The Other Harvard President Who Was Forced to Resign

Feb. 2 2024
About Ruth

Ruth R. Wisse is professor emerita of Yiddish and comparative literatures at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at Tikvah. Her memoir Free as a Jew: a Personal Memoir of National Self-Liberation, chapters of which appeared in Mosaic in somewhat different form, is out from Wicked Son Press.

In 2006, Harvard’s faculty passed a no-confidence motion, leading its then-president Larry Summers to step down. Summers had found himself in trouble after violating various tenets of political correctness. Ruth R. Wisse, then a professor at the school, recalls that Summers, in addition to his primary transgressions, had also given a speech condemning the movement to boycott Israel. Revisiting the controversy in light of Havard’s more recent troubles, she writes:

At the next faculty meeting, Lorand Matory, professor of anthropology and Afro-American studies and himself African American, accused Summers of using his presidential authority to stifle free expression by casting “criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitism. He was backed up by colleagues in an ambush so well prepared that though the press was excluded from faculty meetings, the next day’s Boston Globe featured Matory’s charge on its front page. It had gone international by the following August when Judith Butler, gender-studies scholar and one of the original BDS petitioners at Berkeley, published an attack on Summers in the London Review of Books titled, “No, it’s not anti-Semitic.” She called his remarks personally hurtful to her, with “a chilling effect on political discourse.” The president’s rare courage in challenging anti-Semites was slandered as an attack on free speech, just as Israel was pilloried when it successfully practiced self-defense.

I was mocked at the time for saying that anti-Semitism was one of the catalysts in Summers’s ouster, but no one would doubt its prominence in the fate of President Gay.

The American activist left had lacked a proper ideological target since the Vietnam War. . . . There came Palestinian students in the form of the victimized Arabs to give grievance coalitions the most familiar of all targets in this intriguing new guise. Anti-Semitism trumps all other ideologies in being entirely anti, a wholly negative campaign against a people with no incentive to counterattack those from whom it seeks acceptance. It sprouted like weed.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Harvard, University

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security