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Rabbi Wolpe says Harvard system is 'evil,' and resigns from antisemitism advisory committee

Students fly an aerial banner that reads "Harvard hates Jews" over the campus at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., December 7, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Faith Ninivaggi)

Following the outrageous testimony of three Ivy League university presidents at a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Rabbi David Wolpe, the rabbinic fellow for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School, wrote on X that he had resigned from the Antisemitism Advisory Group at Harvard University.

During the congressional hearing, Harvard President Claudine Gay, together with the presidents of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of Pennsylvania, were each asked by New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik if “calling for the genocide of Jews” is against their universities’ respective codes of conduct. Each university president responded that the answer depended on the “context.”

Wolpe made a decision to resign from his position and posted the following in response to the hearing.

“As of today I have resigned from the antisemitism advisory committee at Harvard… the short explanation is that both events on campus and the painfully inadequate testimony reinforced the idea that I cannot make the sort of difference I had hoped. Still, there are several points worth making. I believe Claudine Gay to be both a kind and thoughtful person. Most of the students here wish only to get an education and a job, not prosecute ideological agendas, and there are many, many honorable, thoughtful and good people at the institution,” he wrote.

“However, the system at Harvard along with the ideology that grips far too many of the students and faculty, the ideology that works only along axes of oppression and places Jews as oppressors and therefore intrinsically evil, is itself evil. Ignoring Jewish suffering is evil. Belittling or denying the Jewish experience, including unspeakable atrocities, is a vast and continuing catastrophe. Denying Israel the self-determination as a Jewish nation accorded unthinkingly to others is endemic, and evil,” Wolpe stated.

The rabbi made it clear that this new “evil” is embedded within the system and will not go away simply by exchanging the leadership of the universities, but that change would require a “vast unlearning.”

“It is not going to be changed by hiring or firing a single person, or posting on X, or yelling at people who don’t post as you wish when you wish, as though posting is the summation of one’s moral character. This is the task of educating a generation, and also a vast unlearning. Part of the problem is a simple herd mentality – people screaming slogans whose meaning and implication they know nothing of, or not wishing to be disliked by taking an unpopular position," his posted continued.

"Some of it is the desire to achieve social status by being the sole or greatest victim. Some of it is simple, old fashioned Jew hatred, that ugly arrow in the quiver of dark hearts for millenia,” Wolpe added.

Harvard, MIT and UPenn have faced a lot of criticism since giving their testimony at the hearing. Harvard tried to mitigate some of the damage by proclaiming what its president could not admit at the hearing, after being asked repeatedly.

“Statement from President Gay: There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students. Let me be clear: Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group are vile, they have no place at Harvard, and those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account,” Harvard University posted on X.


The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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