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MIT hit with lawsuit, demands from Congress for allegedly condoning rampant antisemitism

Both a congressional committee and Jewish students and alumni have accused the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of allowing and in some ways condoning hardline antisemitism in documents and a lawsuit filed late last week.

The congressional committee charged with investigating antisemitism at universities accused MIT of a systematic “failure to protect Jewish students and faculty” in the months since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and is demanding thousands of documents from the private school regarding its response to antisemitism on campus.

“We have grave concerns regarding the inadequacy of MIT’s response to antisemitism,” Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx stated in a March 8 news release.

The committee sent a letter to MIT President Sally Kornbluth requesting a mountain of documents and information regarding MIT’s response to numerous antisemitic incidents on campus in recent months.

One day prior to receiving the congressional demands, Jewish students filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against MIT that alleges a series of major antisemitism incidents has created a hostile environment.

“Jewish professors reported incidents where MIT students disrupted the academic environment and intimidated faculty by yelling outside their offices while rattling the doors. One professor described incidents where Jewish and Israeli MIT students were physically prevented from attending a class by a hostile group of pro-Hamas and anti-Israel MIT students,” states a March 7 news release from Stand With Us, the organization that filed the lawsuit.

“Jewish students attested that rather than dispersing antisemitic mobs on campus, MIT warned Jewish students to steer clear of certain areas – effectively sending Jewish and Israeli students underground at their own university – with no repercussions for the students violating school policies and creating an unsafe environment for Jewish students.”

The lawsuit asks the court to order MIT to pay monetary damages to Jewish students; fire certain staff members; expel or suspend certain students; provide education about antisemitism; and tell the MIT community that the university will “punish any conduct that discriminates against or harasses members of the Jewish community,” the Boston Herald reported.

The committee’s memo to MIT demands the school hand over any and all documents related to DEI and antisemitism, funding from Qatar, and other similar topics regarding antisemitism by March 22 or face a subpoena.

The committee also seeks police records, disciplinary memos, and information related to the funding of anti-Israel groups on campus, the New York Post reported.

“The 12-page letter, from committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC), warned MIT that 73 percent of Jewish students said they ‘did not feel comfortable publicly being Jewish, Israeli or supportive of Israel on MIT’s campus,’” the Post wrote.

The house committee subpoenaed in February similar records from Harvard University after hearings in December in which the presidents of Harvard, MIT and Penn were unable to say that calls for Jewish genocide violated university policy. Instead, the three women claimed, it depended on “context.” The presidents of Harvard and Penn have since resigned.

According to the memo from Foxx, the MIT Coalition Against Apartheid, a campus group, “has disrupted classes, harassed Jewish students, promoted violence, and violated other MIT rules in the course of conducting anti-Israel demonstrations and other activities.”

The letter cites a Nov. 9 incident on the anniversary of Kristallnacht in which coalition members blocked students from attending classes. But instead of punishing the demonstrators, MIT told Jewish students to avoid the area, The College Fix reported at the time.

“Instead of dispersing the mob or de-escalating the situation by rerouting all students from Lobby 7, Jewish students specifically were warned not to enter MIT’s front entrance due to a risk to their physical safety. The onus to protect Jewish students should not be on the students themselves,” an Israel Alliance letter regarding the incident stated.

The Tech student newspaper reported the Coalition Against Apartheid was suspended as a student organization in mid-February.

But according to a March 12 letter from the MIT Jewish Alumni Association, the coalition was nevertheless able to participate in an aggressively antisemitic manner with chanting and other protest actions during MIT’s Martin Luther King Day celebration, at which Kornbluth was a guest.

“Recent events, however, indicate that antisemitism at the Institute continues unabated, despite your declared aspiration to establish a safe and secure environment for all,” the letter states.

“It is evident that your staff—with no consequences—continues to subvert the intent of your decision to temporarily suspend CAA. Furthermore, your administration’s view of discipline and its understanding of hate speech is clearly at odds with the views of the MIT Jewish community and the global community at large,” it added.

“When, as you requested, we reached out directly to your staff to address subsequent transgressions, we were met with obfuscation, falsehoods, and hypocrisy. We wish to grow the open relationship we were led to believe you desired, but at this juncture, we see that our outreach and our fragile trust has been disrespected and frankly, broken.”

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