CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fourth paragraph, second sentence quote should be attributed to Adrian Ashkenazy (instead of Steve Alperin).
The updated release reads:
HARVARD ALUMNI MOBILIZE TO COMBAT UNCHECKED ANTISEMITISM ON CAMPUS
Announces Launch of the Harvard College Jewish Alumni Association
For the first time in Harvard’s history, over twelve hundred Jewish alumni of Harvard College and the University, as well as their non-Jewish allies have organized a movement in response to rampant antisemitism on the Harvard campus. Founders of the Harvard College Jewish Alumni Association (HCJAA) announced its formation earlier today to represent the voice of Jewish alumni who are concerned about their alma mater and the prevalence of a toxic culture on campus. By some estimates, there are over 10,000 Jewish alumni of Harvard College, and the HCJAA will make a commitment to represent their voices, to protect current Jewish students from antisemitic bullying, and to hold the University to its stated democratic and liberal values.
When 1400 Israelis were brutally massacred by Hamas terrorists on October 7th, student groups at Harvard signed letters calling the slaughter of civilians justified and saying that Israel was “entirely responsible.” The University remained silent during this time, choosing not to condemn swiftly and unequivocally the worst loss of innocent Jewish life since the Holocaust.
Jewish and non-Jewish alumni were outraged. With broad support within days, the HCJAA is rapidly growing as concerned Jewish and non-Jewish alumni mobilize to assist its efforts. A diverse, intergenerational cross-section of alumni—ranging from notable elected officials, to artists, to scientists—have signed an open letter to President Gay and Dean Khurana asking for a meeting and for concrete actions to curb antisemitism on campus. “The HCJAA is calling for the University to enforce its own codes of conduct to curb verbal and physical assaults on Jewish students, and to investigate the roots of virulent antisemitism on the Harvard Campus,” said Eric Fleiss AB ’97, MBA ’03, co-founder of the HCJAA. “President Gay’s recent address at Hillel was well received, as was her newly formed council, because more work is needed.” The HCJAA is working to obtain official recognition from the University.
Alums are concerned about hypocrisy on campus. “Harvard is promoting a blatant and unconscionable double-standard in enforcing its own policies concerning campus speech,” said Adrian Ashkenazy, A.B. 1996. “Once the University decides to put its thumb on the scale, it cannot restrict hateful speech except for hate speech toward Jews. If students were promoting, condoning, or justifying violence against the women, children or elderly of any other ethnic group, Harvard would have expelled them. But when students champion or excuse violence against Jewish civilians, the University suddenly decides that the First Amendment is sacrosanct.”
The HCJAA’s letter was delivered to the Administration on October 30th and the organization awaits a response.
Various Jewish alumni are coordinating a separate action as well. These alumni are calling on all Harvard alumni concerned about campus antisemitism to register their disappointment directly with the University by committing to an annual pledge of $1 until the requested reforms are made. Alumni can visit the site, onedollarpledge.com/harvard, to commit to donating only a dollar to Harvard. The HCJAA envisions that the onedollarpledge website will be a platform from which alumni from other universities can launch similar pledge campaigns for their own schools.
“What’s been happening on campus is terrifying, but it began even before this flare-up of antisemitic activity,” commented Sabrina Goldfischer A.B. 2023. “I wrote my senior thesis, The Death of Discourse: Antisemitism at Harvard College, about the systemic normalization of misinformation about Jewish people and the state of Israel on campus. This problem has been brewing at Harvard for a long time.”
Students for Justice in Palestine groups have expressly adopted bullying tactics in their so-called “toolkit,” including what they call “bird-dogging”—which is identifying where Jewish students are on campus, cornering and screaming at them. In public protests around the country and on social media, SJP groups have been expressly calling for the death of all Jews, with signs such as “put the Jews in the ovens” and slogans like “take out the trash” or “keep the planet clean” with Stars of David in trash cans. At Tulane University, a Jewish student was beaten over the head with a flagpole by a SJP activist wearing a ski mask. Already concerned about the hateful discourse that has overtaken the Harvard campus, alumni are terrified that violence toward Harvard’s Jewish students may flow from the charged environment.
Alums are appalled by this devolution in the campus culture. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Peter Bronstein, A.B. 1965. “The University has accomplished twin moral failures: allowing the widespread glorification of Hamas terrorism by its students and abandoning its responsibility to teach students how to express their ideas without resorting to violent discourse.”
Some Harvard alumni are the children of Holocaust survivors. “I’m part of this movement for my father, who survived the Holocaust,” according to co-founder of the HCJAA, Adrian Ashkenazy, A.B. 1996. “Harvard takes pride in being seen as a moral leader in the world, and I’m glad President Gay has recently spoken at Hillel about the problem of antisemitism. We hope to work with her and her new advisory council to translate these statements into actions.”
“What all of this brings to mind is an ancient Hebrew proverb passed through the generations,” said Rebecca Claire Brooks, A.B. 2017, chair of the HCJAA litigation group. “We hope for the best. We expect the worst. And we excel at advocacy.”
For more information, visit harvardjewishalumni.org.