Harvard’s new president, a black lady named Claudine Gay, [Email her] who got roasted by deep-pocketed Jewish donors for not issuing a sufficiently one-sided enough statement about the conflict in the Middle East, has now announced that Harvard will henceforward be extra anti-anti-Semitic, with the DEI department being tasked to put fighting anti-Semitism up there with fighting racism.
But—and many Jews and anti-Semites don’t grasp this—the bureaucratic side of DEI will continue to work against Jews because virtually all American Jews are counted as white. Why? Because Jewish organizations don’t want Jews to be counted as a separate group because, among several reasons, they are so high-achieving and wealthy. So all attempts to increase the number of the Diverse in elite institutions like Harvard in the name of DEI will hit Jews hard, no matter whether Jews or anti-Semites feel like they are white or not. That’s how the arithmetic works.
Gay then says:
Finally, I have heard concerns from some about how this important work relating to antisemitism will bear on Harvard’s vital commitment to free expression. Combating antisemitism and fostering free expression are mutually consistent goals. We are at our strongest when we commit to open inquiry and freedom of expression as foundational values of our academic community. At the same time, our community must understand that phrases such as “from the river to the sea” bear specific historical meanings that to a great many people imply the eradication of Jews from Israel and engender both pain and existential fears within our Jewish community. I condemn this phrase and any similarly hurtful phrases.
OK, what about, say, “population transfer,” an Israeli term for ethnically cleansing the Gaza Strip? From the Associated Press:
An Israeli ministry, in a ‘concept paper,’ proposes transferring Gaza civilians to Egypt’s Sinai
BY AMY TEIBEL
Updated 7:44 PM PST, October 30, 2023
JERUSALEM (AP)—An Israeli government ministry has drafted a wartime proposal to transfer the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million people to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, drawing condemnation from the Palestinians and worsening tensions with Cairo.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office played down the report compiled by the Intelligence Ministry as a hypothetical exercise—a “concept paper.” But its conclusions deepened long-standing Egyptian fears that Israel wants to make Gaza into Egypt’s problem, and revived for Palestinians memories of their greatest trauma—the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of people who fled or were forced from their homes during the fighting surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. …
The document proposes moving Gaza’s civilian population to tent cities in northern Sinai, then building permanent cities and an undefined humanitarian corridor. A security zone would be established inside Israel to block the displaced Palestinians from entering. The report did not say what would become of Gaza once its population is cleared out.
Is that similarly hurtful?
More sensibly, the Washington Post editorial board lucidly explains why college administrations shouldn’t be proclaiming their official views of current events like, say, the Washington Post editorial board does:
By the Editorial Board
November 10, 2023 at 10:13 a.m. EST
… Higher education needs to find its way back to a place where institutions do not weigh in, as institutions, on the controversies of the day. Silence is not necessarily complicity. Rather, it is a sound practice consistent with academia’s role in society, which is to foster open inquiry.
A study in 2021 by the professional association for student affairs administrators found that 230 of 300 institutions of higher education surveyed issued statements in the two weeks after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. More than half addressed broader debates around institutional and structural racism. Harvard University not only issued such a statement but also flew the Ukrainian flag over Harvard Yard after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Then-President Lawrence S. Bacow declared, “Harvard University stands with the people of Ukraine.” The University of California system’s president called the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade “antithetical to the University of California’s mission and values.”
I’m impressed that the Washington Post has spelled out for its readers exactly what its recommendation that college presidents not issue ringing endorsements of the latest Current Thing would have entailed in this decade.
… We support abortion rights, condemned the invasion of Ukraine and decried Floyd’s murder. We of course condemn Hamas’s massacre. The problem with official university statements is that, however valid and well-intentioned, they imply there is an orthodox view of those matters—and related policy issues—within a particular school. This can deter debate and set off competition for a university’s moral imprimatur, as we are seeing now.
Universities need to recommit to the principles in the University of Chicago’s Kalven report of 1967. … When a university takes a “collective position,” it says, this inhibits the “full freedom of dissent on which [the university] thrives.” After Oct. 7, the University of Chicago adhered to the Kalven principles. Its president, Paul Alivisatos, did not speak out on the Hamas attacks or the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Two university leaders sent a generic message to students, notifying them of relevant travel advisories and pointing them toward the university’s support services.
… for secular institutions committed to unfettered and contentious speech, silence is the best policy. Paradoxically, nonintervention by university leaders can empower students and faculty members to speak their minds and register dissent from the prevailing wisdom. When administrators take sides, they are sending a message to students and professors that there is a right way to think. The role of colleges and universities is not to tell students what to think, much less what the administration thinks. It is to teach students how to think.
My view is that the president of Harvard shouldn’t advise Harvard professors and students on what to say, but should advise them on how to say it: e.g., no violence, no intimidation, no screaming meltdowns, etc.