Dec. 4 Open Letter regarding growing antisemitism at MIT

December 4, 2023

Sent to MIT administration and the US House Education and the Workforce Committee 

Open letter to MIT administration regarding growing antisemitism at MIT

Dear President Kornbluth, Provost Barnhart, and members of the MIT administration,

We are a growing group of MIT Jewish alumni and MIT allies who are united in our grave concern and alarm over the growth of antisemitism and an increasingly hostile environment for Jewish and Israeli students, faculty, and staff on MIT’s campus.  

Since the barbaric attack perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on Israeli civilians on October 7, 2023, antisemitism in the United States has risen to unprecedented levels.  The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has reported that incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault against Jews have increased by 388 percent since October 7, 2023 over the same period last year (  Outbreaks of antisemitic incidents have plagued many college campuses, where administrators have shown either inability or unwillingness to effectively manage the situation.  Unfortunately, MIT is not an exception.  

Our concern and alarm come from news reports and personal conversations with current MIT students who have reached out to us to discuss incidents of harassment and intimidation that they have experienced on campus in the past weeks.  These incidents include:

  • Two MIT-funded student groups, MIT Coalition Against Apartheid (CAA) and Palestine@MIT, sent an email to all undergraduate students on October 8, 2023, justifying the massacre of Israeli civilians and blaming Israel for it.  This was traumatizing to many MIT Jewish and Israeli students with family and friends in Israel who have been directly affected by the brutal attacks.
  • Multiple rallies were held on the MIT campus both in locations where MIT allows formal protests (such as Stratton Student Center steps) and in ones where it does NOT allow formal protests (77 Mass Avenue steps, classrooms such as 10-250, 26-100, and MIT hallways).  In at least one case, involving a rally on the steps of 77 Mass Avenue held on November 12, 2023, many non-MIT individuals participated.  These rallies involved chanting of antisemitic slogans and calls for violence against Jews and Israelis.  The chants included the notorious “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” slogan – a call that has been deemed antisemitic by the Anti-Defamation League and that the US congressional resolution of November 7, 2023 deemed “a genocidal call to violence to destroy the state of Israel and its people to replace it with a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”  The rallies also included calls for “intifada” – a violent uprising.
  • The now-infamous protest of November 9, 2023, organized by the MIT-funded student group CAA, resulted in an all-day occupation of Lobby 7, even after the warnings by the MIT administration before and during the blockade that this was illegal.  Fortunately, the MIT police were able to keep the entrance to the Infinite Corridor open but ultimately had to shut down Lobby 7 to the entire MIT community as the occupiers refused to leave.
  • Students have stormed the offices of Israeli and Jewish staff members, harassing and intimidating the staff.
  • Students have interrupted lectures at MIT chanting antisemitic slogans. 
  • Individual Jewish students have been subjected to harassment and intimidation by other students while walking around campus.
  • Many Jewish students do not feel safe on campus. In the words of one Jewish MIT student: “I do not just feel unsafe, I am unsafe!”

The MIT administration’s response to the numerous antisemitic incidents has been tepid at best and tolerant of this antisemitic behavior at worst.  While the administration clearly set down red lines for all students as to what is considered acceptable behavior, these rules continue to be flagrantly violated without any meaningful consequences for the violators.  Given the administration’s lack of response to these violations, it is not surprising that antisemitic harassment and intimidation on campus continue undeterred.

This is not the MIT that we all know and love.  This is not the place that we are proud to call our alma mater.

Antisemitism has no place on MIT’s campus and in any civilized society.  The continued antisemitic harassment and intimidation of Jewish and Israeli students on campus is of grave concern not only to the MIT community, but also to industry leaders and lawmakers.  For example, the second most popular audience comment at a session of the MIT Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) Conference held on November 15-16, 2023, expressed concerns about working with MIT in view of the rise of antisemitism on campus.  Further, President Kornbluth is scheduled to testify before Congress in front of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on December 5, 2023, to address antisemitism on MIT’s campus (  MIT should be mentioned in the media for its scientific achievements, not for its antisemitism. 

MIT has a legal responsibility under Title VI to provide all students, including students who are or are perceived to be Jewish or Israeli, a school environment free from discrimination, including intimidation and harassment.

We call on the MIT administration to take the following concrete steps to address the growing antisemitism on campus:

Enforce meaningful consequences for the individuals who violate MIT’s rules

It is shameful to see how MIT enables further disruption without consequences for individuals who flagrantly violate the rules the administration set forth for everyone in good faith.  Other universities have done much better at enforcing their rules, and so should MIT.  Some universities have banned student groups who repeatedly flout rules, others arrested students who engaged in harassment and intimidation of members of their communities, and still others enacted speedy disciplinary hearings within 10 days for those who violate the rules.  We call on the MIT administration to enforce its own disciplinary rules and send a clear message to students that antisemitic harassment and intimidation will not be tolerated and will have real, severe consequences.  We also call on the MIT administration to take any and all measures to restore civility on campus.  It is unacceptable for Jewish and Israeli students to continue being targeted.

Create an antisemitism-specific task force on campus

We applaud President Kornbluth’s announcement of the “Standing Together Against Hate” council with the aim to “combat hate.”  However, this is a long-term measure, and it does not address the immediate and urgent problem at hand, which is undeterred antisemitism within the MIT community.  We call on the MIT administration to implement concrete solutions to address the rise of antisemitic rhetoric and harassment in the immediate term.  We also call on the MIT administration to follow the lead of other schools and create an antisemitism-focused task force to work on ensuring the physical safety of Jewish students and combating the root causes of antisemitism’s spread on campus.

We are proud members of the MIT community.  It is our hope that MIT’s response to our concerns described here will reassure us and revive the sense of belonging, both for us and for current Jewish and Israeli students, faculty, and staff.  It is paramount that Jewish and Israeli students, faculty, and staff on campus feel protected and safe, as do all other members of the MIT community.

See full list of signatories here: