Harvard’s Jewish Slaveholder

Last week, Harvard University released a report titled “Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery,” part of a wide-ranging initiative aimed at redressing past wrongs. In examining the report, Ira Stoll discovered that “the first Jew at Harvard was a slaveholder.” Examining the life and scholarship of Judah Monis—a Hebrew instructor who converted to Christianity shortly before joining Harvard’s faculty—Stoll concludes that some of the lessons Monis taught helped “create, in America, a story of freedom that surely ranks with the Bible as one of the great slavery-toppling narratives of all time.” (Subscription required)

Doubtless some will see this as additional evidence that the whole enterprise—18th-century Harvard, the American Revolution, the Bible—was rotten to the core. But there is an alternative reading.

If the future American revolutionaries were diligent students of the Hebrew Monis taught, they would have been able to parse with some care the text of Exodus. At Sinai, after God identifies Himself as having “brought you out of Egypt, the house of slavery,” He issues the commandment that the children of Israel obey the Sabbath in part by not having their own slaves work on the seventh day.

In experiencing the irreconcilable contradiction between the reality of slave ownership and the ideal of freedom, in other words, the American revolutionaries weren’t unlike the children of Israel. They were following in their footsteps.

Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: American Jewish History, Harvard, Slavery


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University