Civil Rights Group Files Lawsuit Against Harvard for Ignoring Campus Antisemitism

Civil Rights Group Files Lawsuit Against Harvard for Ignoring Campus Antisemitism

The situation for Jewish students at Harvard worsened after Oct. 7, the lawsuit noted.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

Harvard University is being sued in US federal court by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a civil rights organization that has accused the school of long ignoring antisemitic bullying and harassment of its Jewish students.

The problem began long before Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, according to the lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which recounted several incidents involving Harvard Kennedy School professor Marshall Ganz during the 2022-2023 academic year.

Ganz allegedly refused to accept a group project submitted by Israeli students for his course, titled “Organizing: People, Power, Change,” because they described Israel as a “liberal Jewish democracy.”

He castigated the students over their premise, the Brandeis Center says, accusing them of “white supremacy” without allowing them to defend themselves.

Later, Ganz allegedly forced the Israeli students to attend “a class exercise on Palestinian solidarity” and the taking of a class photograph in which their classmates and teaching fellows “wore ‘keffiyehs’ as a symbol of Palestinian support.”

During an investigation of the incidents, which Harvard delegated to a third party firm, Ganz admitted that he believed “that the students’ description of Israel as a Jewish democracy … was similar to ‘talking about a white supremacist state.’”

The firm went on to determine that Ganz “denigrated” the Israeli students and fostered “a hostile learning environment,” conclusions which Harvard accepted but never acted on.

“The Dean of HKS [Harvard Kennedy School] obfuscated and delayed, claiming that the investigative report raised ‘complex issues of pedagogy,’” court documents shared with The Algemeiner said.

“Months later, the dean told the HKS members that any disciplinary action would remain strictly ‘confidential’ under school rules. By insisting on confidentiality and doing nothing more to take visible action, Harvard failed to acknowledge the hostile and discriminatory environment that it had created or communicate to students that such discrimination has no place at Harvard.”

The situation for Jewish students at Harvard worsened after Oct. 7, the lawsuit noted.

After the tragedy, while scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide, 31 student groups at Harvard issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack and accusing the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza.

Students stormed academic buildings chanting “globalize the intifada,” a mob followed and surrounded a Jewish graduate student, screaming “Shame! Shame! Shame!” into his ears, and the Harvard Law School student government passed a resolution that falsely accused Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

High-level university officials and faculty also engaged in questionable conduct.

In December, former Harvard president Claudine Gay told a US congressional committee that calling for a genocide of Jews living in Israel would only violate school rules “depending on the context.”

In February, Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine — a spinoff of a student group allegedly linked to terrorist organizations — shared an antisemitic cartoon on social media which showed a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David, containing a dollar sign at its center, dangling a Black man and an Arab man from a noose.

The group’s former leader, history professor Walter Johnson, later participated in a “Gaza encampment” protest in which students clamored for a boycott of Israel.

“We put Harvard on notice prior to Oct. 7 that they needed to take action, and it failed to do that. That led to all of the post-Oct. 7 incidents, including the assault of one of their graduate students, which was clearly a sign that Harvard’s willful indifference to Jewish students was causing a worsening of the problem,” Kenneth Marcus, chairman of the Brandeis Center and a former US assistant secretary of education for civil rights, told The Algemeiner during an interview.

“With the continuing harassment of Jewish student, it’s more and more clear that Harvard’s refusing to address long standing problems is leading to a deterioration. It can’t be allowed to continue.”

Kenneth added that Harvard already admitted fault when it accepted the findings of the Ganz investigation.

“This is a rare case in which a university has already conceded discriminatory conduct against Jewish students,” he continued. “Instead of taking action against him, they have treated him like a hero. This sends a message throughout the university that harassment of Jewish students will be tolerated and even celebrated by the university.”

The Brandeis Center is seeking injunctive relief “preventing defendant [Harvard] violating Title VI [of the US Civil Rights Act] going forward” and the awarding of attorneys’ fees.

The Algemeiner has reached out to Harvard for comment on this story. It will be updated accordingly.


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