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Brandeis Center files lawsuit alleging ‘antisemitic’ discrimination, harassment at Harvard

BOSTON — The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit against Harvard on Wednesday, alleging the university has not adequately addressed harassment and discrimination on campus they describe as antisemitic.

“As a recipient of federal funding, Harvard is covered by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” the lawsuit states. “It has a legal duty to provide a safe learning environment for all of its students. It also has a contractual obligation to enforce its policies to protect tuition-paying students from the very type of harassment, bullying, and discrimination that all the Brandeis Center’s and JAFE’s members have endured. Harvard is violating federal law and breaching its contractual promises.”

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court of Massachusetts to seek a jury trial, listing the Brandeis Center, JAFE and five Jewish and Israeli graduate and doctoral students. The new filing follows multiple lawsuits filed by Harvard students alleging antisemitism and an investigation by the Department of Education into the allegations since the war in Gaza broke out last fall.

The DOE also launched an investigation into a complaint filed by Muslim Legal Fund of America in February on behalf of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students who say they have been targeted.

In response to an inquiry regarding the Brandeis Center lawsuit, a Harvard spokesperson said the university “does not comment on pending litigation.”

“Harvard has and will continue to be unequivocal — in our words and actions — that antisemitism is not and will not be tolerated on our campus,” the university spokesperson said in a statement. “We remain committed to combating hate and to promoting and nurturing civil dialogue and respectful engagement.”

The lawsuit alleges a rise in incidents of discrimination and harassment during pro-Palestine demonstrations and advocacy. It lists several statements celebrating violence and the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7 on an anonymous Harvard message board and describes an incident between pro-Palestinian student protestors and a Jewish student, after which the pro-Palestinian students were investigated for assault but were not punished by the university.

The filing also refences an incident in the last school year in which a professor and teaching fellows pushed a group of students to drop a class project related to advocacy for a “Jewish democracy” and the university took no public action following findings of discrimination from an outside investigation of the incident.

The lawsuit claims Jewish students are subject to a double standard at the school.

“When Harvard is presented with incontrovertible evidence of anti-Semitic conduct, it ignores and tolerates it,” the lawsuit argues. “Harvard’s permissive posture towards anti-Semitism is the opposite of its aggressive enforcement of the same anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies to protect other minorities.”

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