crisis in Gaza. However, my interactions with my students and colleagues remain private, and I will not comment on them.”

However, not all were satisfied with the apologies. Harvard’s Jewish Law Students Association issued a statement claiming that several other Harvard student groups had shared the cartoon.

ALSO READ: Boston Officials Arrest Man Threatening to Bomb Jewish Synagogues

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“In a period when antisemitic incidents are at a peak and Holocaust denial is spreading both in the U.S. and overseas, Harvard faculty and students must comprehend and be held accountable for the significant repercussions of proliferating insidious tropes,” the group wrote.

“Simply acknowledging that their content was ‘outdated’ or removing their post does not redress the harm they caused by lending credibility to antisemitic falsehoods,” the group added. Harvard has faced extensive scrutiny, with some critics and donors accusing the previous president of failing to denounce the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel swiftly and not adequately addressing antisemitism on campus.

In a December congressional hearing, then-president Claudine Gay was asked whether advocating for the genocide of Jews violated Harvard’s code of conduct. She replied that it could, depending on the context. Gay resigned in January after being accused of plagiarism.

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