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Dozens of Harvard Student Organizations Blame Israel for Hamas's War Crimes
Early this morning, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and Harvard Graduate Students 4 Palestine, purportedly on behalf of more than 30 other student organizations across Harvard College and Harvard’s graduate schools,1 released via Instagram a statement on the current conflict in Israel and Gaza. The statement and a list of its signatories is available here. It is also reprinted below.2
This “Joint Statement by Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups on the Situation in Palestine” holds Israel singularly responsible for the outbreak of war. Predictably, it also calls Israel an “apartheid regime” and makes bombastic claims about the “Palestinian ordeal.”
Arguably more interesting than what the statement includes is what it ignores. In a particularly revealing section, the statement expresses a fear of “colonial retribution.” If all one knew about the war came from the statement itself, one could be forgiven for wondering what, exactly, Israel is retaliating against; the mounting death toll in Israel goes unmentioned. We all know, however, that Israel’s counterattack is a defense against an invasion. This invasion has included mass kidnappings3 and attacks against civilians.4 It includes the brutal rapes of Israeli women. As far as anyone can currently tell, this violence is not merely the product of individual fighters unrestrained by poor discipline in the ranks, as horrible as that would be. It is, rather, part and parcel of a sustained campaign of terror against the Israeli people.
None of this finds its way into the statement. One wonders if that is simply because its authors deny that such acts are taking place or because they know that even if their portrayal of Palestinian history were accurate, wanton violence against civilian populations would still not be justified as an instrument of war. There is no justification for these attacks.
The names of the entities responsible for these attacks are also curiously missing. If war against Israel is justified, why fail to give proper credit to the groups carrying it out? Because Hamas, which has spent decades engaging in this exact kind of conduct, is recognized by the State Department as a terrorist organization.5 Early reports also suggest that American citizens may have been taken hostage by Hamas soldiers.6 Hezbollah, another terrorist organization primarily based in Lebanon, has also taken credit for some of the attacks.7
There is no excuse for a Harvard student—or any American—choosing to carry water for these groups.
It is, regrettably, no longer surprising to see so many of our classmates support violent antisemitism, nor is it shocking to see them wink and nod at terrorists. But these behaviors are worthy of fresh condemnation every time they occur. The organizations that signed this statement should publicly retract it, and the student leaders that suffered from a lapse in judgment severe enough to sign it in the first place should step down immediately.
Because the authors of the statement are recruiting additional signatories, the exact number continues to change.
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.
Riley Mellen and Aaron Boxerman, “Video Appears to Show Israelis Being Taken Hostage by Hamas,” New York Times, Oct. 7, 2023.
“Country Reports on Terrorism 2020: Israel, West Bank, and Gaza,” US Department of State.
Caitlin Yilek, “U.S. Working to Verify Reports of Americans Dead or Taken Hostage in Israel Attack, Blinken Says,” CBS, Oct. 8, 2023.
Susannah George et al., “Israel Formally Declares War Against Hamas as Hundreds Killed on Both Sides,” Washington Post, Oct. 8, 2023.