Feb 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Co-chair of Harvard's newly formed antisemitism task force resigns

 People walk through the gate on Harvard Yard at the Harvard University campus on June 29, 2023 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Harvard University interim president Alan Garber will replace professor Raffaella Sadun as co-chair of the school's task force on antisemitism that was formed in January, the school announced Sunday.

Why it matters: It's another setback for the group that Harvard launched as part of its response to criticism of its handling of antisemitism on campus after Claudine Gay stepped down as president last month following a contentious congressional hearing, per the The Harvard Crimson, which first reported on Sadun's abrupt resignation.

Driving the news: "Professor Sadun has expressed her desire to refocus her efforts on her research, teaching, and administrative responsibilities at HBS," Garber said in a statement provided by Harvard that thanked the Harvard Business School professor for her participation.

  • "Her insights and passion for this work have helped shape the mandate for the task force and how it can best productively advance the important work ahead," he added.
  • "She has advanced our efforts to be a stronger, more inclusive Harvard and for that we owe her our deep thanks."

What she's saying: Sadun said in a statement provided by Harvard that she's "grateful to have had the opportunity to help advance the vital work to combat antisemitism" and "will continue to support efforts to tackle antisemitism at Harvard in any way I can from my faculty position."

State of play: Officials appointed Sadun co-chair of the task force combating antisemitism alongside Derek Penslar, a professor of Jewish history, as it also launched a task force addressing anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias.

  • One of those who criticized Penslar's appointment was Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge fund manager who has been vocal about antisemitism at his alma mater.
  • Ackman wrote about Sadun's sudden resignation in a post to his 1.2 million followers on X: "The half life of a ⁦Harvard antisemitism task force member is about 60 days. I wonder what's going on."

Zoom out: The Israel-Hamas war has become a flashpoint on college campuses and contributed to an uptick in antisemitic and anti-Muslim incidents, watchdog groups say.

Go deeper: House panel threatens Harvard with subpoena in antisemitism investigation

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