US congressional panel asks to see years of antisemitism complaints in Harvard probe

House Education Committee gives university 2 weeks to provide all reports of incidents on campus since January 2021 targeting ‘Jews, Israelis, Israel, Zionists, or Zionism’

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters gather at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14, 2023. (Joseph Prezioso / AFP)
Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters gather at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14, 2023. (Joseph Prezioso / AFP)

A US House of Representatives panel on Tuesday asked Harvard University for a list of documents in relation to a probe on antisemitism at the school, and gave the school two weeks to produce the records.

Republican Representative Virginia Foxx, who chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee, sent a letter to Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Penny Pritzker and interim President Alan Garber requesting the documents.

Harvard and other US colleges have simmered with tension over responses to the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and Israel’s subsequent offensive against it in the Gaza Strip.

Foxx said the panel, which last month also opened a review of Harvard’s handling of allegations of plagiarism by its then-president, wanted documents on all reports of antisemitic incidents on campus since January 2021, disciplinary processes to address allegations of hate and bias, and Harvard’s response to recent pro-Palestinian protests and activities.

The documents requested include any list of “posts by Harvard students, faculty, staff and other Harvard affiliates on Sidechat and other social media platforms targeting Jews, Israelis, Israel, Zionists, or Zionism.”

A Harvard spokesperson said the university was reviewing the letter and will be in touch with the committee over its request.

The House committee, in its letter, cited the oversight powers of Congress “derived from the US Constitution. “Under House Rule X, the Committee has legislative and oversight jurisdiction over ‘education or labor generally,'” the letter said.

Then-Harvard president Claudine Gay, left, speaks as University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill listens, during a hearing of the House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2023 in Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

The committee, in its letter to Harvard last month over its plagiarism probe, had noted that “federal funding to Harvard is conditioned upon the school’s adherence to the standards of a recognized accreditor,” and the need to show that it “works to prevent cheating and plagiarism.”

Some critics of Israel, its control of territory internationally recognized as Palestinian, and its isolation of the Gaza Strip, have said they risk being unfairly branded if criticism of Israel’s policies were labeled antisemitic. Others like the World Jewish Congress argue that anti-Zionism is antisemitic because it seeks to deny Jewish people “the right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland.”

Claudine Gay resigned as president of Harvard last week following the allegations of plagiarism and backlash over her congressional testimony on antisemitism. Gay and two other university presidents who also testified had declined to give a definitive “yes” or “no” answer to a question on whether calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their schools’ codes of conduct regarding bullying and harassment, saying it would have to be balanced against free-speech protections. University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill also resigned following the congressional hearing.

Rights advocates note that antisemitism and Islamophobia have risen sharply in the US since October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians. At least 240 other people of all ages were abducted and taken as hostages into Gaza.

Israel responded by vowing to destroy the terror group, remove it from power in Gaza, and free the hostages.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said Monday the war death toll has climbed to 23,084 people, while the injury toll has risen to 58,926 injured.

The ministry does not differentiate between Palestinian civilians and combatants and includes those killed by errant rockets launched by terror groups in Gaza.

Israel said last week that it has killed 8,500 Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.

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