Jan. 11 Open Letter of concern about persistent inaction

January 11, 2024

Sent to President Kornbluth and other members of the administration

In the past three months, MIT Jewish alumni, including the MIT JAA (MIT Jewish Alumni Alliance), have sent numerous open letters to MIT President Sally Kornbluth and the MIT administration, asking them to take concrete measures to combat antisemitism on campus. All these letters have been ignored by the MIT administration. 

Instead, the January 3rd statement of President Kornbluth outlining steps to address antisemitism establishes a series of bureaucratic committees to delay and to dilute any concrete action. For example, rather than confirm that students who participated in the November 9, 2023 protest and deliberately violated MIT rules have been appropriately disciplined, President Kornbluth’s statement indicated that a new faculty committee has been tasked with examining policy areas that deal with free expression. Similarly, rather than confirm that a group of DEI officers dismissed multiple valid complaints from Jewish students and instead publicly supported antisemitic behavior by endorsing genocidal slogans, President Kornbluth announced the unveiling of a new Vice President position for Equity and Inclusion. Rather than address a faculty member writing that the protesters’ calling for an intifada–an implied death threat to Jews– have “given [him] hope for the future,” President Kornbluth said nothing.

There is no sign this threatening environment will end. An antisemitic and MIT-funded student group, CAA, is threatening “stronger and even bigger” measures in the spring semester to “make sure that there will be no business as usual at MIT until Palestine is free, from the river to the sea.” Unless MIT is willing to step up and address these misguided and blatantly antisemitic behaviors and beliefs, Jewish students will continue to face intimidation from outside and inside the classroom.

Because MIT’s spring semester is due to begin on February 5, 2024, and we believe the threats to MIT students are real, the Executive Committee, on behalf of the MIT JAA, requests that President Kornbluth ensure the numbered action items below are implemented by the start of spring semester:

1) In view of the short time frame, schedule an in-person meeting between the MIT JAA Executive Committee and MIT Administration and Corporation leadership in time to begin implementation of measures that will ensure, by the start of the spring semester, a protective and supportive environment for all members of the Jewish community on the MIT campus.

2) Given the number of antisemitic acts on campus, create a dedicated task force focusing solely on the current antisemitism crisis on campus.

3) Restore effective deterrence by appropriately disciplining students who purposely violate MIT policy. At the same time, appropriately discipline DEI officers who ignore complaints by Jewish students. MIT remains an outlier by not yet having disciplined students who violated its policies, even after explicit warnings were issued to them. In addition, MIT should be more transparent about the disciplinary process and the results.

4) Make clear that calls for Jewish genocide are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This includes statements by MIT students, faculty, and staff that have praised the terroristic attack on October 7th and cheered the death (and in some cases, rape and torture) of Jews. President Kornbluth should formally apologize for her widely criticized congressional testimony of December 5, 2023.

The Jewish people’s memory of enduring one of the worst genocides in history is still fresh in our collective consciousness. This issue is not an academic or legal exercise for us. Our genocide unfolded in the wake of world-class German universities of MIT’s caliber turning their backs on us. Our conscience will not allow us to remain silent if we see MIT follow a similar path. 

The absence of calls for the resignation of specific individuals, including President Kornbluth, is not a sign of support but rather an understanding that MIT’s tolerance of antisemitism on its campus is a deep and pervasive problem that goes well beyond a single person. We are committed to ensuring a safe and supportive learning environment for all students on campus.