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Outrage is an expression of both anger and shock. Since over 30 student groups at Harvard signed an open letter in support of Hamas, after it committed the largest attack on Jews since the Holocaust, national outrage appears to be a healthy and necessary response. As Israel now struggles to defend its citizens, college campuses around the country erupted in anti-Semitic protests calling for the elimination of the Jewish state. The anger now aimed at American universities over its acceptance of anti-Semitism is well-placed, but there should be no surprise. Anti-Semitism is the norm of American higher education, and its hatred of Jews goes hand in hand with its hatred of Western ideals and its longstanding ties with totalitarian regimes like China.
In the 1930s, Harvard turned a blind eye to anti-Semitism, and worked tirelessly to build ties with Nazified universities in Europe. This is unsurprising given Harvard’s interest in ideas of “racial purity,” and eugenics, which was part and parcel of the progressivism of the era. Based on the broad condemnation of Israel among student organizations, the rallies calling to “free Palestine,” and melodramatic anti-Israel “die-ins” performed by America’s supposedly best and brightest, Harvard is keeping tradition alive. Harvard is still progressive, fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and was already topping the charts for anti-Semitism before Hamas’ recent terrorist attacks.
Over the past 90 years since Harvard’s pro-Nazi days, the university has managed to diversify its population of anti-Semites. Last year, a report by the AMCHA Initiative noted that Harvard ranked “top in three measures of campus antisemitism amongst hundreds of colleges across America. Shortly after Hamas murdered 1,400 Israelis, a vastly diverse coalition of Harvard student groups united in their anti-Semitism by calling Israel an “apartheid regime” and holding the “Israeli regime entirely responsible for all of the unfolding violence.” Harvard’s anti-Semitic coalition is diverse, ranging from Harvard’s African American Resistance Organization to Harvard’s Divinity School Students for Justice in Palestine, the Harvard Prison Divest Coalition, the Sikh and Companions of Harvard Undergraduate Society of Arab Students, and the Kennedy School Bangladesh Caucus.
Harvard’s lukewarm response to the rampant anti-Semitism as “free expression” is a hypocritical double standard at best. After all, Harvard was explicit in its stance against racism after the 2020 death of George Floyd, and called for “all voices to be raised” against Russia when it invaded Ukraine in 2022. The answer for why Harvard cannot condemn those condoning the murder of 1,400 innocent Israelis derives from the concept of “intersectionality” as its central operating principle. Russia is an easy target for Harvard’s criticism, not only because of its actions, but because it fits academia’s image of a mythical Western oppressor power; Hamas, however, does not. Never mind that among Israel’s Jewish population, over half are of non-European or Western extraction. In the mind of elite academia, Israel is an oppressor while Hamas gets a pass. Intersectionality is guided by an anti-Western animus.
Like Harvard’s overtures to the Nazis in the 1930s, the elite university maintains close ties with totalitarian powers today who oppose American values. Harvard’s anti-American pedigree runs deep. The Harvard Gazette notesthat back when it happily excluded Jews a century ago, Yamamoto Isoroku, the Japanese admiral who later carried out the attack on Pearl Harbor, attended the school. The anti-American and self-proclaimed Marxisthistorian Howard Zinn, whose work helped reframe the U.S. as an irredeemably racist project in education, worked on a post-doctoral fellowship in East Asian Studies at Harvard. The daughter of China’s Xi Jinping, Xi Mingze, similarly attended the school. Like Harvard’s institutional amorousness with America’s enemy in the 1930s and its anti-Semitism of old, Harvard today carries on this tradition.
Since 1993, Harvard has run the Harvard-China Project, a joint program in the fields of energy, economic development, and the sciences. Committed to “equal partnership” with its Chinese counterparts, Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Applied Sciences works with China’s Tsinghua University. Tsinghua University has close ties with the Chinese military by assisting in the development technology for air-to-air missiles and artificial intelligence while training students for Beijing’s nuclear weapons program. Tsinghua has been linked for years to cyberattacks in India, attacks on the state government of Alaska, Kenya’s Ports Authority, and for monitoring anti-Communist Chinese dissidents. Just as Harvard refused to outright condemn Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians, China has become a hotbed of anti-Semitism as well.
The onslaught of anger from Harvard’s donors and the wider public is justified. The reaction of Harvard’s administration and student body is anti-Semitic, and ultimately anti-American. Outrage hopefully turns into change at what is arguably America’s most iconic university. Hopefully this outrage is sustained. After all, Harvard has a century-long track record of being on the wrong side of history.