Harvard Cracks Down After ‘Flagrantly Anti-Semitic’ Cartoon Circulates

Harvard University is not sitting idly after a cartoon it considers “flagrantly antisemitic” was posted by three different groups that are affiliated with the prestigious school.

This new controversy comes as the school is dealing with an investigation from Congress into issues related to anti-Semitism on Harvard’s campus as well as that at other top universities.

A cartoon was posted by both the African American Resistance Organization and the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee that showed a Black man and an Arab man with nooses tied around their necks.

In the cartoon, the hand that was holding the rope had a money sign and a Star of David on it.

The Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine then reposted the cartoon.

Since they posted the image, all three groups have apologized for doing so. Alan Garber, the interim president of Harvard, also issued a statement that said:

“While the groups associated with the posting or sharing of the cartoon have since sought to distance themselves from it in various ways, the damage remains, and our condemnation stands.

“As members of an academic community, we can and we will disagree, sometimes vehemently, on matters of public concern and controversy, including hotly contested issues relating to the war in Israel and Gaza, and the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But, it is grossly irresponsible and profoundly offensive when that disagreement devolves into forms of expression that demonize individuals because of their religion, race, nationality or other aspects of their identity.”

The incident drew the attention of the House Education Committee, which has been investigating Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and other schools for alleged anti-Semitic behavior on their campuses.

Harvard was recently subpoenaed by the committee for not turning over sufficient documents about the issue.

Following the news of the cartoon, the committee took to the social media platform X to write:

“This repugnant antisemitism should have no place in our society, much less on Harvard’s faculty.”

In December, the presidents of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard appeared before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to discuss various accusations that the campuses weren’t doing enough to protect Jewish students.

Republican Representative Elise Stefanik asked the presidents directly whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” would be in violation of their code of conduct. The three presidents didn’t immediately respond saying that it would, which sparked significant controversy and backlash.

In early December, Liz Magill resigned as the president of Penn following her disastrous testimony.

Then, one month later, Claudine Gay stepped down as president of Harvard for the same reason. She had only assumed the role in July 2023, and was the university’s first Black president.

When she stepped down, she released a statement that in many ways tried to defend what she said. It read:

“It has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor … and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus.”