On October 7, 2023, the terrorist organization Hamas initiated a series of brutal attacks on the state of Israel that killed more than 1,400 Israelis and left more than 5,000 people wounded. On October 8, a group of Harvard University organizations issued a joint statement on Instagram blaming Israel for this assault, holding “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” That statement brought immediate condemnation from various individuals and groups as well as repercussions, with some donors cancelling their ties to the university and some employers either withdrawing job offers to students associated with these Harvard organizations or threatening to do so. Some groups later apologized for supporting this statement.
Business Insider has provided an excellent timeline of these events. Here we find that soon after the storms of protest broke, “the statement was amended to remove the names of its signatories, and has since been deleted.”
When I first read the online articles reporting this news about Harvard, my imagination conjured up a diverse collection of university clubs, a far-left chess club, for example, or a women’s field hockey team. Later, after I’d tracked down the original unamended document, I was in for a mild shock.
As the list below demonstrates, nearly all of these organizations are associated with the Arabic world or with Islam. In addition to the generic-sounding “Harvard Islamic Society” and “Society of Arab Students,” we have specialty organizations like the “Harvard Kennedy School Muslim Women’s Caucus” or the “Harvard Divinity School Muslim Association.”
Joint Statement by Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups on the Situation in Palestine
We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.
Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum. For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison. Israeli officials promise to “open the gates of hell,” and the massacres in Gaza have already commenced. Palestinians in Gaza have no shelters for refuge and nowhere to escape. In the coming days, Palestinians will be forced to bear the full brunt of Israel’s violence.
The apartheid regime is the only one to blame. Israeli violence has structured every aspect of Palestinian existence for 75 years. From systematized land seizures to routine airstrikes, arbitrary detentions to military checkpoints, and enforced family separations to targeted killings, Palestinians have been forced to live in a state of death, both slow and sudden.
Today, the Palestinian ordeal enters into uncharted territory. The coming days will require a firm stand against colonial retaliation. We call on the Harvard community to take action to stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians.
African American Resistance Organization
Bengali Association of Students at Harvard College
Harvard Act on a Dream
Harvard Arab Medical and Dental Student Association
Harvard Chan Muslim Student Association
Harvard Chan Students for Health Equity and Justice in Palestine
Harvard College Pakistan Student Association
Harvard Divinity School Muslim Association
Harvard Middle Eastern and North African Law Student Association
Harvard Graduate School of Education Islamic Society
Harvard Graduate Students for Palestine
Harvard Islamic Society
Harvard Law School Justice for Palestine
Harvard Divinity School Students for Justice in Palestine
Harvard Jews for Liberation
Harvard Kennedy School Bangladesh Caucus
Harvard Kennedy School Muslim Caucus
Harvard Kennedy School Muslim Women’s Caucus
Harvard Kennedy School Palestine Caucus
Harvard Muslim Law School Association
Harvard Pakistan Forum
Harvard Prison Divest Coalition
Harvard South Asian Law Students Association
Harvard South Asians for Forward-Thinking Advocacy and Research
Harvard TPS Coalition
Harvard Undergraduate Arab Women’s Collective
Harvard Undergraduate Ghungroo
Harvard Undergraduate Muslim Women’s Medical Alliance
Harvard Undergraduate Nepali Students Association
Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee
Middle East and North African Graduate School of Design Student Society
Neighbor Program Cambridge
Sikhs and Companions of Harvard Undergraduates
Society of Arab Students
Including its undergraduate and graduate programs, Harvard has approximately 25,000 students. According to Harvard’s own figures, 18 of these students are from Bangladesh. How then does the Kennedy School have a “Bangladesh Caucus”? Twenty-seven student body members are from Nepal, yet there is an “Undergraduate Nepali Students Association.”
Such ethnic and racial groups at Harvard clearly seem more intended to divide rather than unite the student body. Is that what America wants or needs?
Moreover, some of these groups likely have economic ties overseas. In “Is Campus Rage Fueled by Middle Eastern Money?” Bari Weiss points readers to a Network Contagion Research Institute study released in November 2023 reporting that over the last decade “at least 200 American colleges and universities illegally withheld information on approximately $13 billion in undisclosed contributions from foreign regimes, many of which are authoritarian.” Many of these donations come from Middle Eastern countries. As the expression goes, follow the money.
We hear much these days about the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States, both on campuses and in the public square. We need to remember that the vast majority of these protests and attacks, which range from shouted slurs to out-and-out violence, don’t reflect the attitudes of most citizens, but originate and are carried out by select groups—often with monetary incentives.
The mainstream news doesn’t report it that way, but there it is.
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