A growing number of Jewish alumni and students are demanding that Harvard University crack down on antisemitism on campus.
Over 1,600 members of the Harvard College Jewish Alumni Association (HCJAA) have signed on to an open letter condemning anti-Israel protests at the school amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The group was founded in the wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel, in which more than 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, were brutally attacked, raped, tortured and murdered. It was the largest massacre of Jewish people in one day since the Holocaust.
“These horrific events were met with acclaim by over thirty Harvard student groups, who called the intentional slaughter of civilians ‘justified’ and claimed that Israel was ‘solely responsible.’ This deluded romanticization of violence has been matched by calls for more violence and the obliteration of the state of Israel ‘by any means necessary,’” the group’s open letter states.
The alumni blasted Harvard for remaining silent during the protests. “We never thought that, at Harvard College, we would have to argue the point that terrorism against civilians demands immediate and unequivocal condemnation,” they wrote to President Claudine Gay and Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana. “We never thought we would have to argue for recognition of our own humanity.”
Representatives for Harvard University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Harvard has faced severe criticism since 34 student organizations signed a statement issued by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups that began by blaming the “Israeli regime” for “all unfolding violence” in the hours after the unprecedented attack.
President Gay initially released a brief message days after the attack, stating that she condemns Hamas’ attacks, but she did not explicitly denounce the student groups’ controversial opinion. She has since announced the creation of an advisory counsel to combat antisemitism on Harvard’s campus.
In a letter to members of the Harvard Community on Thursday, Gay reaffirmed Harvard’s commitment to “protecting all members of our community from harassment and marginalization.”
“Let me reiterate what I and other Harvard leaders have said previously: Antisemitism has no place at Harvard. While confronting any form of hatred is daunting, the challenges we face tackling antisemitism are made all the more so by its pernicious nature and deep historical roots,” Gay wrote. “But we are committed to doing the hard work to address this scourge.”
Harvard, she said, has “started the process of examining how antisemitism manifests within our community and crafting a plan that addresses its complex history, including acknowledging this specific form of prejudice in Harvard’s past.” The school will “implement a robust program of education and training for students, faculty, and staff on antisemitism broadly and at Harvard specifically.”
Rebecca Claire Brooks, an organizer of the HCJAA, told Fox News Digital her group is the first Jewish alumni association in the history of Harvard University. They are calling on Harvard University to take urgent action to protect Jewish students on campus and curb hate speech and antisemitism.
“Around the country we are seeing the intense cyberbullying of Jewish students calling for the death of all Jews, screaming at and targeting Jewish students, death threats on Jewish students, disruptive rallies that involve incitements to violence, projections of antisemitic messages onto campus property, and at times, open hostility toward Jewish students and Israeli students by professors and faculty in the course of class,” Brooks said.
The open letter outlines several steps to address antisemitism at Harvard. The HCJAA asks the university to enforce its code of conduct against students and groups targeting Jews with statements like “Jews should be gassed” and “all Jews are colonizers deserving of death.”
Additionally, HCJAA wants to see discrimination on the basis of religion and ethnic origin included in the university’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) framework. “We want the University to adopt a definition of antisemitism that treats speech calling for the obliteration of the Jewish state as antisemitic and speech that treats all Jews as collectively guilty for any policy taken by the Jewish state as antisemitic,” Brooks said.
The group is also calling for faculty and student training on the various manifestations of antisemitism.
“We think Harvard will be reasonable and will work with us to address this existential problem in higher education,” Brooks added.
A parallel, intercollegiate pledge by Harvard alumni states that donors will only contribute one dollar to Harvard until meaningful reforms are enacted.
“Since delivering our open letter to the University, growing numbers of alumni have also spearheaded a one dollar pledge campaign as a means of voicing their disappointment and heartbreak with the University, as well as their desire to see the reforms asked for in the open letter carried into fruition,” Brooks said.
So far, 148 alumni have publicly committed to the One Dollar Pledge.
Fox News Digital’s Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.