A group of Jewish Harvard students has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the storied Ivy League institution, claiming university officials employ a “double standard” whereby they protect other groups from discrimination and harassment — but fail to do so when Jewish students are targeted.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday night alleges that the university has allowed students and faculty accused of engaging in antisemitic acts to remain on campus — and once even plied a mob of pro-Palestinian demonstrators “with burritos and candy.”
“Harvard’s antisemitism cancer — as a past Harvard president termed it — manifests itself as a double standard invidious to Jews,” reads the lawsuit, which was filed in Boston federal court and obtained by the Post.
“Harvard selectively enforces its policies to avoid protecting Jewish students from harassment, hires professors who support anti-Jewish violence and spread antisemitic propaganda, and ignores Jewish students’ pleas for protection.”
It goes on to argue that the university “permits students and faculty to advocate, without consequence, the murder of Jews, and the destruction of Israel, the only Jewish country in the world.
“Meanwhile, Harvard requires students to take a training class that warns that they will be disciplined if they engage in ‘sizeism,’ ‘fatphobia,’ ‘racism,’ ‘transphobia’ or other disfavored behavior.”
The suit also claims Harvard officials have “been aware of its antisemitism for years, but its response has been, to say the least, clearly unreasonable and totally unacceptable in not just tolerating, but enabling antisemitism.”
The suit alleges that even before Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel in October, the group Harvard Out of Palestine “led a relentless campaign against retired Israeli Major Gen. Amos Yadlin, a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government” in which students marched through campus in April 2022, banging on drums and using a megaphone to accuse Yadlin of being personally responsible for “genocide.”
A few months later, in August, members of the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee also disrupted the university’s convocation for new students by chanting and displaying a sign that read “Veritas? Here’s the Real Truth: Harvard Supports Israeli Apartheid,” referring to the university’s financial support of Israel, according to the suit.
“Harvard later shared on social media images from the convocation that prominently displayed the banner,” it claims.
Matters only grew worse following Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel, the Jewish students claim.
They cited a number of instances in which Jewish students were confronted by pro-Palestine demonstrators.
In one case, a Jewish student was seen being surrounded by protesters who yelled “shame” at him while he was walking to class.
Other times, Jewish students were left hiding inside buildings as protesters raged and called for a Jewish genocide, according to the suit.
Professors would cancel classes to allow students to attend these pro-Palestine rallies, and when “a mob of students took over a campus building to further their antisemitic agenda, Harvard’s response was not to remove and discipline them, but to supply them with burritos and candy,” the suit says.
Meanwhile, Harvard officials allegedly told Jewish students to conceal their identity, according to the suit — pointing to a claim made by Chabad Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi who said the university required him to take down his menorah at night so it would not be vandalized.
As a result, the suit says the students “are acutely aware that, solely because of their Jewish identities Harvard views and treats them as second-class citizens in the Harvard community, undeserving of the protection that Harvard affords non-Jewish students.”
They are unable to focus, study or perform their coursework to the best of their ability, it claims.
The students are now calling for any deans, administrators, professors and other employees who are “responsible for antisemitic discrimination and abuse, whether they engage in it or permit it” to be fired, and the suspension or expulsion of any student engaged in antisemitism.
The suit also says the university must decline and return any donations “implicitly or explicitly conditioned on the hiring or promotion of professors who espouse antisemitism or the inclusion of antisemitic coursework or curricula,” and add an antisemitism training for the Harvard community members.
Additionally, the students are seeking damages “for lost or diminished educational opportunities.”
“It is clear that Harvard will not correct its deep-seated antisemitism problem voluntarily,” attorney Marc E. Kasowitz said in a statement to the Boston Globe.
“Jewish students at Harvard are being subjected to vile and threatening antisemitic harassment and calls for the murder of Jews.
“Harvard must be forced to protect its Jewish students and stop applying a double standard when it comes to anti-Jewish bigotry.”
The Post has reached out to Harvard for comment.
Wednesday’s suit comes amid a Congressional investigation into the reports of antisemitism on campus.
In a nine-page letter on Tuesday, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce demanded the university fork over all documents related to Jewish students and antisemitism on campus.
It is giving the university just two weeks to comply.