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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Jewish students filed law suit against Harvard

The lawsuit also alleges that the university has hired professors who support anti-Jewish violence and disseminate antisemitic propaganda.

Harvard University is grappling with a lawsuit filed by Jewish students who assert that the prestigious institution has allowed a surge in antisemitism to permeate its campus. Filed on a Wednesday night, the complaint involves six students accusing Harvard of implementing its anti-discrimination policies selectively, thereby failing to shield Jewish students from harassment.

The lawsuit also alleges that the university has hired professors who support anti-Jewish violence and disseminate antisemitic propaganda. The plaintiffs, including Alexander Kestenbaum from Harvard Divinity School, five unnamed students from Harvard’s law and public health schools, and the nonprofit organization Students Against Antisemitism, are seeking an injunction to halt what they perceive as Harvard’s violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act prohibits recipients of federal funds from allowing discrimination based on race, religion, and national origin.

The complaint suggests that Harvard, based on its track record, treats Jews as “unworthy of the respect and protection it affords other groups.” It contends that the university would not permit any group other than Jews to be subjected to similar abuse or allow students and professors to call for the annihilation of any country other than Israel without a robust response.

Backdrop to Gaza war

The backdrop to this legal action is the fallout from the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel, which has triggered similar lawsuits against other educational institutions, including New York University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania. Harvard’s handling of antisemitism on campus has drawn the attention of the U.S. Department of Education, which initiated an investigation, and a House of Representatives panel that is scrutinizing the university’s response to antisemitism.

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The lawsuit comes in the wake of the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay, who faced criticism for her handling of antisemitism on campus and allegations of plagiarism. The lawsuit alleges that Harvard has treated Jewish students unfairly, prompting the students to seek legal recourse to address what they perceive as a deep-seated antisemitism problem within the university. Harvard has refrained from commenting on the lawsuit, which is now pending in a Boston federal court.