'This Is Not Leadership': Open Letter Skewers Harvard For Failing To Protect Jewish Students

Mitt Romney, Seth Klarman cite Free Beacon report in letter lamenting 'vitriol against Jews' on Ivy League campus

Israeli building, Claudine Gay (Amir Levy/Getty Images,
October 24, 2023

Five prominent Harvard Business School alumni are hammering the Ivy League institution for failing to protect its Jewish attendees, citing a Washington Free Beacon report on an Israeli student who was shoved at a campus protest as proof.

In an open letter to Harvard leadership published Monday, Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah), billionaire investor Seth Klarman, and other prominent graduates called on the college to "muster the courage to lead by re-establishing moral and respectful conduct on your campuses." The letter cites recent "expressions of hate and vitriol against Jews" seen on Harvard's campus, including an incident in which a first-year Israeli student was shoved and accosted during an anti-Israel "die-in" protest. That ordeal, which was first reported by the Free Beacon, has left Harvard's Jewish students "afraid for their own safety."

"Despite these serious concerns, university leadership shockingly has been paralyzed," the letter says. "We fear that history is on the verge of repeating itself. We know from studying the worst episodes of human history that violence must be nipped in the bud, bullies must be confronted, and inaction and handwringing incentivizes more acts of hate."

The letter comes as Harvard navigates the fallout over the university's response to Hamas's savage Oct. 8 terrorist assault on Israel, which left at least 1,300 Israelis—including women and children—dead.

Hours after the attack, Harvard Graduate School of Education dean Bridget Terry Long sent a message to students blaming "both Hamas and the Israeli government" for the killings. That message came shortly after a coalition of more than 30 Harvard student groups blamed Israel for provoking Hamas's mass terror attack, saying the Jewish state and its "apartheid regime" is "entirely responsible for all unfolding violence."

Harvard president Claudine Gay responded with a belated statement that condemned "the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas." But Gay's statement did not stop anti-Israel and anti-Semitic demonstrations from festering on campus. Activists at one of those demonstrations turned aggressive last week, when two Harvard graduate students—Ibrahim Bharmal and Elom Tettey Tamaklo—laid hands on a first-year Israeli student at Harvard Business School. That student was shoved as keffiyeh-clad demonstrators surrounded him, shouting "SHAME!"

Harvard has failed to address the ordeal, according to Romney and Klarman's letter, despite holding "endless meetings discussing what to do." The letter calls on Gay and other Harvard leaders to limit protests to enrolled students only and ban protesters from covering their faces.

"Leaders should state that the campus police are viewing all videos of these hate-filled, violent altercations and that any students, faculty members, or employees who have violated the code of conduct will be suspended or expelled," the letter says.

Harvard did not return a request for comment.