Jonathan Feldstein
Husband, father, grandfather, bridge-builder, Zionist

When “Harvard of the South” Was An Aspiration

Meme created by the author.

When I attended Emory University in the 1980s, students expressed pride in Emory being the “Harvard of the South.” Then, albeit acknowledging Emory’s second-class status to Harvard’s longer history and being ranked one of the best universities in the US if not the world, it was an aspiration.

Today, association with Harvard is vile, corrupt, and morally repugnant. For an institution whose logo bears the Latin word for “Truth,” (Veritas) Harvard has become a den of evil, one of the worst propagators of antisemitism, fostering antisemitism and creating a safe space for antisemites. That is the truth. Veritas.

According to Harvard president Claudine Gay’s recent congressional testimony, under oath, Harvard allows for calls for genocide and other threats against the Jewish people unchecked and with impunity, depending on the context.

With the Harvard board and hundreds of faculty standing behind Gay, neither calling for her resignation nor being fired unilaterally, it is now unabashedly educating the next generation of antisemites. They are teaching students and setting an example for the world that calling for genocide against the Jewish people is OK, ever. That’s not just bad education, it’s evil.

Harvard is educating people of influence who will infiltrate the highest levels of governmental, civic, and business with this as their paradigm.

A leading recent example is Harvard alumnus and former President Barack Obama who added to the murkiness saying that people have to take in the “whole truth” (veritas), as if Hamas’ genocidal goals and its bloody massacre of 1200 and kidnapping 250 hostages is somehow parallel to Israel’s self-defense, even if “innocent” Palestinian Arab civilians are dying as a result. It is a false equation and a lie, but his truth mirrors that which his alma mater has abandoned. A scary portending of what’s to come.

Basically, Obama pre-empted Gay’s comment that whether calls for genocide violate Harvard’s standards against harassment requires context.

Due to the backlash of her congressional testimony, Gay apologized and backtracked, but still did not say directly that calls for genocide against Jews are harassment, nor did she disavow her “context” remark. Speaking with the hard hitting media at her Harvard Crimson, Gay tepidly said, “What I should have had the presence of mind to do in that moment was return to my guiding truth, which is that calls for violence against our Jewish community — threats to our Jewish students — have no place at Harvard, and will never go unchallenged.”

But Harvard’s Jewish students didn’t feel any better or safer as a result. Harvard Hillel for example issued a statement that Gay’s statements “call into question (her) ability to protect Jewish students on Harvard’s campus.” Respected Rabbi David Wolpe, who had joined a Harvard advisory group to combat antisemitism resigned in disgust, due to Gay’s “painfully inadequate testimony.” Rabbi Wolpe noted that “an ideology of wokeism and attendant antisemitism is deeply rooted” at Harvard and other elite institutions.

As a result of their testimony, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT whose presidents all participated in reading the same script during their congressional testimony now all face official congressional investigations on their failure to address antisemitism. As they should. If congressional testimony is under oath and then Gay and the other presidents backtracked from that, at one point they were lying, either to Congress or in their retraction. Veritas.

If at Harvard, failure to refer to a person by their preferred pronoun is actionable, and calls for genocide are not, the ethical rot is deep. If the board does not see this, they are complicit.

Back in Atlanta, before Thanksgiving Emory University President Gregory Fenves sent a message to the extended Emory community about the war against Hamas. I’m not sure why this would even be featured in his pre-Thanksgiving message at all.

Fenves engaged in the woke ideology of moral equivalence that Rabbi Wolpe noted was rampant, writing “a large number of students, faculty, staff, and alumni will have no such relief from the emotional toll of the tragic war in Israel and Gaza.” He missed the mark terribly making the false parallel of “mourning the lives lost, both Palestinian and Israeli… praying that hostages who are still being held by Hamas will be released and for the Palestinian families who are suffering as the war continues across Gaza,” comparing the apples of hostages being kidnapped and abused in Gaza, to the oranges of “Palestinian families…suffering.”

What really outraged me is that the president of my alma mater said he was “outraged” by “the rise in Islamophobia and antisemitism that has spread across our nation and around the world.” Again, another false parallel, lacking in historic or moral veritas.

Fenves should know better. He is the son of Holocaust survivors. I can’t help but wonder if his murdered relatives would roll over in their unmarked graves of ash, ashen by his absurd equation, and outraged by their own relative not being morally clear when it comes to threats against Jews.

He must realize that Hamas today has the same objectives as the Nazis who murdered his relatives. It’s just a different cast of characters. Haman, Hitler, Hamas, and now Harvard. Or does he?

Fenves’ comparing Islamophobia with antisemitism is egregious. It is dishonest and academically unsound to conflate the two, or even feel and need to call out “Islamophobia” in response to the very real rise in antisemitism and threats to American Jews. There is no parallel.

As the son of Holocaust survivors, I’m sure that Fenves’ own relatives who were deported from their communities, or shot or gassed to death, would wretch at conflating the very real antisemitism to which they were victims with a dismissive suggestion that they were being Naziphobic.

When I attended Emory, we proudly celebrated it as “the Harvard of the south.” Today, Harvard is an epicenter of Jew-hatred, at which Jews are threatened and whose president has abysmally abdicated her responsibility, academically and morally. Being the Harvard of the south is certainly nothing to be proud of.

Maybe for Christmas, Fenves will backtrack from his own tepid moral equivalence, and issue a bold and unequivocal statement about the horrors of antisemitism and genocide being unparalleled to anything in world history. Maybe he can become the leader that Gay is not. Maybe one day Harvard students will aspire to be at the Emory of the north.

That’s what I’d like for Christmas.

About the Author
Jonathan Feldstein made aliyah in 2004, is married and the father of six children, two children in love, and three grandchildren (so far). He is a long time Jewish non-profit professional. As president of the Genesis 123 Foundation ( he works closely with Christians all over the world who support Israel, building bridges in ways that are new, unique and meaningful. He hosts the Inspiration from Zion podcast, and published a stunning book, "Israel the Miracle" to celebrate Israel's 75th anniversary, featuring 75 essays from Christian leaders all over the world (