Thursday, Feb 29, 2024

Ivy Leagues Hit with Lawsuits Over ‘Rampant Anti-Semitism’  

 

Ivy League universities are facing unprecedented lawsuits by Jewish students turning to the courts for protection from rabid anti-Semitism after exhausting all avenues at their respective schools.

Jew-haters at these once-revered institutions seem to have ripped pages out of the same playbook.

UC-Berkeley University was sued in November by the Louis Brandeis Center over allegations of systemic anti-Semitic discrimination, on behalf of Jewish students fearful of identifying themselves in court papers.

In December, Jewish students Eyal Jakoby and Jordan Davis brought a lawsuit against the University of Pennsylvania over charges that it had become “an incubation lab for virulent anti-Jewish hatred, harassment, and discrimination.”

Jewish Harvard students, including graduate student Shabbos Kestenbaum, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit last week against Harvard for serving as “a bastion of rampant anti-Semitism,” and abandoning Jewish students to an onslaught of bullying and abuse.

The three lawsuits describe different campuses but all allege a common theme: virulent anti-Semitism among students and faculty has become normalized. It is relentless, intolerable and given a pass by university officials. Given this situation, Jewish students fear for their safety, and indeed, their lives.

 

‘To All Those on the Receiving End of Bigotry…’

In a 79-page Complaint against Harvard, Kestenbaum and Students Against Anti-Semitism (SAA), allege that Harvard University has become a hotbed of anti-Jewish hatred and harassment. This places the school in flagrant violation of Jewish students’ civil rights under Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, the lawsuit says.

“For too long, Harvard has allowed, and in many cases, promoted, anti-Semitism on campus. This lawsuit gives a voice for all those who have been on the receiving end of hatred, bigotry and discrimination,” said Kestenbaum, who is also president and founder of the school’s Jewish Student Association.

“We turned to the courts only after it was clear there was no other recourse,” Kestenbaum explained in a Fox and Friends appearance. “We tried to engage with deans to enforce the schools’ own rules against anti-Semitic harassment but got nowhere.”

The graduate student went on to describe scenes at Harvard when pro-Hamas elements commandeered the campus, turning it into a platform to bash Israel and Jews in front of “thousands of students.”  He described an ominous university landscape “where swastikas are painted all over the place, and there is no condemnation or any type of action coming from the authorities.”

Brought by the influential Kasowitz Benson Torres law firm, the Complaint draws a shocking picture of pro-Hamas student mobs occupying Harvard student halls, libraries and other university buildings, sometimes for days and even weeks, while calling for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel.

The plaintiffs allege that university officials employ a “double standard” whereby they protect other groups from discrimination and harassment, but ignore the pleas for protection from Jewish students who report being “threatened, physically confronted, spat upon and abused” in outbursts of anti-Semitic bigotry.

The suit says the students “are acutely aware that, solely because of their Jewish identities, Harvard views and treats them as second-class citizens, undeserving of the protection it affords non-Jewish students.”

Even worse, the administration “hires anti-Semitic professors who support anti-Jewish violence and spread anti-Semitic propaganda and incitement.” Professors often cancel classes to allow students to attend pro-Palestine rallies. Faculty members even feted a mob of pro-Palestinian demonstrators “with burritos and candy” during a takeover of a Harvard building, the Complaint charges.

Harvard has been aware of its anti-Semitism problem for years, but its policy of not just tolerating but enabling Jew-hatred has turned the campus into a severely hostile environment for its Jewish students, the brief says.

This situation has coincided with a dramatic decrease in Harvard’s Jewish student population over the past decade. In 2013, Jews comprised approximately twenty-five percent of the undergraduate student body. In 2023, that number has fallen to less than ten percent—a drop of nearly sixty percent in a single decade.

This suggests a deliberate effort by Harvard to minimize its Jewish student population, the lawsuit says. (Perhaps it also signifies an awareness among Jewish college applicants that it may not be the wisest course to go where one is unwanted.)

