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Garber Announces Memberships of Harvard Task Forces on Antisemitism, Anti-Muslim and Anti-Arab Bias

Interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber announced the full memberships of the dual presidential task forces on antisemitism and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias on Sunday.
Interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber announced the full memberships of the dual presidential task forces on antisemitism and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias on Sunday. By Claire Yuan
By Tilly R. Robinson and Neil H. Shah, Crimson Staff Writers

Updated February 25, 2024, at 9:40 p.m.

Interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 announced the full memberships of Harvard’s dual task forces on antisemitism and on anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias in a University-wide email Sunday evening.

Garber initially announced the task forces on Jan. 19, along with the names of two co-chairs for each committee.

The Sunday update on the task forces came minutes after The Crimson reported Harvard Business School professor Raffaella Sadun had resigned from the antisemitism task force. Garber initially appointed Sadun to be a co-chair of the group.

Harvard Law School professor Jared A. Ellias will replace Sadun as the antisemitism task force’s second co-chair alongside Harvard professor Derek J. Penslar. Garber wrote in his email that Sadun “has decided to refocus her efforts on her research, teaching, and administrative responsibilities.”

Sadun’s resignation is just the latest setback for Garber’s antisemitism task force, which received intense national scrutiny upon its formation over Penslar’s appointment as co-chair.

Penslar came under fire over past statements that critics said downplayed the presence of antisemitism at Harvard. The intense criticism pushed Penslar to consider resigning, but he stayed on after an outpouring of support from Harvard colleagues and Jewish Studies scholars.

Sadun’s decision to step down also follows Rabbi David J. Wolpe’s resignation from a now-defunct antisemitism advisory group formed by former Harvard President Claudine Gay.

Days after Gay’s controversial congressional testimony, Wolpe announced his decision to step down from the advisory committee in a post on X — which Sadun reshared on her account at the time.

Garber also named a new co-chair of the anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias task force in his message on Sunday.

Ali S.A. Asani ’77, a professor of Middle Eastern Studies, will be the group’s third co-chair. Asani joins Harvard School of Public Health professor Wafaie W. Fawzi and Harvard Kennedy School professor Asim Ijaz Khwaja — whose appointments were previously announced.

University Professor Danielle S. Allen is notably the only member to serve on both task forces. Both groups will also be advised by Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Sherri A. Charleston, Associate Provost for Student Affairs Robin Glover, and a University attorney.

The full membership lists of the task forces are shown below:

Harvard Law School lecturer Ara Gershengorn, the University attorney who will advise the antisemitism task force, is the aunt of Harvard Hillel President Nathan B. Gershengorn ’26. Nadir S. Ahmed will as serve as the University attorney adviser for the task force on anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias.

The task forces will also include student members. Nim Ravid ’25 and Erica F. Newman-Corre ’19, a third-year HLS student, will serve on the antisemitism task force. Jana Amin ’25 will serve on the anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias task force, with further student members “to be determined.”

Ravid, the College student, is the only member of Gay’s antisemitism advisory group who will also serve on Garber’s antisemitism task force this spring. The group shared its recommendations for combatting antisemitism with the University’s administration before it disbanded.

The group’s recommendations have not been made public.

Harvard Divinity School student Shabbos “Alexander” Kestenbaum — the only named plaintiff among six students who filed a federal lawsuit alleging Harvard failed to address antisemitism on its campus — criticized Penslar and Charleston’s appointments in a post on X.

“Most of Harvard antisemitism stems from DEI,” Kestenbaum wrote, criticizing Charleston’s affiliation with the task force. Kestenbaum’s post mistakenly implies Charleston is a member, though she is an adviser to the group.

“We must do much more to bridge the fissures that have weakened our sense of community, and the task forces, which have the full support of the University, will be critical to our success,” Garber wrote in his email.

“I know that we care enough about each other and our University to join together in ensuring that Harvard offers an environment in which Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Palestinian, and Arab students feel welcome and can thrive,” he added. “We should expect nothing less.”

—Staff writer Tilly R. Robinson can be reached at Follow her on X @tillyrobin.

—Staff writer Neil H. Shah can be reached at Follow him on X @neilhshah15.

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