Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Jewish Professor Parts Way with MIT Over Antisemitic Colleagues

UPDATE February 21, 2024: Karchmer has sine been hired at Yeshiva University; more here.

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A Jewish MIT professor resigned his position last month after concluding that he could no longer work amid the rampant antisemitism that has displayed itself on campus since October 7.

Mauricio Karchmer, a Mexican Jew who was trained in computer science at Hebrew University, wrote in The Free Press that it wasn’t until the reaction to the events of last fall’s Hamas massacre that he was forced to reconsider his dream job.

He wrote that following the barbaric terrorist attack that killed 1,200 Israelis, he emailed the head of his department encouraging her to issue a statement of support for Israelis and Jews. Karchmer said such statements had been issued in the wake of George Floyd‘s murder and after a wave of anti-Asian violence – so he expected similar sympathy for Jews. 

But, like many around the country who had seen their companies and bosses convey public sympathy in the aftermath of horrible events that impacted other minority communities, Karchmer saw his boss fall far short of the mark with her statement.

The Monday after October 7, he wrote that the head of his department “and its office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) sent out a message titled “A time for community support of each other.”‘

‘The message was riddled with equivocations, without mentioning the barbarity of Hamas’s attack … I was shocked that my institution – led by people who are meant to see the world rationally – could not simply condemn a brutal terrorist act,’ he wrote.

Over the next several weeks, Karchmer saw antisemitic protests begin on the MIT campus, during which students shouted ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘From the river to the sea.’

Even more shocking to the former finance executive was when his colleagues began supporting the students behavior.

Sophia Hasenfus, a Diversity, Equity, and Belonging Officer at MIT liked an X post on October 17 that claimed Israel ‘doesn’t have a right to exist,’ because ‘like the US,’ it is ‘an illegitimate settler-colony.’

One day later, a ‘renowned’ neuroscientist at the university posted that Israel is committing ‘genocide.’ The professor, Nancy Kanwisher, then posted that her department is looking for a ‘diverse pool of candidates’ to fill a tenure-track position.

‘I remember thinking, with bitter irony, that Jewish academics need not apply,’ wrote Karchmer.

In November, MIT linguistics professor Michel DeGraff wrote that students who had gathered to chant for another intifada ‘have given me hope for the future.’

In the editorial, titled ‘Standing Together Against Hate: From the River to the Sea, From Gaza to MIT,’ he said that he’d taken his five-year-old daughter to one such protest.

Karchmer wrote that every part of the post-October 7 reaction on campus has been painful, but nothing moreso than ‘watching the Israeli and Jewish students – who comprise fewer than six percent of the MIT student body – suffer.’

He wrote that despite MIT president Sally Kornbluth’s disastrous testimony before congress in December, he does not believe ‘she is the problem.’

Along with several peers of her, Kornbluth infamously failed to unequivocally responded yes when asked if calling for the genocide of Jews violated MIT’s code of conduct.

‘I think the problem at MIT – and across American academia – runs much deeper than the figureheads,’ he wrote.

Students across the US have been radicalized by professors – like DeGraff – who push them toward progressive social justice values, Karchmer said. 

‘America’s brightest minds are being manipulated by a force they don’t even understand to adopt a narrow view of the world,’ Karchmer said.

This problem, the computer scientist concluded, means he can no longer agree to ‘train kids in algorithms, knowing they might one day spread this ideology even further through their advanced knowledge.’

Just eight days after Kornbluth et al.’s disastrous appearance before congress, Karchmer tendered his resignation over the objection of his boss.

‘I cannot continue teaching Algorithms to those who lack the most basic critical thinking skills or emotional intelligence. Nor can I teach those who condemn my Jewish identity or my support for Israel’s right to exist in peace with its neighbors,’ he wrote in his letter.