Harvard professor resigns from pro-Palestinian groups amid backlash for antisemitic post | news

Walter Johnson, professor of history and African and African American studies, resigned as faculty adviser to the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and Harvard Faculty and Staff on Palestine for an antisemitic image.

History professor Alison Frank Johnson, Johnson's wife, confirmed the decision to resign from both groups when reached by phone Tuesday evening.

“There were ongoing conversations about Professor Johnson stepping down. His term expired in the spring and he informed us that he would not be renewing,” the PSC wrote in a statement. “This is a personal decision and he is supportive of our goals as an organization. We are grateful for his time and support and wish him well.

FSJP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Following the initial backlash, the PSC uploaded a new version of the post, writing that the “previous version of this post” was “not reflective” of their company values.

“Our mutual goals of liberation will always include the Jewish community—and we regret inadvertently adding an image that played on anti-Semitic tropes,” they wrote.

Harvard Interim President Alan M. Garber '76 strongly condemned the anti-Semitic image in a university-wide email Tuesday. Identity is the opposite of what this moment demands of us.”

Johnson was listed as the first signatory of the FSJP's founding statement. The list of FSJP members was at one point removed from the website after controversy erupted over the anti-Semitic image.

FSJP apologized in an Instagram post on Monday for resharing a post with an anti-Semitic image on their account.

“We apologize for the hurt caused by these images and in no way condone them,” the organization wrote. “Harvard FSJP stands against all forms of hatred and bigotry, including antisemitism.”

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The PSC and the Anti-African and African-American Organization — the two groups that initially posted the anti-Semitic image — apologized in a joint statement Tuesday for the “tremendous harm” caused by the post.

“To be very clear: the original anti-Semitic film completely violated our internal standards and betrayed our core values ​​of justice and liberation,” the groups wrote. “Adding an offensive caricature is an unprovoked, painful error — a combination of ignorance and inadequate oversight.”

“Although the image in question was immediately removed, it should never have been published to begin with,” they added.

—Staff writer Tilly R. Robinson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on X @dillirobin.

—Staff writer Neil H. Shah can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on X @neilhshah15.

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