 

Anti-Semitism in Harvard Soared After Oct. 7

“Since October 7, 2023, when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and slaughtered, tortured, burned, and mutilated 1,200 people—including infants, children, and the elderly—anti-Semitism at Harvard has been particularly severe and pervasive,” plaintiffs Kestenbaum and fellow members of SAA claim in their lawsuit against Harvard.

“Mobs of pro-Hamas students and faculty have marched by the hundreds through Harvard’s campus, shouting vile anti-Semitic slogans and calling for death to Jews and Israel,” the brief continues. “Those mobs have occupied buildings, classrooms, libraries, student lounges, plazas, and study halls, often for days or weeks at a time, calling for violence against Jews and harassing and assaulting them on campus.”

The plaintiffs describe a Harvard event where convicted Arab terrorists and attempted murderers Marah Bakir and Shorouq Dwaiat were invited as the featured speakers.

Bakir had been sentenced to eight years in prison for her October 2015 attempted murder of a police officer in Jerusalem, and the latter to sixteen years in prison for her premeditated stabbing of a Jewish man, and attempt to stab another in Jerusalem on October 7, 2015.

Both of these terrorists were among those Israel released in late November 2023 in exchange for innocent Israeli civilians captured on October 7 and held in captivity by Hamas.

Kestenbaum emailed publicity about the upcoming event to then President Gay, Dean Holland, and the Antisemitism Advisory Group, stating that inviting the convicted terrorists “sends a clear, dangerous message to Jews on campus.” He asked Harvard to suspend Harvard BDS leaders, “disavow anti-Jewish rhetoric, and protect Jewish students.”

Harvard did not respond.

 

Editor of Harvard Law Review Filmed Accosting Jewish Student

In an especially disturbing incident in December, a Jewish student wearing a yarmulka was seen on video footage being surrounded and restrained by protesters blocking his path. The hooligans waved their kaffiyehs in his face and hollered “shame” as the Jewish student tried in vain to get past them. He was jostled to the right and left until he lost his balance.

One of the protestors caught on the video physically accosting the student was Ibrahim Bharmal, an editor on the Harvard Law Review. “At the time of this filing,” the brief notes, “Bharmal has faced no discipline for his assault—he is still a Harvard Law student, still on the Harvard Law Review, and still employed by Harvard as a teaching fellow.”

During raucous pro-Hamas rallies on campus, Jewish students have been forced to seek refuge inside buildings where they hid, as protesters raged and called for a Jewish genocide, according to the suit. [See Sidebar]

“What is most striking about all of this is Harvard’s abject failure and refusal to lift a finger to halt or deter this outrageous anti-Semitic conduct and penalize the students and faculty who perpetrate it,” the lawsuit says.

 

UPenn Hate Fest

At the University of Pennsylvania, the anti-Semitic landscape is eerily similar.

“Jewish students are routinely subjected to vile and threatening anti-Semitic slurs and chants,” plaintiffs Eyal Jakoby and Jordan Davis attest in their Complaint. “They must traverse classrooms, dormitories and buildings vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti… From the start of the 2023 semester, the abuse and intimidation have steadily increased.”

As an example, the lawsuit details a two-day anti-Jewish hate fest in September 2023, sponsored by the university and its professors and deceptively dubbed the “Palestine Literature Festival.” Among the featured guests were “virulent anti-Semites, including people who have asserted that “most Jews are evil” and that Jews are “European colonizers,” the lawsuit charges.

In an open letter, more than 2,000 Penn alumni, affiliates, and trustees expressed “deep concerns” about the hate-festival, the lawsuit recounts. The letter urged Penn to do “all within its power to distance itself from the event’s anti-Semitic speakers,” make clear that anti-Semitism violates the university’s values, and take proactive steps to ensure that Jewish students are safe.”

UPenn’s administration, led by Liz Magill (who resigned last month amid fallout from her disastrous congressional testimony) “ignored the concerns of Jewish students and incredibly, thumbed its nose at the pleas of Penn’s own trustees and alumni to distance itself” from the odious event, the lawsuit states.

As one trustee stated upon resigning in disgust, UPenn “failed us through an embrace of anti-Semitism, a failure to stand for justice, and complete negligence in the defense of its own students’ well-being. . . .”

