Harvard Student Apologizes for Anti-Semitic Remark


The head of a student group at Harvard has apologized for posing a question at a recent panel event to Israeli lawmaker Tzipi Livni that was interpreted as being anti-Semitic.

The school’s Jewish Law Students Association denounced the student’s question — “Why are you so smelly?” — as “blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric” that invoked the “antiquated and offensive notion of the ‘smelly Jew.’”

The student, identified only as a “president of a student organization on campus,” issued a lengthy apology on Wednesday.

“I would never, ever, ever call anyone, under any circumstances, a ‘smelly Jew,’” the student wrote. “Such a comment is utterly repugnant, and I am absolutely horrified that some readers have been led to believe that I would ever say such a thing.

“With regards to what I actually did say, I can see now, after speaking with the authors of this article and many other members of the Jewish community at HLS, how my words could have been interpreted as a reference to an anti-Semitic stereotype, one that I was entirely unaware of prior to the publication of this article. I want to be very clear that it was never my intention to invoke a hateful stereotype, but I recognize now that, regardless of my intention, words have power, and it troubles me deeply to know that I have caused some members of the Jewish community such pain with my words.”

However, the apology, as quoted in the media, did not explain what the student’s intent was, other than to insult Livni.

Harvard Law dean Martha Minow and the president of the school’s Middle East Law Students Association also condemned the comment in the Harvard Law Record.