- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2023

Harvard University has yet to reprimand publicly a prominent faculty member who was found four months ago to have discriminated against Jewish Israeli students — but hailed him last month as a civil rights hero.

Now the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law is disclosing the incident and demanding immediate action on Harvard’s commitment in June to ensure the violations “are addressed fully and do not recur.”

“Harvard, it seems, has no genuine intent to address the anti-Semitism on its campus, choosing instead to publicly celebrate a professor who recently subjected Jewish and Israeli students to bias and discrimination,” Brandeis said Monday in a “legal warning” to Harvard general counsel Diane Lopez that was shared with The Washington Times.

The letter said an independent investigator found in June that Marshall Ganz, a senior lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, violated the school’s anti-discrimination and free-speech policies in his treatment of three Jewish Israeli students during the spring semester.

The students enrolled in Mr. Ganz’s “Organizing: People, Power, Change” course and proposed doing a project on strengthening support for “Israel’s liberal and Jewish democracy, being a cultural, economic and security lighthouse.”

“But, as you know, this purpose was dismissed as illegitimate by Professor Ganz, who demanded they change it, and subjected them to anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias and discrimination when they refused,” Brandeis said.

SEE ALSO: Nonprofit quits Harvard over leadership’s attitude to student groups’ statement on Hamas attack

An external investigation by Allyson Kurker found that Mr. Ganz told the students to change their topic “because other students and teaching fellows ‘objected to the premise of Israel as a Jewish democracy,’” the letter said, quoting from the investigation.

Mr. Ganz also “compared the Students’ purpose to Christian White supremacy to demonstrate that their claim to ‘Jewish democracy’ was ‘contradictory,’” and gave “preferential treatment” to Arab and Muslim students, whom he viewed as “oppressed by Israel,” the investigation concluded.

“Professor Ganz did not deny this; indeed, he actually doubled down on it when interviewed, telling the investigator ‘that the Students’ description of Israel as a Jewish democracy … was similar to ‘talking about a White supremacist state,’” the center said.

The investigation found the professor’s treatment “created a hostile learning environment for the students based on their Israeli nationality and Jewish ethnicity and ancestry,” in what Brandeis described as a violation of federal law.

Douglas Elmendorf, then-dean of the Harvard Kennedy School, told Mr. Ganz and the three students in a June 15 letter that he would consult with faculty colleagues before taking action, a process he said should take “only a few weeks.”

The students had three requests: an apology from Mr. Ganz, an assurance from the professor that he would treat Israeli and Jewish students with the same respect as others, and mandatory faculty training in antisemitism.

Four months later, the students are still waiting. Last month, however, the Harvard Gazette, the “official news website for Harvard University,” published a glowing profile of the 80-year-old Mr. Ganz focused on his social justice activism during the Civil Rights Era.

“While hardly a straight line, Ganz’s career trajectory from activist to organized-labor scholar follows a kind of logic rooted in his childhood as the son of a rabbi and a teacher who imparted lasting lessons about race, equality, and social justice,” the Sept. 26 article read.

Brandeis retorted that the “professor is no civil rights champion when it comes to minorities he personally finds distasteful, namely, Jewish Israelis. He is in fact a civil rights violator.”

Before stepping down, Mr. Elmendorf wrote to the students “personally apologizing for Ganz’s policy violations, and advising them that the School was taking ‘certain personnel actions’ that could not be disclosed and ‘organizing sessions for all faculty members regarding difficult conversations in class among students with different perspectives,’” Brandeis said.

“The Students — and the Brandeis Center — appreciate that HKS has acknowledged the nature of Professor Ganz’s wrongdoing,” the center said. “We are nevertheless concerned that HKS has made no public statement or attempted to correct the hostile environment that continues to exist on campus.”

Harvard has been blasted for its cautious response to pro-Hamas campus activism since the Palestinian militant group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which included a letter from 33 student groups blaming the Jewish state for the terrorist raid that left more than 1,400 Israeli civilians dead.

Critics include the Wexner Foundation, which cut ties over what it called a “weak and ambiguous” reaction to the activism. More than 150 Harvard faculty members blasted the administration for drawing a “false equivalency between attacks on noncombatants and self-defense against those atrocities.”

Harvard President Claudine Gay announced Friday the creation of an antisemitism advisory board to “frame an agenda and strategy for combating antisemitism.”

“Antisemitism has a very long and shameful history at Harvard,” Ms. Gay said at a Harvard Hillel Shabbat dinner. “For years, this University has done too little to confront its continuing presence. No longer.”

The Brandeis Center said that Harvard’s foot-dragging on the Ganz situation “has only emboldened the student groups who are now celebrating Hamas’ atrocities.”

“Professor Ganz’s speech and conduct were anti-Semitic. And the celebration of Hamas atrocities is anti-Semitic as well as unconscionable,” the Brandeis letter reads. “The University has contributed to these expressions of anti-Semitism by remaining silent, in contrast to the many times it has used its voice to castigate campus speech that reflects hate against other minority groups.”

The Washington Times has reached out to Harvard and Mr. Ganz for comment.

Mr. Ganz holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School and a doctoral degree in sociology, according to his online bio.

“As Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing and Civil Society at the Kennedy School of Government, Marshall Ganz teaches, researches, and writes on leadership, narrative, strategy and organization in social movements, civic associations, and politics,” the Harvard bio reads.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2024 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide