Harvard Probes 'Despicable' Anti-Semitic Cartoon Shared By Faculty

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February 20, 2024

Harvard University is probing an anti-Semitic cartoon that both faculty and student groups shared Monday, the school announced.

"Such despicable messages have no place in the Harvard community," the university said Monday in a statement. "We condemn these posts in the strongest possible terms. This matter is being reviewed by the university and is being referred to the Harvard College Administrative Board, which is responsible for the application and enforcement of undergraduate academic regulations and social conduct."

Two student groups at Harvard—the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) and the African and African-American Resistance Organization (AFRO)—created the post jointly on Instagram, and the newly formed Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FSJP) shared it. Detailing the connection between "black liberation" and "Palestinian liberation," the post contained a cartoon from a 1967 newsletter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The image featured a hand with a Star of David and dollar sign holding a noose around the necks of two men who appear to be Muhammad Ali and former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Another arm with the words "Third World" around it holds a sword with "Liberation Movement" imprinted on it.

All the groups involved apologized. PSC and AFRO made a new post without the anti-Semitic cartoon and included a caption that said the image was "not reflective of our values as organizations."

"We reiterate our unending support for solidarity between black and Palestinian communities and have updated our post to reflect what we stand for," the message read. "Our mutual goals for liberation will always include the Jewish community—and we regret inadvertently including an image that played upon antisemitic tropes. Antisemitism has no place in the movement of Palestinian liberation, and we wholeheartedly disavow it in all its forms."

FSJP made a similar statement expressing their regrets over the post.

"It has come to our attention that a post featuring antiquated cartoons which used offensive antisemitic tropes was linked to our account," the group said on Instagram. "We removed the content as soon as it came to our attention. We apologize for the hurt that these images have caused and do not condone them in any way. Harvard FSJP stands against all forms of hate and bigotry, including antisemitism."

The student groups did not identify who created the post, nor did the faculty group reveal who made the decision to share it.

The controversy over the image comes over a month after Jewish students at Harvard sued the school, alleging it had become "a bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment." Prominent Harvard alumni have also criticized the university. Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) was one signatory to an October open letter that accused the administration of being silent "amidst the meteoric rise in anti-Semitism."