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As Harvard President, I Am Committed to Tackling the Pernicious Antisemitism on Our Campus

By Harvard University President Claudine Gay:

This essay was adapted from a speech given Friday night at Harvard Hillel.

I’m told that in this week’s Torah portion, God tells Abraham that Abraham will “be a blessing.” Not that Abraham will receive a blessing, but that he will be one in the lives of others. That he will take an active role in bringing light into a world that is so often full of darkness. 

That responsibility to be a blessing – to bring light, to each other and to the world—resonates with me, and with my hopes for Harvard. 

The past few weeks have been full of darkness. First came the horrific terrorist attacks of Oct. 7, in which over 1,400 Jewish people were murdered by Hamas, and more than 200 others were taken hostage. Then came the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. 

Here in the U.S., we are witnessing a surge in anti-Jewish incidents and rhetoric across the nation — and on our own campus. The ancient specter of antisemitism, that persistent and corrosive hatred, has returned with renewed force.

A recent ADL report found that incidents of antisemitism had almost tripled over the past six years nationally. Here at Harvard, I’ve heard story after story of Jewish students feeling increasingly uneasy or even threatened on campus.

As we grapple with this resurgence of bigotry, I want to make one thing absolutely clear: Antisemitism has no place at Harvard. 

For years, this university has done too little to confront its continuing presence. No longer. 

I am committed to tackling this pernicious hatred with the urgency it demands. 

Harvard’s mission, and legacy, is the pursuit and dissemination of truth. And the core of antisemitism is a lie This lie has taken many forms, including Holocaust denial, blood libels, conspiracy theories and the denial of the Jewish peoples’ historical ties to the land of Israel. 

Harvard is a place for inquiry and vigorous debate about our world’s greatest challenges. A place to reveal truth, not to deny facts.

To begin the vital work of eradicating antisemitism from our community, I have assembled a group of advisers whose wisdom, experience, and counsel will help guide us forward. These trusted voices include Jewish members of the faculty, alumni, and religious leaders.

Read the rest of the article in Forward.