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Critics say poster depicting Harvard’s Jewish president as a devil was antisemitic


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A poster at Harvard’s pro-Palestinian encampment was taken down after critics called it antisemitic because it depicted the university’s interim president, who is Jewish, as a devil. 

The crude drawing caricatured Alan Garber in red, with protrusions on either side of his head, along with a tail and webbed hands and feet, sitting on a toilet. “Alan Garbage funds genocide,” was written in black on the poster. 

“Nothing to see here, just Harvard students depicting their Jewish President with horns and a tail,” wrote Shabbos Kestenbaum, a master’s degree student at Harvard, in a post on the social media platform X that showed the poster. 

“These protestors have been following us as we walk through campus, espouse horrific antisemitism, and openly chant for ethnic genocide against Jews,” Kestenbaum added. “WHERE IS THE LEADERSHIP?!”

Harvard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Anne Spalter, parent of a Harvard student, also tweeted a photo of the sign, saying she was “seriously reconsidering the 2nd half of our almost $100K tuition for next semester while my daughter and her friends are being physically threatened on campus and the @Harvard leadership does nothing about it.” She added: “In case you don’t know, drawing horns on images of Jewish professors isn’t free speech, it’s hate speech and full-on antisemitism.” 

Some pushed back against the critics’ assertions. “How does this represent anyone being physically threatened at all? And drawing horns on a professor, however bad it is, is clearly free speech,” wrote @acher_2

So if he wasn’t Jewish it wouldn’t be racist to caricature him as the devil? But because he’s Jewish, drawing him as the devil is racist?” wrote @JCUSATX. Another, Nicholas Bray, said, “Those are very obviously ears and not horns.” 

Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine, the student group running the encampment, took the poster down in response to the criticism, according to the student-run news outlet, The Harvard Crimson

HOOP told The Crimson the poster was taken down “in an abundance of caution and sensitivity.” 

Boaz Barak, who teaches computer science and is part of Harvard’s task force on combating antisemitism, tweeted that he was “embarrassed for Harvard, not just for the antisemitism but also for the crudeness” of the image. 

“Make no mistake, while I stand by my characterization of many protesting students as good-intentioned, there is certainly antisemitism and hate among that movement,” Barak said. “Not putting it in check ultimately harms their own cause, as well as poisons the campus atmosphere for everyone else.”

After the sign was taken down, Barak tweeted that he appreciated that the protesters removed it, adding, “I and many Israelis share their goal in getting the war to stop. Especially today which is Israel’s Memorial Day.

The post Critics say poster depicting Harvard’s Jewish president as a devil was antisemitic appeared first on The Forward.