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Harvard Academics Under Fire After Anti-Jewish Caricature Surfaces

UPDATE February 21, 2024: The leader of the two anti-Zionist Harvard University groups which posted an antisemitic cartoon on social media has resigned from his positions; more here.

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Harvard has been caught in yet another antisemitism scandal after a faculty group posted an old cartoon filled with “offensive tropes” depicting a Jewish person hanging a black and an Arab man.

The Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine reposted the cartoon Monday after it was shared by two student groups, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Africa and African American Resistance Organization, according to the student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson.

It shows a hand with a dollar sign inside a Star of David holding nooses around what appear to be Muhammad Ali and former Egyptian President Gamal Nasser — with “third world” printed around a black arm swinging a machete with the words “liberation movement” on it.

The groups said they shared the poster, which is originally from 1967, to show how “African people have a profound understanding of apartheid and occupation.”

Instead, it added to accusations that the Ivy League school fails to protect Jewish students from hate.

“The cartoon is despicably, inarguably antisemitic,” Rabbi David Wolpe, a Harvard Divinity School scholar who resigned from the school’s antisemitism advisory committee in December, posted to X.

Shabbos Kestenbaum, a Divinity School student who is suing the university for discrimination, also shared outrage at the offensive poster being reshared.

“Harvard *faculty* just posted an explicitly antisemitic poster depicting a Jewish hand controlling the black mind,” he wrote. 

“With professors like these, it’s easy to see why Jewish students don’t feel safe in class.”

“Is there no limit?”

The faculty group — formed weeks after former president Claudine Gay lost her job in a scandal sparked by her handling of antisemitism on campus — later apologized.

“It has come to our attention that a post featuring antiquated cartoons, which used offensive tropes was linked to our account,” the group wrote on Instagram.

“We removed the content as soon as it came to our attention. We apologize for the hurt these images have caused and do not condone them in any way.

“Harvard FSJP stands against all forms of hate and bigotry, including antisemitism.”

The student groups that originally posted the image also issued a statement saying that it “was not reflective of our values as organizations,” according to the Crimson.

“Our mutual goals for liberation will always include the Jewish community — and we regret inadvertently including a message that played upon antisemitic tropes,” it said.

“Antisemitism has no place in the movement of Palestinian liberation, and we wholeheartedly disavow it in all forms.”

The university is investigating the social media posts, and may refer the matter to the Harvard College Administrative Board to determine whether anyone should be disciplined, the Crimson reports.

“Such despicable messages have no place in the Harvard community,” the university said in a statement to the student paper.

“We condemn these posts in the strongest possible terms.”

The post came just days after top school officials were issued subpoenas Friday by a House committee over their “continued failure” to comply with its antisemitism probe.

After the offensive cartoon was posted on Monday, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce once again slammed the university.

“This repugnant antisemitism should have no place in our society, much less on Harvard’s faculty,” it wrote on X.