The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has changed a lot since the days when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended and earned degrees in architecture and business. He almost completed a third degree in political science and would have if his brother, Yonatan (“Yoni”) Netanyahu, had not been killed in the raid on Entebbe in July 1976 by Israeli forces, which successfully rescued 103 hostages from an Air France plane hijacked by German and Palestinian terrorists. Only a handful of MIT students had comparable accomplishments, and none had to take a hiatus for 40 days to fight in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
I recently spoke to an alumnus of MIT who attended the university at the same time as Netanyahu. He told me that the MIT of today does not resemble the MIT he knew.
First, in the 1970s, MIT was a merit-based institution that only admitted the best and the brightest. Today, the school promotes quasi-socialist “equity” politics rather than teaching sciences, engineering and related subjects at the highest level of scholarship and critical thinking.
The alumnus also told me that 33% of his class was Jewish. About a third of them were observant. The kosher kitchen required two different seatings every night for dinner.
Today, Jews are increasingly being barred from MIT. The number of Jews accepted has dwindled to around 7%. One of the reasons is likely systemic antisemitism. Antisemitic harassment on campus began long before the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre and the outpouring of leftist and Muslim support for the atrocities. After Hamas’s genocidal attack, however, antisemitism on campus exploded. Jewish students were afraid to go to class or walk the campus for fear of physical harm and confrontations with pro-Hamas thugs.
A number of groups were formed in response. One was the MIT Jewish Alumni Alliance, which declared: “MIT’s administration has failed to acknowledge the magnitude of growing antisemitism evident across the MIT campus and failed to take effective measures to stem it.” The Alliance has published three open letters to date, including a condemnation of MIT president Sally Kornbluth’s statement before Congress that, the Alliance said, “implied calls for genocide of Jews may not constitute bullying and harassment under MIT’s Code of Conduct depending on context.” The letters have received significant media attention.
MIT has also become a hotbed of hate. Here is a brief timeline of this moral degradation:
On the day after the Oct. 7 massacre, five MIT-funded groups sent an email to every undergraduate stating, “In light of recent events in Palestine, the MIT Coalition Against Apartheid and Palestine@MIT denounces [sic] the settler colonial occupation by Israel, which is the root of the current situation. Colonization itself is inherently violent; we thus affirm the right of occupied peoples to resist their oppressors and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
On Nov. 2, “protesters” stormed the office of MIT’s international education program MISTI while shrieking the genocidal chant “from the river to the sea.” MISTI staff members said they felt trapped and feared verbal and physical assault.
On Nov. 9, despite being warned about MIT policies regarding protests, pro-Hamas thugs occupied Lobby 7, the main entrance point and thoroughfare for the entire campus—which is not an approved protest venue—for 24 hours. They were so loud and violent that Kornbluth actually visited them and threatened suspension. She walked back on her threats, however, ostensibly because she was concerned that suspension would lead to the cancellation of foreign students’ visas and their deportation.
On Nov. 12, marchers on campus chanted “globalize the intifada”—a call for mass antisemitic violence against Jews worldwide.
On Dec. 4 and Dec. 6, a trespasser entered the Religious Activities Center and the Hillel Lounge and harassed Jewish students, accusing them of working for the Mossad. He also urinated on a Hillel Lounge window during morning prayer services.
On Jan. 2, MIT electrical engineering and computer science professor Mauricio Karchmer resigned over the antisemitic climate on campus. He said, “During a time when the Jewish and Israeli students, staff and faculty were particularly vulnerable, instead of offering the support they needed, the broader MIT community exhibited open hostility towards them. Like many other college campuses nationwide, the Institute clearly failed this test.”
Other antisemitic incidents at MIT included the vandalization of a Holocaust memorial on Holocaust Remembrance Day and the blockade of a campus daycare center where a number of Jewish children were present. The thugs actually tried to break in but were stopped by locked doors.
Many of these violent activities have been orchestrated by the so-called Coalition Against Apartheid (CAA). MIT students say the group “unequivocally supported, justified and glorified the terrorism committed by Hamas.” Such pro-Hamas groups should be banned from campus.
The fallout from all of this has only just begun. Thankfully, Jewish alumni are fighting back. Let’s hope they help MIT return to its self-declared mission of education and service.