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5 Members of Harvard’s Antisemitism Advisory Group Threatened to Resign, House Committee Says | News

The House Education and Workforce Committee released a 42-page report Thursday morning that details an internal battle between former Harvard President Claudine Gay and the advisory group on anti-Semitism that it created following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

The report, released as part of the committee’s investigation of Harvard, reveals that five of the eight members of the advisory group threatened to resign en masse less than 10 days after Gay announced the group’s formation.

“The goals and steps outlined in the document are meaningful recommendations that would have had a substantial impact on the problem of anti-Semitism at Harvard if implemented,” the report said. “Unfortunately, Harvard leaders did not follow the road map laid out for them by their own chosen experts.”

Harvard spokesman Jason A. Newton criticized the committee’s report as “an incomplete and inaccurate view of Harvard’s overall efforts to combat anti-Semitism last fall and in the months since.”

“It is disappointing to see selective excerpts of internal documents, shared in good faith, released in this manner,” Newton wrote. “Harvard has demonstrated its focus, commitment, and attention to combating anti-Semitism, and these efforts are reflected in the numerous and voluminous submissions to the committee. »

The report relied largely on submissions to the University committee, which included previously unpublished recommendations from Gay’s advisory group, and a transcribed interview with group member Dara Horn ’99.

While the committee’s report comes more than four months after Gay’s resignation, the university’s interim president, Alan M. Garber ’76, emerged relatively unscathed. While Horn expressed frustration with the formation of Garber’s task forces to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias, the committee’s report focused almost entirely on Gay and his response to recommendations of the advisory group.

Gay did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

The resignation notice, sent on November 5, included a series of ultimatums from the five members that demanded that Gay publicly condemn certain slogans chanted by pro-Palestinian student protesters, ban masked protests on campus and launch a confidential investigation into Harvard Medical Center. The school’s dean for allegedly failing to confront anti-Semitism at an event he attended.

The threat, alongside the series of demands, prompted Gay and Penny S. Pritzker ’81, Senior Fellow of the Harvard Corporation, to call an emergency meeting with the advisory group on November 6, during which Gay sought to persuade the group not to resign en masse.

“The areas of common ground came with an ultimatum that, if interpreted literally, gives me 24 hours and puts me and the university in a terrible position,” Gay told the group, according to a transcript of the meeting published in the committee’s journal. report.

“To serve is to be useful, and you try to be useful; resigning en masse if you don’t get these things within 48 hours would be explosive and make things even more volatile and dangerous,” she added.

Gay, however, made clear concessions to the group after the emergency meeting.

Just three days after the emergency meeting, Gay sent a university-wide email explicitly condemning the use of the phrase “from the river to the sea” by pro-Palestinian protesters and announcing that the he university would implement training and education on anti-Semitism for Harvard affiliates.

Group members were also frustrated that the scope of their responsibilities remained vague, weeks after the task force was formed. At the Nov. 6 meeting, Gay told the group she apologized for “not giving you the time you deserved” and for “giving” the advisory group the roles “before they are defined, staffed and supported,” according to meeting minutes.

Horn said the advisory group quickly began hearing from many Jewish students reporting instances of anti-Semitism, but it lacked clear direction from Gay and the administration.

The advisory group reported that there were Jewish students who said they were afraid to eat in Harvard dining halls, that they were followed home and harassed, and that at least one was spat on because that he was wearing a yarmulke.

Some of the report’s harshest criticism of the University stems from Harvard administrators’ failure to implement the advisory group’s recommendations.

Newton wrote that “the Harvard community and campus are different today because of the steps we have taken and continue to take to combat hate and to promote and nurture civil dialogue and respectful engagement.”

“Harvard has been and will continue to be unequivocal – in our words and actions – that anti-Semitism is not and will not be tolerated on our campus,” he added.

The advisory group’s recommendations included re-evaluating the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging and “investigating the potential influence of ‘dark money’ from Iran, Qatar and associates of terrorist groups on campus.

One member of the advisory group expressed concern that the American Muslims for Palestine organization – which they called an entity “linked to terrorist financing” – funded the “PalTrek” that brought Harvard affiliates to visited the West Bank and “was involved” in the Arab Conference at Harvard in April.

Garber said the Office of General Counsel would review the funding, and OGC later reported that “no issues were identified.”

The commission did not specify how Congress would proceed with its investigation into anti-Semitism at Harvard and other college campuses, but the report said the commission is not yet done with Harvard.

“The committee will continue to investigate activities occurring on the Harvard campus and at other universities, including the responses of university administrations to recent illegal encampments on campus,” the committee wrote.

—Editor Emma H. ​​Haidar can be reached at Follow her on @HaidarEmma.

—Editor Cam E. Kettles can be reached at Follow her on @cam_kettles or on the @camkettles discussions.

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