Harvard’s Antisemitism and Anti-Muslim Task Forces Find Climate of Bias

Harvard University’s task forces on antisemitism and anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias released preliminary reports on Wednesday, each finding a climate of bias and harassment on campus. Both groups urged the university to take steps to address the issues.

The antisemitism task force found that the situation for Israeli students on campus was “dire,” citing reports of teaching fellows discriminating against or harassing students because they were Israeli or pro-Israel. It added that there was an ideological “litmus test” for extracurricular activities that made it impossible for some students to participate.

The task force called for a variety of measures, such as anti-harassment training for all students, discussions of antisemitism and anti-Israeli bias, and accommodations for those who observe Jewish holidays, to improve the quality of life for Jewish students on campus.

On the other hand, the investigation into anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias on campus found that the freedom of expression of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian students had been broadly suppressed, leaving them in “a state of uncertainty, abandonment, threat and isolation” and in “a pervasive climate of intolerance.” It said that many students felt the words “Palestine” and “Palestinian” had become taboo on campus.

Among other recommendations, the report called on the school to appoint a visiting professor in Palestinian studies, and in the long run, recruit tenure-track faculty members to expand the school’s curriculum related to Palestinian studies. It also recommended that the university clarify policies around bullying and bias.

The reports come after a school year of growing concerns about antisemitism and Islamophobia at Harvard and other universities across the country. Republican lawmakers and donors have been especially vocal in pressuring Harvard to address antisemitism on its campus since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel and the war in Gaza.

“We must strengthen our ties with a sustained commitment to engaging each other with tact, decency and compassion,” Alan Garber, Harvard’s interim president, wrote in an email to the Harvard community. “Our learning cannot be limited to purely academic pursuits if we hope to fulfill our responsibilities to one another and to the institution that is our intellectual home.”

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