100 Harvard faculty cry foul at university’s ‘Combating Antisemitism’ initiative

Over 100 Harvard University faculty members have signed an open letter responding to the school’s new “Combating Antisemitism” initiative.

The November 13 letter was addressed to Harvard University President Claudine Gray and questioned the school’s commitment to free speech and expression.

The faculty said they were “astonished” by pressure from donors, alumni and members of the campus community to “silence” faculty, students and staff critical of actions undertaken by Israel against Hamas.

“It is important to acknowledge the patronizing tone and format of much of the criticism you have received as well as the outright racism contained in some of it,” the letter stated. “We were nevertheless profoundly dismayed by your November 9 message entitled ‘Combating Antisemitism.'”

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The faculty also suggested that the university’s commitment to open dialogue has been replaced by a “model of education” where the meaning of terms and phrases, once eligible for interpretation, have now been deemed unacceptable by a new committee.

Though they acknowledged that there should be limits to “what is speakable” (i.e., Holocaust denial, homophobia, and sexism), the faculty stressed the importance of open debate on the actions of states such as Israel.

“It is understandable that in the shadow of the twentieth-century history of Europe, Palestine, and Israel, as well as the attacks of October 7 and the ongoing catastrophe in Gaza, you would want to remind members of our community that their words have meaning,” the letter continued.

“And yet, at a moment when an affiliate of the University has with apparent impunity stood in the yard and accused students of supporting terrorism, your delineation of the limits of acceptable expression on our campus is dangerously one-sided.”

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Faculty members who signed the letter also defended the use of the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine must be free,” claiming the chant has a “long and complicated history.”

They also suggested that singling the term out as necessarily implying “removalism” or even the “elimination” of Jews is “imprudent” as it pertains to university policy and “badly misjudged as an act of moral leadership.”

The letter concluded with four steps the university should take in the face of the ongoing conflict.

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These steps include resisting calls to suspend the Palestine Solidarity Committee, directing the President’s Advisory Group on Antisemitism to define antisemitism to the community explicitly, affirming the school’s commitment to freedom of thought and expression, and creating an advisory group on Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Arab racism.

Harvard University did not return Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

Last week, Gay released a statement condemning antisemitism and called out the pro-Palestinian rallying cry “from the river to the sea” as crossing the line.

“Our community must understand that phrases such as ‘from the river to the sea’ bear specific historical meanings that to a great many people imply the eradication of Jews from Israel and engender both pain and existential fears within our Jewish community. I condemn this phrase and any similarly hurtful phrases,” Gay wrote.

In late October, the university also announced the creation of an advisory council, which includes faculty, staff, alumni, and religious leaders from the Jewish community.

Gay said the committee will begin the “vital work of eradicating antisemitism from our community.”

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report. 

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