Ellen Ginsberg Simon

An open letter to Dean John Manning of Harvard Law School from concerned alumni

The shield of Harvard Law School, the alma mater we once proudly attended.
The shield of Harvard Law School, our alma mater that we once proudly attended. (Wikipedia)

Dear Dean Manning,

We are a group of Harvard Law School alumni who, while representing a wide range of class years, share in common a deep concern over recent anti-Semitic incidents on campus.  We initially reached out to you on November 3, 2023, but we have yet to hear any response from HLS.

In the meantime, our numbers continue to grow as word of this group’s efforts spreads organically among friends and colleagues.  In light of the expansion of our group, as well as the Department of Education’s issuance of a Dear Colleague letter on November 7, 2023 exhorting universities to take action against violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we hereby reissue this open letter seeking appropriate redress for anti-Semitic activity at HLS.

You undoubtedly know by now that a member of the Class of 2025 was involved in harassing and assaulting a Jewish student from Harvard Business School on October 18 during a student protest on campus.

The video footage of Ibrahim Bharmal participating in a verbal and physical assault on this Jewish student leaves little to the imagination. It speaks to Mr. Bharmal’s moral turpitude and lack of respect for his fellow students. Mr. Bharmal and his fellow perpetrators already have been reported to Harvard University Police as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The school, however, has yet to make any statement regarding the matter.

As concerned alumni, we write to demand a thorough investigation of the incident. If that investigation substantiates that Mr. Bharmal did indeed engage in this conduct, nothing short of expulsion is an appropriate remedy. Nothing less will suffice to ensure that HLS’ standards and expectations of ethical, professional, and moral conduct are upheld. The value of every law school degree is cheapened by the presence on our venerated campus of a student with such little regard for civil discourse, intellectual debate, and the safety and dignity of fellow students.

If substantiated, Mr. Bharmal’s actions would violate the Harvard Law School Handbook of Academic Policies, specifically Section XII(A): Notice of Non-Discrimination and Harvard Non-Discrimination and Anti-Bullying Policies and Section XII(D)(4): Protest and Dissent Guidelines, Force or Violence. The latter section states that, “Using or threatening force or violence, such as defacing a sign or assaulting a speaker or a member of the audience, is never permitted. Any interference with freedom of movement or with freedom from personal force or violence is a serious violation of personal rights.”

Mr. Bharmal expressly impeded a Jewish student’s freedom of movement when he and his fellow demonstrators surrounded the student and prevented him from walking on campus and accessing his dorm room. They encircled this student, persistently screamed “Shame!” in his face, and would not allow him to pass. They laid hands on the student. If this incident does not constitute bullying and discrimination or the use of personal force, then the Handbook has no meaning.

We need not remind you of the state of American university campuses today. Jewish students are grappling every day with harassment, assault, false imprisonment, property defacement, and even overt death threats. Harvard’s reputation has been grievously marred by its inaction in response to egregious anti-Semitic acts on campus over the past few weeks.

Harvard permitted this situation to escalate to the point of criminality. It must not tolerate the presence on campus of a law student who openly assaults other students on the basis of their Jewish identity. It should not tolerate the presence of a student who assaults anyone for any reason. That type of behavior – behavior that could result in disbarment in any jurisdiction – cannot be allowed to mar the legacy of Harvard Law School.

Your students and alumni are watching closely to see how you navigate this disturbing incident. How you respond to this event will either quell further disturbances on campus or embolden those who already see Jews as open targets.

Harvard has disappointed so many of us this past month. It is never too late to make the right choice, however, and we hope that you do so now.


Ellen Ginsberg Simon ’05

Michael Ginsberg ’02

Jonathan Skrmetti ’04

Charlie Scheeler ’81

Yoni Rosenzweig ’05

Ronit Gurtman ’05

Anna Brook ’07

Jeremy Blachman ’05

Ella Shenhav ’09

Adam Reiss ’05

Rebecca Parker ’05

David Wilansky ’05

Danielle Rothman ’05

Rebecca Green ’05

Carla Roy ’05

Taylor Dasher ’06

Alan Gongora ’03

Allison Caplis ’03

Daniel Zahler ’05

Alex Gordon ’05

Ari Ellenberg ’05

Greg Parets ’03

Katie Lachter ’03

Laura Posner ’04

Katie Chen ’04

Dodi Samuel ’05

Matt Schwartz ’01

Jonathan Talansky ’06

Meyer C. Dworkin ’05

Isaac Schwarz ’20

Eli Shalam ’16

Vicki Chou ’06

Elliot Davis ’07

Jessica Tuchinsky ’06

Hillel Eichenbrenner ’23

Samuel Krawiecz ’15

Jacob Weinberger ’20

Dov Gottlieb ’19

Jennifer Zombek Yashar ’05

Kira Rosen Dabby ’04

Chaim Kagedan ’08

Adam Hersch ’20

Asher Perez ’19

Caryn E. Angelson ’97

Jacob Entin ’21

Neil H. Koslowe ’69

Daniel Pessar ’20

Avigael Fyman ’05

Elisha Graff ’00

Richard L. Tavrow ‘60

Alexander Rabinowitz ’22

Pantea Yashar ’04

Laurie Puhn Feinstein ’02

Chaim Herbstman ’22

Michael Nathan Rader ’00

Keren Rabin ’00

Lauren Hammer Breslow ’02

Jennifer Weitz Brown ’02

Eve Rodsky ’02

Adam R. Wichman ’01

Aviv Lazar ’18

Marie Milnes-Vasquez ’92

Alison Parker ’81

Michael Dorff ’96

Cory Wishengrad ’99

Tama Klosek ’99

Sara Brenner ’06

Andreea Micklis ’05

Allison Elgart ’05

Jeremy Snow ’05

Dale Partol Mathias ’73

Roberta Brooks ’71

Anne Bowers ’04

Mike Offner ’97

Giselle Fahimian Chandler ’02

Stephanie Singer ’10

Ronit Berkovich ’01

John Casey ’71

Lauren Charme Fishkoff ‘04

Andrew Fishkoff ‘05

William B. Kohn ‘77

Oleg Vyadro ‘95

Robert Treadway ‘85

M. Oren Epstein ‘03

Jennifer R. Gardner ‘91

David J. Cedor ‘85

M. Oren Epstein ’03

Lawrence Scheer ’01

Andrea Rosenblum ’98

Erika Rubin ’97

Brian Gottesman ’03

Seth Good ’03

Sara Zausmer ’04

Raegan King Holladay ’06

About the Author
Ellen Ginsberg Simon is an attorney and compliance professional. She has an M.Phil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from Oxford University and is also a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School.
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