Final Wednesday, I spent seven hours on campus with Jewish, Israeli, and non-Jewish legislation faculty college students and college, at HBS, and in a 90-minute city corridor at Aldrich 112 with 230 Jewish college students (coincidentally one for each hostage held by Hamas is being held), analysis workers and college from the college as a complete, organized by Harvard Chabad. Because the day went on, it turned clear that the scenario at Harvard is dire and getting worse, a lot worse than I had realized.
Jewish college students are bullied, bodily intimidated, spit on and, in a number of broadly circulated movies of 1 such incident, bodily abused. Scholar Slack’s message boards are filled with anti-Semitic statements, memes, and pictures. Protesters on campus on the steps of Widener Library and elsewhere shout “Intifada! Intifada! Intifada! From the river to the ocean, Palestine can be free!” whereas knowingly calling for violent rebel and utilizing language of elimination to convey in regards to the destruction of the State of Israel and the Jewish individuals.
Whenever you defined in your October 12 video handle that Harvard “embraces a dedication to free speech,” you despatched a transparent message that the demonstrators’ eliminationist and anti-Semitic statements are allowed on campus. Aside from authorized restrictions on freedom of expression, together with restrictions on counter-words and precise threats, ‘the place audio system direct a menace in opposition to an individual or group of individuals with the intention of placing the sufferer in worry of bodily hurt or loss of life’, If Harvard certainly had a powerful report of defending free speech, many would have taken your assist totally free speech extra critically. Sadly, particularly in recent times, Harvard has not embraced a severe dedication to free speech.
Within the Basis for Particular person Rights and Expression (FIRE) annual Faculty Free Speech Rankings, Harvard has constantly completed within the backside quartile for the previous 4 years, with the rankings worsening annually. On September 23, simply two weeks earlier than October 7, FIRE introduced that Harvard had achieved its lowest ever free speech rating for the 2023 tutorial yr, rating 254 universities in final place, with a ranking of 0.00, the one college with a “horrible” speech local weather. See: https://thefire.org/information/harvard-gets-worst-score-ever-fires-college-free-speech-rankings for the outcomes of the research by which FIRE cites a number of examples of incidents on the Harvard campus the place college students and college have been denied their First Modification rights. Subsequently, citing Harvard’s “dedication to free speech” in supporting the protesters seems false and hypocritical to the college as a complete and to the Jewish group particularly.
Many Jewish college students have additionally lately turn into afraid to voice their considerations. Many have additionally felt the necessity to take away their mezuzahs, yarmulkes, Stars of David and different overt proof of their faith and heritage on campus and in Cambridge to keep away from being uncovered to discrimination, harassment or worse.