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Harvard Picks Prof Who Called Israel 'Apartheid' State to Co-Chair Antisemitism Task Force

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Harvard University announced the creation of an antisemitism task force late last week, and it’s already facing intense scrutiny for choosing as its co-chair a professor who has accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and labeled the Jewish state “a regime of apartheid.”

Interim Harvard President Alan Garber named Derek Penslar, a historian and director of Harvard’s Center for Jewish Studies, as the task force’s co-leader, an appointment that quickly drew the scorn of Jewish leaders and prominent figures within the Ivy League school’s ecosystem, Jewish Insider reported.

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“Yes, we have a problem with antisemitism at Harvard, just like we have a problem with Islamophobia and how students converse with each other,” Penslar told JTA earlier in January. “The problems are real. But outsiders took a very real problem and proceeded to exaggerate its scope.”

Those comments, though, are mild in comparison to things Penslar said last year.

For a December column published in The Harvard Crimson, the university’s student-led newspaper, the professor in question argued the focus on the rise of antisemitism at Harvard has “obscured the vulnerability of pro-Palestinian students, who have faced harassment by actors outside of the university and verbal abuse on and near campus.”

In August, Penslar added his signature to a letter blatantly charging Israel with ethnic cleansing and implementing “a regime of apartheid” against Palestinians. Furthermore, the letter’s writers accused the Israeli government of implementing a “messianic, homophobic, and misogynistic agenda” and called on U.S. lawmakers to “restrict American military aid from being used in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

The backlash against Garber’s decision to appoint Penslar was swift.





The creation of the antisemitism task force — accompanied by a similar group combatting Islamophobia — comes weeks after embattled Harvard President Claudine Gay resigned, according to CBN News.

Gay was facing allegations of plagiarism as well as fierce criticism over testimony she gave before the U.S. Congress, during which she refused to state calls on the university campus for the genocide of Jewish people would clearly violate the school’s code of conduct.

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About The Author

Tré Goins-Phillips Headshot

Tré Goins-Phillips serves as a host and content creator for CBN News. He hosts the weekly “Faith vs. Culture” show and co-hosts “Quick Start,” a news podcast released every weekday morning. Born and raised in Virginia, Tré now lives along the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he has built his career, often traveling to meet and interview fascinating cultural influencers and entertainers. After working with brands like TheBlaze and Independent Journal Review, Tré began his career at CBN News in 2018 and has a particular passion for bridging the chasm between the secular world and the church