Harvard students have found themselves in a predicament. Few days after multiple student groups from the university withdrew their signatures from a statement calling Israel “entirely responsible” for the ongoing violence, the students are facing backlash and doxxing attacks on the campus.
According to The Harvard Crimson, which is the University's online daily, a billboard truck drove through the streets surrounding Harvard’s campus on 11 and 12 October, digitally displaying the names and faces of students allegedly affiliated with student groups that signed onto the statement.
The Quint has a copy of the original statement penned down by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee. In the previous statement, the student group has essentially called out Israel for being "responsible for the unfolding violence." Calling our the apartheid, it added that, "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."
Amid the backlash and lack of any support from the faculty, at least nine of the original 34 co-signing Harvard student groups as of 12 October withdrew their signatures from the statement.
The student group has now put out a fresh statement condemning the "targeting of Palestinian, Black, brown and Muslim" students on the campus.
Nonetheless, they still condemned Israel's airstrikes which have killed over thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of children as Gaza's population is almost 50% children among the civilians.
Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee's new statement.
(Photo Courtesy: Instagram)
Students Take Out Vigil for Palestine, Israel Victims
On the evening of 12 October, hundreds of Harvard students and affiliates gathered in the Sever Quadrangle in the campus for a silent vigil to mourn civilian deaths in Gaza and Israel and stand in solidarity with Palestine.
The vigil — organized by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and Harvard Graduate Students 4 Palestine — was postponed to 12 October from its originally scheduled date of 10 October “due to credible safety concerns and threats against student security,” according to a post on the PSC’s Instagram.
"Despite relentless intimidation, hundreds showed up tonight for our vigil. Now more than ever, it is the time to show our support for Palestine," read the caption of the post on the vigil.
Among the student groups who have withdrawn their endorsements are Harvard Undergraduate Nepali Student Association which put out another statement on their Instagram and stated:
"We regret that our decision to co-sign the latest PSC statement to call attention to historical injustices against Palestinians, with an earnest desire for peace, has been interpreted as a tacit support for the recent violent attacks in Israel."
They added, "We deplore the attacks that have taken the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians including 10 Nepali students in Israel."
Clarifying that they stand in solidarity with both Israeli and Palestinian victims and families, Harvard Undergraduate Ghungroo, a group promoting South Asian culture, in their statement said, "We would like to sincerely apologize to Ghungroo members, the broader Harvard community, and anyone else who has felt hurt by Ghungroo’s support of the The Harvard Palestinian Committee statement."
Amid this tumultuous situation, many of the faculty members have chosen to not back the students in their actions.
Over 300 faculty members instead wrote to the President and Harvard University leadership stating that "while terrorists were still killing Israelis in their homes, 35 Harvard student organisations wrote that they hold “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,” with not a single word denouncing the horrific acts by Hamas." The Quint has accessed the copy of the letter.
Adding that the students' statements can be seen as condoning the mass murder of civilians based on their nationality. "We’ve heard reports of even worse instances, with Harvard students celebrating the 'victory' or 'resistance' on social media," the statement alleged.
On the other hand, many of the students believe their action of calling out Israel's illegal occupation and massacre against Gaza is being misconstrued as being antisemitic and pro-terrorism.
Israeli Billionaire Resigns From Board; Harvard President Speaks Up
Meanwhile, Idan Ofer, an Israeli shipping tycoon with a multi-billion-dollar fortune, and his wife Batia have stepped down from their roles as board members at Harvard's Kennedy School.
Their resignation comes in protest of what they perceive as the University's lukewarm response to a letter from student organizations.
Moreover, several CEOs are now urging Harvard University to release the names of the people in the student organisations who signed a pro-Palestinian letter that criticised Israel and to "blacklist them."
University's President Claudine Gay has come under fire from Harvard alums, including former school president Larry Summers, who decried the "delayed" statement from her office in response to the student letter, The New York Post reported.
However, on 12 October, The Harvard Crimson wrote that President Gay "forcefully condemned barbaric atrocities perpetrated by Hamas” and has rejected calls to punish and name students who signed onto a statement condemning Israel for the ongoing violence.
Gay said in a video address on the same day — her third statement in the past week — that the University “embraces a commitment to free expression” and will not seek to sanction those who have criticised Israel, even as she sought to distance the University from the student groups' statement.
Earlier, the Harvard President had said that, “while our students have the right to speak for themselves, no student group — not even 30 student groups — speaks for Harvard University or its leadership.”
Meanwhile, on X (formerly Twitter), while several people have endorsed and even celebrated the intimidation faced by the students, many others have called out the attacks against the Harvard solidarity groups.
(The Quint has also reached out to the some students of the University, their response will be added once received).