Harvard University establishes task force that experts say is 'unbalanced'


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Critics are blasting task forces created by Harvard University in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war following a series of recommendations released in late June.

In the aftermath of the Israel-Hamas war, the Ivy League university announced the establishment of task forces focused on “combating anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian bias and antisemitism” on campus. Those task forces released their preliminary recommendations in a report to Harvard’s interim president, Alan M. Garber. Their final report is expected in the fall. 

Experts ripped the preliminary findings of Harvard’s task forces, saying they created a “smoke and mirrors” and “DEI-obsessed” approach to combat continued rising antisemitism plaguing colleges across the nation.

HARVARD ANNOUNCES NEW RESTRICTION ON STATEMENTS ABOUT ‘CONTROVERSIAL PUBLIC POLICY ISSUES’

Sign reading, 'Stop the Genocide in Gaza'

Harvard students take part in a demonstration in front of Harvard Law School in support of Palestinians. (Josh Reynolds for The Washington Post via Getty Images))

Liora Rez, the founder and executive director of StopAntisemitism, blasted the recommendations in an interview with Fox News Digital. 

“They actually make things worse,” Rez said. “First, they are unbalanced. There is a task force on combating anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian bias while the other focuses only on combating antisemitism. What about anti-Israeli bias?”

Rez said the groups should have focused on antisemitism and anti-Israeli bias, arguing that antisemitism on campuses far surpasses anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bias.

“The task forces were formed in the wake of the tsunami of antisemitic and anti-Israeli activity on Harvard’s campus,” she said. “No honest observer of events can say that any other bias compares to what Jewish and Israeli students experienced at Harvard, including physical assaults, verbal and physical harassment, ridicule and public shaming by fellow students, staff, and faculty, social media and online abuse, and interference with their very efforts to obtain the education they paid for.”

“No honest observer of events can say that any other bias compares to what Jewish and Israeli students experienced at Harvard…” 

— Liora Rez

Liora Rez, the Founder and Executive Director of StopAntisemitism

Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism, blasted Harvard’s task force recommendations on “combating anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and anti-Palestinian bias and antisemitism” on campus. (Fox News Digital)

Rez blasted one of the task force recommendations to fund a visiting professorship in Palestinian studies, calling it “laughable.” 

“If this was the Babylon Bee headline it could not be more laughable,” she said. “Harvard has acknowledged that faculty has discriminated against Jewish and Israeli students.”

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The StopAntisemitism founder said the recommendations to combat antisemitism paled in comparison to the anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim recommendations.

Rather than combating on-campus antisemitism, she added, the task force instead fueled it. 

“Meanwhile, to protect Jews and Israelis, the recommendations are general, including to ‘take action,’ and increase ‘anti-harassment’ training. What does that even mean?” Rez said. “The task force recommendations do nothing more than continue Harvard’s shameful record of not only not combating antisemitism and anti-Israeli bias, but actually feeding it.”

Israeli flags at lawn at Harvard University

Israeli flags were planted on the lawn of the Harvard Divinity School as campus protests continue. (Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

William Jacobson, the founder of the Equal Protection Project and Cornell University law professor, told Fox News Digital this is further proof that Harvard is trying – and failing – to tow “both sides” in the Israel-Hamas war.

“Harvard tries to ‘both sides’ the campus problems, but in reality the anti-Israel and antisemitic students were the aggressors,” he said. “Jewish and pro-Israel students were not holding rallies calling for the destruction of Palestinians and using anti-Muslim rhetoric. It was almost all in one direction, but you wouldn’t know that from the report.”

Jacobson argued that the Ivy League institution is “sanitizing antisemitism under the guise of fighting ‘Islamophobia’.”

“We have seen a similar ‘both sides’ approach at Cornell, where I teach law, and at many other schools. It’s time for university administrations to be honest as to the source of the problem,” he said. “It’s not ‘Islamophobic’ to acknowledge that the Jew-hatred that inspires and motivates Islamist groups like Hamas has made its way onto campuses under the cover of ‘pro-Palestinian’ activism.”

