Harvard Antisemitism Task Force: Stirring Up Trouble

Bumpy Beginnings

Harvard Antisemitism latest buzz? They’ve launched a new task force aimed at tackling antisemitism, and boy, oh boy, is it already causing a stir! So, here’s the scoop: Harvard’s interim president, Alan Garber, recently rolled out not one, but two task forces. One’s all about fighting antisemitism, and the other’s focused on tackling Islamophobia and anti-Arab bias. But hold onto your hats—things took a rocky turn when they announced Derek J. Penslar, a Jewish history prof at Harvard, as the co-chair of the antisemitism task force.

Voices of Concern

Guess what? Some big names aren’t too thrilled about Penslar leading the charge. Lawrence H. Summers, a former Harvard bigwig, and Bill Ackman, a hedge fund manager, aren’t holding back. They’re raising eyebrows because Penslar once signed a letter criticizing Israel, calling it an “apartheid regime” for how it treats Palestinians.

The Letter That Started It All

Penslar was just one of nearly 2,900 folks who put their names on the dotted line of an open letter last August. The letter didn’t mince words—it slammed the Israeli government, accusing it of trying to kick out Palestinians from their homes. It even called out rich Jewish folks for backing the far right in Israel.

Debating Definitions

The uproar over Penslar’s appointment shines a spotlight on an age-old debate: what exactly counts as antisemitism? While Penslar sees the task force as a chance to address discrimination faced by Jewish students, his critics aren’t buying it.

Penslar’s Two Cents

In the midst of all this drama, Penslar’s speaking up. He’s saying that leading this task force is a big deal and a chance to tackle discrimination head-on. But in a recent op-ed, he’s also stressing the need for a clearer understanding of what antisemitism really means.


So, there you have it—Harvard’s antisemitism task force is kicking up dust right out of the gate. With Penslar’s appointment stirring the pot, it’s clear there’s still a lot to unpack when it comes to antisemitism. Let’s see how this task force navigates the stormy seas ahead!