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Jewish Students Sue Harvard University Over Charges of Antisemitism

Harvard University is being sued by a group of Jewish students who claim the institution ‘has become a bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment.’

A crowd of students in front of white pillars with red flags hanging down with the Harvard emblem on them
A crowd of students in front of white pillars with red flags hanging down with the Harvard emblem on them. Image: Shutterstock

Harvard University is being sued by a group of Jewish students who claim the institution ‘has become a bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment.’

The legal complaint was filed on Wednesday night and made by a student at the Harvard Divinity School and members of Students Against Antisemitism. It says Jewish students have been ‘subjected to a severe and pervasive antisemitic hostile educational environment’ that has gotten worse in the wake of October 7th.

‘hundreds of ‘pro-Hamas’ students have held marches on campus where they openly shouted ‘vile antisemitic slogans and called for death to Jews and Israel.’

Other students have filed similar lawsuits against other universities, such as the University of Pennsylvania and New York University.

One of the students posted about the filing on X.

The lawsuit alleges antisemitism has increased at the university in the wake of the terrorist attack by Hamas in Israel on 7th October and that the university has not only failed to stop this but has enabled it to continue.

What happened on October 7th?

After Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th, Israel retaliated by bombing Gaza, a response that is ongoing and has killed thousands of Palestinians. There have been many protests across the world, and South Africa has taken Israel to the International Court of Justice for allegations of committing genocide against the people of Palestine.

Other world leaders such as President Joe Biden, support Israel and have called protests against Israel inherently antisemitic.

What does the lawsuit say?

According to the lawsuit, ‘hundreds of ‘pro-Hamas’ students have held marches on campus where they openly shouted ‘vile antisemitic slogans and called for death to Jews and Israel.’ Jewish students have also been allegedly attacked on social media and, in some cases, in person.

The complaint alleges that Harvard is ‘selectively enforcing’ its discrimination policies to prevent Jewish students from being protected from harassment. It also says the university hired professors who have included antisemitic material in their curriculum and ‘dismissed and intimidated’ students who object to this.

Institutions under fire

The lawsuit also argues that this issue exists at the top of the food chain after ex-President Claudine Gay received unanimous support from the university’s governing body after she testified before Congress.

During this testimony, she said that antisemitic comments did not necessarily violate Harvard’s policies, depending on the context of them.

Gay received backlash from this and had her academic record scrutinized, causing her to resign after allegations of plagiarism. Announcing her resignation in a letter to the university, Gay said, ‘It has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor,’ and that she had been subjected to personal and racist threats.

The President of the University of Pennsylvania has also since resigned after she received similar pressure and scrutiny following she also testified to Congress.

The lawsuit claims that Harvard has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that no organization that receives public funding should use this money to enable discrimination ‘on the basis of race, color, or national origin’ and is seeking monetary damages and an injunction prevent further violations of this act. Harvard University is yet to respond to the lawsuit.

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