Among the most hostile campuses in the country for Jewish students, Penn is now under federal investigation for anti-Jewish discrimination, notes the brief.

 

Turbocharged Anti-Semitism

The October 7 massacre “turbocharged antisemitism at Penn,” charges the lawsuit. “Emboldened by years of UPenn’s tolerance and enabling of antisemitism, and deliberate indifference to Jewish students’ complaints, Penn students and faculty openly support and extol Hamas’s atrocities.”

“Only two days before this filing, on December 3, 2023, the brief recounts, “an anti-Semitic student mob rampaged across Penn’s campus chanting for the destruction of Israel and its citizens. After terrorizing plaintiffs and other Penn students, the mob headed to Center City to attack an Israeli-owned restaurant.

In contrast to Penn, which permitted the mob to assemble, deface buildings, and scream genocidal chants on campus, Pennsylvania Governor Joshua Shapiro, and several Pennsylvania members of Congress, immediately condemned the event as a “blatant act of antisemitism.”

“Penn’s conduct in enabling systemic antisemitism on its campus constitutes an egregious violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” the lawsuit states. “Penn must now be compelled through injunctive relief to implement effective and far-reaching remedial measures, including termination of deans, administrators, professors, and other employees responsible for anti-Semitic abuse, whether because they engaged in it or permitted it.”

 

Title VI Violators

Title VI prohibits the allocation of federal funds to universities that are found to be in violation of its mandates. These laws outlaw discrimination on the basis of race, color or ethnicity in institutions accepting government funding.

In December 2019, President Trump expanded the meaning of “discrimination” to explicitly include anti-Semitism. He issued “Executive Order 13899 on Combating Anti-Semitism,” directing the executive branch to enforce Title VI against discrimination “rooted in anti-Semitism as vigorously as against all other forms of discrimination prohibited by Title VI.”

Universities have unfortunately done little to implement Trump’s executive order, and campus anti-Semitism has significantly escalated. Despite blatant violations of Title VI, Harvard and other Ivy League universities continue to accept millions of dollars in federal funding.

The current lawsuits over allegations of egregious civil rights violations will test the effectiveness and enforcement power of former Trump’s executive order and Title VI mandates.

 

*

 

According to attorney Marc Kasowitz, the skyrocketing anti-Semitic discrimination confronting Jewish students at Harvard is playing out in a range of equally deplorable scenarios at MIT, Stanford and Yale. The Kasowitz Benson Torres team will be representing Jewish students in lawsuits brought against these schools as well, the firm has announced.

In a phone conversation with Yated in early December, Kasowitz, reflecting on investigations conducted by his firm at the aforementioned universities, noted a strikingly similar pattern of anti-Semitic discrimination and harassment in all of them.

These institutions for decades “have permitted acts of anti-Semitic hatred and discrimination to fester on their campuses, constituting egregious civil rights violations. They are acutely aware of this,” Kasowitz said, “but adopt a policy of indifference, belittling or dismissing the complaints of Jewish students which emboldens the perpetrators.”

“Our reason for bringing this lawsuit is to force a change in the practice of universities abandoning Jewish students, refusing to protect them against discrimination by students as well as faculty.”

Litigation is necessary, the attorney added, because “no one is holding [university officials] accountable. These institutions will not correct their deep-seated antisemitism problem voluntarily.”

The lawsuit demands the suspension or expulsion of any student engaged in anti-Semitism and, as in the lawsuit against UPenn, the termination of all deans, professors and faculty members who have engaged in anti-Semitic abuse.

The suit also demands the university decline and return any donations “implicitly or explicitly conditioned on the hiring or promotion of professors who espouse antisemitism, or the inclusion of anti-Semitic coursework or curricula.

Additionally, the students are seeking damages “for lost or diminished educational opportunities,” amid campus-wide upheavals and chaos caused by allowing anti-Semitic and pro-Hamas mobs to dominate the university.

***

The Day Harvard Surrendered Its Campus to The Mob

The lawsuit against Harvard describes a scene of anarchy on campus as Palestinian groups on December 19 marched across the campus, invading the Science Center, several Student Centers, the Harvard Kennedy courtyard, and Harvard Square.

