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Business News/ News / Harvard Condemns Antisemitic Image Circulated by Student and Faculty Groups
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Harvard Condemns Antisemitic Image Circulated by Student and Faculty Groups

wsj

Three organizations apologize for the social-media post. Harvard says it is reviewing the matter.

Harvard’s interim president wrote that the university will review the situation ‘to determine what further steps are warranted.’ Premium
Harvard’s interim president wrote that the university will review the situation ‘to determine what further steps are warranted.’

Harvard University issued a campuswide message Tuesday evening from its interim president condemning an antisemitic cartoon that was circulated—and then disavowed—by two student groups and a faculty organization.

“Perpetuating vile and hateful antisemitic tropes, or otherwise engaging in inflammatory rhetoric or sharing images that demean people on the basis of their identity, is precisely the opposite of what this moment demands of us," wrote Alan Garber, the university’s interim president. “The University will review the situation to better understand who was responsible for the posting and to determine what further steps are warranted."

The latest controversy at the prestigious university comes after a congressional hearing on campus antisemitism that played a role in the last president’s ouster, as well as recently launched federal investigations into antisemitism and anti-Muslim harassment on a number of campuses, including Harvard.

The cartoon was featured in a recent post on Instagram attempting to link the Black and Palestinian “liberation movements." The cartoon depicted a hand etched with a Star of David and a dollar sign holding a noose around the necks of what appear to be Black boxer and activist Muhammad Ali and former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. The three groups that posted the image issued apologies after it sparked criticism on social media.

“The inclusion of the offensive caricature was an unprompted, painful error—a combination of ignorance and inadequate oversight," wrote the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and Harvard’s African and African American Resistance Organization in a joint statement. The groups said the cartoon had come from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an activist organization from the 1960s.

“We apologize for the hurt that these images have caused and do not condone them in any way," wrote the Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine, which had reposted the image. “Harvard FSJP stands against all forms of hate and bigotry including antisemitism."

The university said in a statement Monday that it is reviewing the matter and referring it to the Harvard College Administrative Board, suggesting that disciplinary action could follow.

A Harvard spokesperson declined to comment beyond the university’s recent statements.

Harvard has endured widespread scrutiny since some critics and donors accused the former president of not swiftly condemning the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and not adequately addressing antisemitism on campus. In a December congressional hearing, its then-president, Claudine Gay, was asked whether calling for the genocide of Jews violated Harvard’s code of conduct. She responded that it could, depending on the context. Gay resigned in January after she was later accused of plagiarism.

Conservatives, in particular, have criticized Harvard and other universities, which say they have promoted antisemitism through certain diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

In November, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights added Harvard to the list of schools it is investigating as part of a probe into race- and religious-based harassment since the start of the conflict in Gaza.

On Friday, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce sent Harvard subpoenas for a range of records and accused the school of obstructing its investigation into how the school has responded to antisemitism on campus. “This repugnant antisemitism should have no place in our society, much less on Harvard’s faculty," the committee said Monday on X in response to the cartoon.

Write to Matt Barnum at matt.barnum@wsj.com

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