Elise Stefanik Slams Harvard’s Appointment of Anti-Israel Prof to Anti-Semitism Task Force

Rep. Elise Stefanik (Getty Images)
January 23, 2024

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) slammed Harvard University Tuesday for appointing an anti-Israel professor to a leadership position on its task force to combat anti-Semitism.

"Harvard has become a disgraced bastion for anti-Semitism," Stefanik, a Harvard alumna, said in a statement. "Not only did Harvard’s leadership allow anti-Semitism to rage on campus as Jewish students faced incessant harassment and physical assaults, they have now shown willful negligence by appointing Derek Penslar as the co-chair to their Anti-Semitism Task Force."

Stefanik's comments come days after the Washington Free Beacon reported that Penslar had signed an open letter in August calling Israel a "regime of apartheid" and called on the United States government to "restrict American military aid" from being used in "the Occupied Palestinian Territories." The report also revealed that Penslar had organized faculty in support of former university president Claudine Gay after she testified to Congress that calling for the genocide of Jews would not necessarily violate her school's code of conduct.

"The indefensible decision to appoint Penslar to a task force meant to investigate anti-Semitism will undoubtedly lead to the undermining of this task force’s mission," Stefanik said. "It is disturbing that Harvard’s leadership continues down this path of complete and total failure to stand up for the rights and safety of Jewish and Israeli students."

Stefanik joins a list of prominent Harvard alumni who have slammed their alma mater for the appointment of Penslar.

Former Harvard president Larry Summers called Penslar "unsuited" for the task force. He added that he has "lost confidence" in the Harvard leadership's ability to create an environment "where Jews and Israelis can flourish." Summers also said that, while he did not believe Penslar was anti-Semitic, the professor had "publicly minimized Harvard's anti-Semitism problem."

Another prominent alumnus to criticize the university is billionaire investor Bill Ackman, who took part in the campaign pressuring Harvard to fire Gay. He said the school "continues on the path of darkness."