Using drumsticks, buckets and megaphones to chant “from the river to the sea,” bash Israel over “genocide,” and demand that Harvard “divest from Israeli apartheid,” the mob disrupted classes and created a deafening uproar.

“Jewish students fled for their safety, with some removing Jewish identifying garb to avoid attack,” the brief recounts.

During the chaos, five of the Jewish plaintiffs were in a study room on the first floor of Harvard Law’s main building, attending a discussion session with Jason Greenblatt, a former presidential assistant during the Trump administration.

At the session, the lawsuit details, students heard drumming outside the study room and found a mob at the entrance to Harvard Law with a giant banner reading “Stop the Genocide in Gaza.”

The plaintiffs testify that Harvard security officers on duty took no action against the hundreds of protesters, including non-Harvard students, who infiltrated the building. The group stormed Harvard Law’s main building and blocked the hallway outside the study room where the plaintiffs and Greenblatt were hiding.

“Fearing a violent attack, students in the study room removed kippot and any other sign of Jewish identity or hid under desks,” the brief relates.

Cowering In their Office

As the mob receded, the students hurried to the university deans’ offices to report on the riot and encountered a pathetic response. The deans and their staff had locked themselves into their offices and told the students to wait in another room.

After a few minutes, “Dean of Students Stephen L. Ball and Assistant Dean Monica Monroe met with the students for thirty seconds and, without giving them any opportunity to speak, stated that they were “sorry” and that they would look into the incident,” the lawsuit states.

Shabbos Kestenbaum encountered the roving mob as he was leaving his class at Harvard Kennedy. Having moved on from the Harvard Law building, the mob now blocked the exit to the Harvard Kennedy building and shouted at anyone trying to leave, “From the river to the sea!” and other chants calling for the destruction of Israel and genocide of Jews.

Kestenbaum says he was shaken by this experience, which has made him fear for his safety on campus.

The brief goes on to recap the congressional testimony by former Harvard president Claudine Gay, and how watching her speak, Kestenbaum was appalled that Harvard’s president refused to state under oath that calling for the genocide of his people violated Harvard policy.

Kestenbaum said he considered leaving Harvard because the school’s official position that calling for the murder of Jews was not prohibited “made him feel physically endangered.”

Compounding his concern, the 30 pro-Palestinian and pro-Hamas student groups that signed a letter supporting Hamas terrorists and laying the blame on Israel for the bloodthirsty massacres, represent thousands of students that had proved mob rule could win the day. How should a Jewish student feel under the circumstances?

Kestenbaum’s decision to identify himself as one of the plaintiffs meant heightening the risk of being targeted by Jew-haters. Like other Jewish students in similar lawsuits, he chose to take the risk, pitting himself and fellow plaintiffs against a powerful institution in a quest for justice.

He apparently hopes that the courts can eliminate mob rule in Harvard and restore an anti-Semitic jungle to its intended role as an institution of higher learning where Jewish students will be safe.

Even the most optimistic view, however, cannot change the growing perception of Harvard and other Ivy League institutions as centers of moral degeneracy, increasingly bankrolled and controlled by massive donations from Middle Eastern regimes.

***

‘Free Expression’ at Harvard

“At the heart of Harvard’s double standard is its discriminatory application of free expression and other principles,” the lawsuit contends. “Harvard’s campus is a safe space for students of all protected minority groups other than Jews.”

The brief goes on to expose a pattern of staggering hypocrisy whereby the university permits hardcore aggression against Jewish students while outlawing “micro-aggression” (seemingly benign behavior that hurts someone’s feelings) against non-Jewish students.

“Harvard permits students and faculty to advocate the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel,” while it warns students against “sizeism,” “fatphobia,” “ageism,” racism, or “ableism” (new-age terms for any action that makes a person feel belittled for his size, weight, color, lack of ability, etc.)

These “micro-aggressions” are prohibited because they “contribute to an environment that perpetrates violence,” the university’s code of conduct preaches.

Laugh or cry?

 

 

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