BOSTON — A group of Jewish students are suing Harvard University over “severe and pervasive” antisemitism on campus, claiming that Harvard has not done nearly enough to protect Jewish students since Hamas’ terrorist attacks in Israel.

The students filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, alleging that Harvard is violating the civil rights of its Jewish students.

Harvard has been at the epicenter of the student campus clashes over the Hamas-Israel war since Oct. 7. In the days after the Hamas terrorist attacks, dozens of student groups wrote a letter that blamed Israel for the attacks.

Antisemitic incidents have been reported across the Cambridge campus. One notable incident involved pro-Palestinian protesters surrounding a Jewish student, which led to reports being filed with the FBI and Harvard Police. The U.S. Department of Education launched an investigation into Harvard University, and other schools, for possible civil rights violations since the war started.

“Harvard, America’s leading university, has become a bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment,” the students’ lawsuit states. “Since October 7, 2023, when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and slaughtered, tortured, raped, burned, and mutilated 1,200 people – including infants, children, and the elderly – antisemitism at Harvard has been particularly severe and pervasive.

“Mobs of pro-Hamas students and faculty have marched by the hundreds through Harvard’s campus, shouting vile antisemitic slogans and calling for death to Jews and Israel,” the lawsuit reads. “Those mobs have occupied buildings, classrooms, libraries, student lounges, plazas, and study halls, often for days or weeks at a time, promoting violence against Jews and harassing and assaulting them on campus.”


The university has failed to “lift a finger to stop and deter this outrageous antisemitic conduct and penalize the students and faculty who perpetrate it,” according to the students suing Harvard.

The plaintiffs are an individual Jewish student enrolled at Harvard Divinity School – Alexander Kestenbaum – and Students Against Antisemitism, Inc., whose Jewish members include students at Harvard Law School.

When the Herald reached out to Harvard in response to the lawsuit on Thursday, a spokesperson for the university said in a statement, “We do not have comment on the pending litigation.”

Claudine Gay recently resigned as Harvard’s president following her controversial comments in front of Congress about antisemitism on campus, and in the wake of plagiarism allegations. Gay testified that protesters’ calls for the genocide of the Jewish people do not necessarily violate Harvard’s policies.

“Harvard’s antisemitism cancer – as a past Harvard president termed it – manifests itself in a double standard invidious to Jews,” the lawsuit states. “Harvard selectively enforces its policies to avoid protecting Jewish students from harassment, hires professors who support anti-Jewish violence and spread antisemitic propaganda, and ignores Jewish students’ pleas for protection.”

“The severe and pervasive hostile environment for Jews on campus leaves Harvard’s remaining Jewish population even more isolated and unsafe against their abusers,” the suit adds.

The students are claiming that Harvard has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They’re calling for Harvard to hand down discipline against students and professors “responsible for antisemitic discrimination and abuse, whether because they engage in it or permit it.”

The students are also pushing for the university to add required antisemitism training, and for students to get paid “appropriate damages for lost or diminished educational opportunities.”

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