The sometimes violent anti-Israel/pro-Hamas protests on many US campuses are the outcome of failed educational policies going back decades. The failure is no more pronounced than at Harvard.
I read last night that Hamas fans blocked Jewish students from entering their classes at MIT. That kind of behavior, which included disrupting classes taught by Jewish professors, sounds a lot like Germany circa 1938. Many US campuses are overrun with antisemites demanding genocide of Jews minimally in Israel and ostensibly everywhere. An unholy alliance of Islamists and liberal women to whom they would deny education and the homosexuals whom they would eagerly throw off of the nearest rooftop march together because their common enemy—the Jew—is at the apex of the intersectional bad guy hierarchy. I don’t know how a Jewish student who holed up in her dorm room goes back in a few weeks or months to the dining hall to eat with her “friends” who marched by her window with a sign demanding her death and the death of her family.
Below is one of several letters I have written to the president of my alma mater, Harvard. President Gay answered one letter but no more. President Gay was chosen to do what Harvard presidents do: raise billions and avoid controversy. She was not chosen, nor is she prepared for Harvard in crisis, where Jewish students are physically threatened, and Palestinian students and their supporters have moved beyond free speech to demanding genocide of the Jewish people. She needs to take decisive action, which she appears incapable of doing. Instead, she appointed a committee whose report will undoubtedly come well after the news cycle has moved to another subject. Her failure is not just for the students at Harvard. If she had acted decisively from day one, she could have significantly reduced campus protests throughout the US. She is like the lead pilot of the Blue Angels: college presidents look to her to know what their next move will be. She is not a leader but someone who filled in the right boxes when the time came to replace her undistinguished predecessor. She is the most recent figurehead to run what was once America’s greatest university. In the 1940s, then-President James Conant was essential in getting the Manhattan Project to its successful conclusion by ensuring that General Leslie Groves had everything he needed. The days of great Harvard presidents are long gone, ending with Derek Bok in the early 1990’s.
9 November 2023
I, like many thousands of other Harvard graduates and associates, am in receipt of your letter. Today, according to the Gregorian calendar, is the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht. That day altered my father’s life forever, when as a twelve year old boy he saw the Brown Shirts and neighbors blow up the local synagogue and the Bauer apartment above it. His father returned six weeks later from Dachau on the merit of the Iron Cross he had received for serving on the front for Germany in World War I and which I hold today as a family heirloom.
I did read your letter on Harvard’s steps to address antisemitism on campus. I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of your and your colleagues’ desire to address a pernicious and growing problem on campus. I respectfully offer that committees and analyses are not necessary to address the issues plaguing the university. Muslim students, generally through organizations such as Palestinian Students for Justice and the like, along with left-leaning organizations that have falsely accused Israel of being an apartheid state and of wantonly killing babies now for decades, have used the 10/7 pogrom as an excuse to express their hatred of Jews. The expressions “From the river to the sea” and “By any means necessary” mean exactly that which they intend: to set up a Palestinian state (where one has never existed) in the current state of Israel, and to use all means–including those graphically applied by Hamas and its supporters a month ago–against the Jewish population of Israel. This is a call for genocide, and their hatred is so intense that a) they will not condemn the barbaric acts of Hamas on Israeli civilians and b) take out their hatred on Jewish students who in and of themselves have no direct connection to Israel or its government. The student who was harassed and stopped by other Harvard students, including the current director of the Harvard Law Review, had no visible markings to suggest that he supports Israel. Does the University have to wait for a dead body floating in the Charles River before taking effective action?
The students protesting at Harvard are promoting the genocide of a people that had one-third of its members wiped out during the Holocaust. I do not know if you are aware that there are today far fewer Jews than there were in 1938. The Jewish people have never returned to the 18 million that there were on the eve of World War II. The proper action is to throw out students who expressly called for the genocide of the Jewish people, either by voice or by holding banners encouraging the same. Students may express their desire for a Palestinian state, but they may not demand the extermination of the Jewish people in order to get one. Leadership is what is needed at this hour, and if it is not forthcoming, Jews will find Harvard a place to avoid rather than celebrate. Those with hate in their hearts will have suffered nothing and will be emboldened to continue their acts and add to them. Harvard’s future as an open and welcoming university is in the balance. The time has come to act, not to await the report of a blue-ribbon committee. I am certain that there is enough CCTV footage to determine who attacked Jewish students and/or promoted genocide through his or her actions and words.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Alan J. Bauer
Leverett House 1987