MIT students warn campus ‘not safe for Jews,’ describe hostile environment amid anti-Israel protests

‘The onus to protect Jewish students should not be on the students themselves,’ MIT Israel Alliance said.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

Jewish and Israeli students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have warned in a new letter to university president Sally Kornbluth that radical anti-Zionism and intimidation of Jewish students on campus has become intolerable and reminiscent of Nazi Germany on the eve of the Holocaust.

The letter, shared on X/Twitter by MIT professor Retsef Levi, recounted an incident from Thursday in which students from the MIT Coalition Against Apartheid (CAA), a campus anti-Israel group, “physically prevented” them from attending class by forming a “blockade” of bodies in Lobby 7, a space inside the main entrance of the university. Non-students were invited to attend CAA’s demonstration, and together the entire group spent hours chanting “Intifada” — a term used to describe violent Palestinian uprisings against Israel — and declaring solidarity with Hamas.

“Instead of dispersing the mob or de-escalating the situation by rerouting all students from Lobby 7, Jewish students specifically were warned not to enter MIT’s front entrance due to a risk to their physical safety,” wrote the MIT Israel Alliance. “The onus to protect Jewish students should not be on the students themselves.”

Even after being threatened with suspension should they not disperse, the letter continued, CAA remained in Lobby 7, inviting more non-student protesters, which caused the university to issue through its emergency notification system a directive to “avoid” the area.

The students added that a high-level official of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning vowed, in defiance of official orders, to protect any CAA students who continued the demonstration.

The MIT Israel Alliance said that by the end of the day, Jewish students were told to enter the university through its back entrance and avoid the campus’ Hillel building.

“On the 9th of November, on the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, which marked the beginning of the Holocaust, Jews at MIT were told to enter campus from back entrances and not to stay in Hillel for fear of their physical safety,” the group concluded. “We are seeing history repeating itself and Jews on MIT’s campus are afraid.”

When asked for comment, an MIT spokesperson told The Algemeiner that the school is closed in observance of Veterans Day, but MIT President Sally Kornbluth addressed the incident late Thursday after the MIT Israel Alliance issued its letter. Her statement did not mention antisemitism.

“I am deliberately not specifying the viewpoints, as the issue at hand is not the substance of the views but where and how they were expressed,” Kornbluth said, noting that Jewish and pro-Israel counter-protesters were also present in Lobby 7 and that all students were recently reminded of guidelines forbidding holding protests in the building. “Today’s protest — which became disruptive, loud, and sustained through the morning hours — was organized and conducted in defiance of those MIT guidelines and policies. Some students from both the protest and counterprotest may have violated other MIT policies, as well.”

Kornbluth added that protesters who remained after being told to leave will receive a non-academic suspension.