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Co-chair of Harvard University task force on antisemitism resigns amid concerns about inaction

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The co-chairperson of Harvard University’s talk force on antisemitism has resigned amid concerns that the prestigious Ivy League school would not act on the group’s recommendations, the Harvard Crimson reported.

Harvard Business School professor Raffaella Sadun resigned as co-chair of the presidential task force on antisemitism after “repeatedly considering stepping down because she felt the University would not commit to acting on its suggestions,” the university newspaper reported, citing a source familiar with the situation.

“Sadun sought a commitment from the University that they would act on the task force’s recommendations, in advance of any being issued, instead of treating them as optional advice,” the newspaper reported.

“A person close to Sadun said she ultimately decided to step down from the task force because its mandate did not include the swift implementation of measures to combat antisemitism,” the newspaper reported.

Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi, the founding president of Harvard Chabad, told The Crimson that Sadun had been frustrated about the task force for some time.

Sources spoke to The Crimson on the condition of anonymity to discuss details about Sadun’s sudden departure as co-chair.

Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain declined to comment on Sadun’s frustrations with the task force, the newspaper reported. Sadun did not respond to multiple requests for comment Sunday evening about her decision to step down.

Interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber said in a statement to the Crimson about Sadun’s resignation that she had “expressed her desire to refocus her efforts on her research, teaching and administrative responsibilities at HBS.”

“I am extremely appreciative of Professor Sadun’s participation in the task force over the past weeks,” Garber wrote. “Her insights and passion for this work have helped shape the mandate for the task force and how it can best productively advance the important work ahead.”

Sadun is the second Harvard staffer to resign from a group assembled to combat antisemitism at the Ivy League school, the Crimson reported.

Rabbi David J. Wolpe resigned from his position on an antisemitism advisory committee established by former Harvard President Claudine Gay on Dec. 7, the newspaper reported. Wolpe, whose resignation came days after Gay’s congressional testimony, wrote in a post on X that he stepped down because he could not “make the sort of difference I had hoped.”

Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill A. Ackman, a Harvard alumnus who has emerged as one of Harvard’s most vocal detractors since Oct. 7, appeared to reference Wolpe’s resignation in a post on X about Sadun’s decision to step down, the Crimson reported.

“The half life of a ⁦@Harvard⁩ antisemitism task force member is about 60 days,” Ackman wrote. “I wonder what’s going on.”

Sadun served in her role as co-chair for fewer than 40 days, according to the Crimson. Wolpe sat on Gay’s advisory committee for less than a month.

Sadun’s resignation occurred as Harvard is grappling with reports and concerns of growing antisemitism on its campus.

Last week, a group of Harvard University alumni filed a federal lawsuit in Massachusetts U.S. District Court claiming that “rampant antisemitism” is devaluing their degrees. According to the lawsuit, Harvard has, over several months, failed to address, prevent and rectify the “prevalence of antisemitism, hate, and discrimination on campus.”

“The value of a Harvard degree has been significantly diminished, rendering it functionally damaged in the professional and academic spheres,” the lawsuit states.

Also last week, Harvard began investigating an antisemitic cartoon posted on a social media account associated with faculty and staff, the Crimson reported. The post was reportedly shared by the group, ‘Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine.’

Earlier this month, Congress subpoenaed top Harvard University officials, saying the Ivy League school has failed to produce requested documents for a federal probe into antisemitism at the university.

Last month, embattled Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned from her position as leader of the Ivy League school following weeks of campus turmoil that included plagiarism accusations and backlash over antisemitism testimony.

In October, amid mounting pressure from alumni and others, Gay condemned “the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas” in Israel, days after student organizations at the school signed a controversial joint statement holding Israelis responsible for all recent violence in that country.

In a statement at the time, Gay distanced herself and university leadership from the students’ statement which drew harsh criticism from congressional leaders and others, including Congressmen Seth Moulton and Jake Auchincloss, who are both Harvard alumni.

Three dozen student organizations at Harvard signed a joint statement holding “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”

Tensions escalated on Harvard’s campus, and on other campuses nationwide, after more than 1,550 people were killed dead and thousands more were wounded after Hamas launched surprise attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

Earlier this month, the Department of Education launched a discrimination investigation into a complaint that the school failed to protect Muslim and Palestinian students.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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