A Harvard professor who was appointed to the Presidential Task Force on Combating Antisemitism allegedly referred to Israel as a “regime of apartheid” in a letter written in August.
A professor of Jewish history named Derek Penslar was among hundreds of academics who signed an open letter denouncing Israel. Interim Harvard president Alan Garber recently appointed Penslar to chair the antisemitism task force.
The letter expresses that as long as Palestinians continue to live under a regime of apartheid, there can be no democracy for Jews in Israel.
Antisemites who seek to destroy the world’s sole Jewish state often use the accusation that Israel is a “regime of apartheid” to justify their actions. Penslar, however, has also spoken out against anti-Israel movements like the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
In addition, the letter states that Israel has become more right-wing and fallen victim to the current government’s messianic, homophobic, and misogynistic agenda in the past few years, and it demands that American lawmakers restrict American military aid from being utilized in the so-called “Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
In addition to coordinating faculty members to support outgoing Harvard president Claudine Gay—who stepped down earlier this month amid antisemitism scandals, a disastrous testimony before Congress, and a slew of plagiarism accusations—Penslar had previously organized faculty members to defend Gay.
Furthermore, the task group was formed to investigate “the root causes” of antisemitism at Harvard. It was created in response to criticism directed at Gay for failing to address the question of whether it is acceptable to advocate for the genocide of Jews on campus during the congressional hearing.
Former Harvard president Larry Summers, in response to Penslar’s chair appointment, said that he had lost faith in the resolve and competence of the Harvard Corporation and Harvard administration to preserve Harvard as an environment where Jews and Israelis can thrive.