A rabbi has resigned from Harvard’s antisemitism task force citing the “painfully inadequate testimony” given to Congress by university leaders who said that “context” allowed calling for the genocide of Jews.
Rabbi David Wolpe, the Anti-Defamation League’s rabbinic fellow, also cited “events on campus” where Jews are routinely seen as oppressors.
He announced on Thursday that he will step down from the antisemitism advisory committee at Harvard University amid an investigation into allegations of antisemitism at Harvard and other Ivy League universities.
Harvard President Claudine Gay was widely criticised - along with the presidents of MIT and the University of Pennsylvania - after saying “context” allowed for the calling of genocide for Jews, in testimony to Congress.
“As of today I have resigned from the antisemitism advisory committee at Harvard,” Wolpe wrote on X.
“Without rehashing all of the obvious reasons that have been endlessly adumbrated online, and with great respect for the members of the committee, the short explanation is that both events on campus and the painfully inadequate testimony reinforced the idea that I cannot make the sort of difference I had hoped.
“Still, there are several points worth making. I believe Claudine Gay to be both a kind and thoughtful person. Most of the students here wish only to get an education and a job, not prosecute ideological agendas, and there are many, many honorable, thoughtful and good people at the institution. Harvard is still a repository of extraordinary minds and important research.”
“However, the system at Harvard along with the ideology that grips far too many of the students and faculty, the ideology that works only along axes of oppression and places Jews as oppressors and therefore intrinsically evil, is itself evil. Ignoring Jewish suffering is evil. Belittling or denying the Jewish experience, including unspeakable atrocities, is a vast and continuing catastrophe. Denying Israel the self-determination as a Jewish nation accorded unthinkingly to others is endemic, and evil.”
Wolpe’s resignation came just hours before the start of Hanukkah.
“In this generation, outside of Israel, we are called to be Maccabees of a different order.
“We do not fight the actual battle but we search for the cruse of oil left behind… of course the first night was the greatest miracle — because the motivation to light the initial candle, to ensure the continuity and vitality of tradition in each generation, that is the supreme miracle. Dispute but also create. Build the institutions you value, don’t merely attack those you denigrate. We are at a moment when the toxicity of intellectual slovenliness has been laid bare for all to see. Time to kindle the first candle. Create that miracle for us and all Israel.”
Wolpe was one of eight members on Harvard’s antisemitism advisory committee. It was formed after the college was criticised for failing to condemn the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel which saw more than 1200 Israelis murdered.