„When feckless agitators accuse Derek Penslar of antisemitism, you know that something has gone way off the rails. We should be clear: What they are attacking is not just an eminent scholar, but more broadly, the American university as the site of expertise and critical thinking“, states David N. Myers in der LA Times.
I can only agree with that. In the Spring Semester of 2022, I was a Fellow in the Department of History at Harvard University and was able to attend Derek Penslar’s seminar during my research stay. I have never met anyone who spoke about Israel in a more nuanced and thoughtful way than he did. He unfolded many ambivalences and discussed them along the lines of his latest book. I am–as a researcher on the theory and history of antisemitism–shocked by these groundless accusations.
I would therefore like to draw your attention to this open letter in support of Derek Penslar, which I have signed today:
„We—scholars of Jewish history, Israeli society, antisemitism, the Holocaust and related fields based at universities in Israel, North America and Europe—voice our full support for the recent decision by the interim President of Harvard University, Prof. Alan Garber, to appoint Prof. Derek J. Penslar, the William Lee Frost Professor of Jewish History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as co-chair of Harvard University’s new Presidential Task Force on Combating Antisemitism.“
There is an impressive list of Jewish Studies signatories as well as from the fields of antisemitism and Holocaust research, and a large number of researchers from Israel.
Also worth reading is the whole commentary by David N. Myers, which appeared in the LA Times: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2024-01-24/antisemitism-harvard-task-force-derek-penslar
His students have also written an open letter: https://medium.com/@akohn_88119/an-open-letter-to-president-garber-in-support-of-dr-d5124e1c4251
The report of The Harvard Crimson is as well very worth reading: „Amid Pressure and Ardent Support, Penslar Mulled Stepping Down from Harvard Antisemitism Task Force“
Moreover this was discussed in Haaretz: „Harvard Faces Fresh Backlash Over Professor Named Co-chair of Antisemitism Task Force“