More than 70 Harvard faculty members have signed a letter decrying the U.S. and Israel’s “criminalization” of the Palestinians’ “right to resist,” and called on the Biden administration to end support for “Israel’s apartheid regime, condemn Israeli state aggression, and affirm our support for the Palestinian liberation struggle.”
“As US-based scholars who oppose racism and colonial violence in all its forms,” the letter, published Thursday, read, “we write to express solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and self-determination.”
The letter slammed Israel for its recent “military attack on Gaza” but made no mention of the 4,000 rockets fired by the Hamas terror group at Israeli civilians that prompted the retaliatory strikes by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
The Harvard staffers also condemned Israel for “facilitat[ing] right-wing extremist attacks on Palestinians” in “Israeli cities like Lydda and Haifa.” Lydda is the Palestinian–and now obsolete–name given to the central Israeli city of Lod, where violence erupted two weeks ago as the result of Arab rioters. Arab mobs torched apartments belonging to their Jewish neighbors, hurled Molotov cocktails in several synagogues and set fire to hundreds of cars. Many Jewish families were forced to quickly pack up their belongings and flee their houses, prompting the mayor of the mixed Arab-Jewish city to call it “reminiscent of the Nazi Kristallnacht.”
A Jewish resident of Lod was killed when Arabs struck him in the head multiple times with a brick. The victim’s kidney was then donated to an Arab woman.
The Harvard letter alleged “Palestinian resistance in all its forms is criminalized by Israel and the US.”
In this moment when Israeli ethnonationalist violence is at an all-time high, US military support remains steadfast, and solidarity with Palestine is criminalized, US-based scholars cannot be silent. We demand an end to US support for Israel’s apartheid regime, condemn Israeli state aggression, and affirm our support for the Palestinian liberation struggle.
“Every measure of self-defense by a people without a state or an army against a nuclear power backed by the US is subject to immediate censure while Israel continues its violent aggressions with impunity,” the letter continued.
The letter also claimed the rights of Arab-Israelis at “Israeli universities are severely curtailed” and went on to claim that “academic institutions routinely punish scholars – both Jews and Palestinians – who criticize the state’s policies.” Israel’s academia is known for being heavily left-leaning and is roundly critical of the Israeli government.
Further, as a result of Israeli academia’s robust affirmative action policies and a government-driven campaign to promote higher education in the Arab sector, the Arab student body has more than doubled in recent years, and Arabs now constitute more of the student population proportionally than they do the population at large.
A separate letter published at the beginning of the recent conflict between Gaza and Israel condemned Israel for what it called a “history of ethnic cleaning and apartheid regime.” It was signed by over 850 Harvard students, faculty, and alumni on behalf of Harvard’s “Palestine Caucus.”
“The current escalation of violence against Palestinians in Palestine and in Israel follows years of systematic oppression and ethnic cleansing committed by the State of Israel,” the letter read.
It called on the university to “end its complicity with Israeli apartheid policies and occupation by removing its investments in companies that are involved in the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise.”
Once again, the petition slammed Israel for “the most intense aerial bombardments of Gaza since 2014,” but failed to mention the rockets from Hamas.
Israel advocacy group StandWithUs told the student paper Campus Reform they are “appalled” by the efforts of Harvard students to spread “misinformation and hate against Israel.”
Such misinformation and hate will only serve to harm innocent Israelis, Jews and Palestinians. We call on Harvard’s administration to condemn this misinformation and hate and, the terrorism inflicted against innocent Israelis by Hamas. It is imperative that Harvard’s administration brings communities together in pursuit of accurate education and peace building to ensure a campus environment free from hate.