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 February 26, 2024

Co-chair of Harvard's new antisemitism task force abruptly leaves

Harvard University disclosed on Sunday that Alan Garber, serving as the interim president, will assume the role of co-chair of the institution's task force on antisemitism, replacing Professor Raffaella Sadun.

The task force was established in January to address concerns regarding antisemitism on campus.

The change

The transition in leadership represents a significant development for the task force, coming shortly after former President Claudine Gay's departure amid scrutiny over Harvard's handling of antisemitism, as detailed in a report by The Harvard Crimson.

Garber's appointment follows Sadun's resignation from her position as co-chair, citing a desire to redirect her focus towards her research, teaching, and administrative duties at Harvard Business School (HBS).

In a statement issued by Harvard, Garber expressed gratitude for Sadun's contributions to the task force, recognizing her insights and dedication to the mission of combating antisemitism.

Sadun's statement

Sadun, in her own statement provided by Harvard, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to contribute to the fight against antisemitism and affirmed her commitment to supporting ongoing efforts from her faculty position.

Her departure marks a shift in leadership dynamics within the task force, raising questions about its future direction and effectiveness.

The task force on antisemitism was established alongside a separate initiative aimed at addressing anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias. Sadun was appointed as co-chair alongside Derek Penslar, a professor specializing in Jewish history.

Other issues

Penslar's appointment sparked controversy due to his prior signing of a letter criticizing the Israeli government's treatment of Palestinians. Despite some criticism, Penslar received support from numerous Jewish leaders.

The abrupt resignation of Sadun has drawn attention to the challenges facing the task force and broader concerns regarding antisemitism on college campuses. Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, an alumnus of Harvard, took to social media platform X to comment on Sadun's departure, highlighting the apparent turnover within the task force and raising questions about its longevity and efficacy.

The context of the Israel-Hamas conflict has heightened tensions surrounding discussions of antisemitism and anti-Muslim bias on college campuses, contributing to a surge in reported incidents. This escalation prompted investigations by the Education Department into allegations of antisemitism at Harvard and other institutions.

As Harvard navigates these issues, the reshuffling of leadership within the task force underscores the ongoing efforts to address antisemitism on campus.

The outcome of these initiatives will have far-reaching implications for Harvard's reputation which has already faced other recent high-profile controversies.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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