Harvard graduate student suing university for ‘rewarding antisemitism,’ ignoring pleas of Jewish students

Harvard graduate student suing university for ‘rewarding antisemitism,’ ignoring pleas of Jewish students

A Harvard graduate student is suing the university over its handling of anti-Israel agitators and the rise in antisemitism on campus, which he describes as a “feature” of the Ivy League school.

Harvard Divinity School student Shabbos Kestenbaum addressed the university’s “out-of-control” antisemitism in a scathing op-ed, where he accused the university of dismissing safety concerns of Jewish students while caving to an anti-Israel mob that has expressed anti-democratic, anti-American, anti-capitalist and antisemitic views.

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“It’s a damning condemnation, and it’s also a damning indictment that for a Jewish American in 2024 to receive equity, equality or justice, they have to go to Congress, and they have to file lawsuits because we are not able to get that at our own university,” Kestenbaum said Wednesday on “America Reports.”

The Orthodox-Jewish student made the comment moments before testifying in front of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government about his allegations against the school. 

He told Fox News that interim President Alan Garber has failed to meaningfully enforce any policy or hold people accountable for antisemitism and has repeatedly looked the other way as hundreds of students violated an unprecedented number of school policies in the past several weeks.

“If Harvard wanted to change, if they wanted to combat antisemitism, they would’ve done it already,” Kestenbaum said. “There is nothing preventing them today from implementing policies that will combat antisemitism and discipline antisemitic students and professors, but time and time again, they’ve shown they are either unable or unwilling to do anything to help their Jewish students.”

Kestenbaum accused the school of having a double standard when it comes to protecting its Jewish students. On Tuesday, Harvard announced that it had agreed to some concessions for anti-Israel agitators in return for them dismantling the protest encampment ahead of the upcoming commencement ceremony. 

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Garber said that in keeping with his “commitment to ongoing and reasoned dialogue,” he planned to meet with students to hear their perspectives on “academic matters related to longstanding conflicts in the Middle East.” 

Kestenbaum said he finds it “absurd” that the school is “rewarding bad behavior” while the voices of Jewish students continue to be ignored by school faculty. He previously told Fox News Digital that administrators have not responded to a single one of his several dozen emails and have refused to meet with Jewish students.

“We had these Harvard Hamas homeless shelters on campus for the past three weeks where students violated school policy chanting calls of ethnic genocide against Jewish people, vandalizing school property,” he said. “And Alan Garber, the president of Harvard University, just yesterday said that he’s going to negotiate with them and he’s going to give them a seat at the table so that they can talk about divesting from Israel, they can talk about having a Palestinian study center at Harvard.”

“As a Jewish student, I’ve been wanting for months to talk with the president, to talk with my dean, Marla Frederick. So I guess the only way that I can be heard, and I can be seen is if I violate school policy… “

“They are rewarding antisemitism,” Kestenbaum continued. “It is so unacceptable.”

In his op-ed, Kestenbaum wrote how he never expected to be taking legal action against the same Ivy League university he was once eager to attend.

“Never would I have imagined that I’d need to fight for my right to exist on campus. Never would I have thought that I’d have to sue Harvard to be treated as an equal,” he wrote.

He told Fox News co-anchor John Roberts that his experience and that of Jewish students on campuses across the United States has made him fearful about the future of the country.

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“Harvard purports to train the next generation of American leaders: presidents, politicians, thought leaders,” Kestenbaum said. “If my classmates, if my professors are those next-generation leaders, we are at a very, very scary point in our country, because it’s not just antisemitism — they’re anti-American.” 

Harvard filed a motion in April to dismiss the suit. Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton told the Harvard Crimson at the time that “Harvard is committed to combatting antisemitism and ensuring that our Jewish students, faculty, staff, and alumni know they are safe, valued, and embraced in our community.” 

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