“The DEI obsession that has captured particularly elite campuses is the mother’s milk of antisemitism and anti-Israel activism, by pigeonholing Jews as supposedly White oppressors and fomenting racial animus under the banner of decolonization,” Jacobson said. 

William Jacobson FOX

Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson blasted Harvard for establishing an unbalanced task force. (Fox News)

HARVARD STUDENT SAYS ‘PRO-TERRORISM HATE FEST’ IS HAPPENING IN ENCAMPMENT BEYOND SCHOOL’S LOCKED GATES

“Rather than issuing meaningless task force reports, universities should start dismantling the DEI bureaucracies and programming, and refocus on respecting each student as an individual rather than as a proxy for racial, ethnic, and religious identity groups,” he added.

The Harvard Yard encampment

Anti-Israel protesters in Harvard Yard. (David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The recommendations focused on 13 areas.

“As a university, we should be focusing on what we do best. We do research. We teach. We enable each other to have serious, substantive, and constructive conversations on all issues,” Asim Ijaz Khwaja, co-chair, Task Force on Combating Anti-Muslim, Anti-Arab, and Anti-Palestinian Bias told The Harvard Gazette. “In many ways, what we’re responding to is both what we’re hearing our community say, but also what we feel the University can and should actually effectively deliver on as well – which is to create a safe and supportive space to learn, educate, and grow.”

Harvard University campus sign

Campus direction arrows at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Plexi Images/GHI/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The recommendations focused on “creating a safe environment” by expanding counseling and protective services.

GOP HARVARD GRADUATES SEND SCATHING LETTER BLASTING SCHOOL’S RESPONSE TO PRO-HAMAS STUDENTS: ‘ABHORRENT’

“While Palestinians face Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism like other groups, they hail from a variety of religious backgrounds and also encounter unique challenges stemming from their status as Palestinians seeking national rights,” Wafaie Fawzi told the publication. “Highlighting anti-Palestinian bias would also promote inclusiveness of the voice of a large segment of our community that considers themselves allies of Palestinian aspirations, including South Asians, African Americans, Whites, and other groups.”

Dunster House on Harvard University campus

Dunster House, on the campus of Harvard University, seen on Feb. 17, 2024, from across the Charles River in Allston, Massachusetts. (Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The task force also addressed disciplinary action and fostering “constructive dialogue.”

“Training for instructional staff and at student orientation programs must clarify the difference between a challenging classroom atmosphere, which is healthy and constructive, and a threatening one, which is toxic,” Derek Penslar, the co-chair of the task force, told the publication. “Guidelines for co-curricular organizations and residences should stress the importance of inclusivity, however contentious conversations within them may be.”

WATCH:

Harvard University has faced backlash following its highly publicized antisemitism and plagiarism controversies.

Then-President Claudine Gay’s congressional testimony began the firestorm after the Harvard leader’s reluctance to adequately condemn antisemitism.

HUNDREDS OF HARVARD FACULTY SIGN LETTER REBUKING UNIVERSITY LEADERS’ TEPID RESPONSE TO HAMAS ‘WAR CRIMES’

The scandal worsened after Gay was accused of plagiarism in her academic work.

After facing dozens of plagiarism allegations, Gay released a letter to members of the Harvard community, saying she was stepping down as president but would return to the Harvard faculty.

Harvard interim president Alan Garber

Harvard University Provost Alan Garber attends the commencement exercises on May 29, 2014, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber, an economist and physician who is the school’s chief academic officer, took the helm of the prestigious university in January.

Despite the university scrambling to assemble an antisemitism task force, the group has been plagued by resignations and internal complaints.

Major donors to the school have pulled their contributions amid the chaos. 

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Fox News Digital reached out to Harvard University for comment.

Fox News Digital’s Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report.



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