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Harvard Hillel Decries ‘Terrifying’ Anti-Zionist Protest That Disrupted Classes

Pro-Hamas students rallying at Harvard University. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Harvard University’s Hillel chapter has called on the school’s administration to hold accountable those involved in a “terrifying” anti-Zionist demonstration in which activists stormed the campus calling for the destruction of Israel.

On Wednesday, Harvard classes were disrupted by a coordinated protest of demonstrators who used bullhorns to blast calls to “globalize the intifada,” a term used to describe violent Palestinian uprisings against Israel, as well as the popular phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — a slogan widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

“These calls for genocide and anti-Jewish violence throughout the world represent antisemitic speech and are not protected by the university’s community standards,” Harvard Hillel said on Thursday in a statement obtained by The Algemeiner. “Students were terrified by this protest and the violence it endorsed, and some were unable to resume work for hours after the protests passed.”

Harvard Hillel called on the university to hold both the individuals and organizations involved in the protest “accountable,” specifically naming the school’s Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC), “who promoted these actions that are inconsistent with university policies.” The Jewish group also asked that Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, send a university-wide email to students, staff, and faculty explaining why such actions are not covered by the university’s protected speech and clarifying the consequences for violating them.

The group noted that its members “wholeheartedly support free speech on campus — a sacred right necessary in a free and democratic society. Yet that right does not encompass disruptions to university classes nor hateful slogans chanted on university property. Harvard recognizes this distinction, and therefore rightly does not protect threatening speech or speech that is disruptive to learning on campus.”

The group added” “Protests of this nature have become increasingly normalized on our campus, causing Jewish and Israeli students to avoid class, university events, and dining halls.”

Wednesday’s incident was the latest of several since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel in which Harvard’s campus has been a hub for anti-Israel activists to not only attack the Jewish state but also intimidate and harass Jewish students.

Amid such a hostile environment, Gay denounced the “from the river to the sea” chant, saying it carries “specific historical meanings that to a great many people imply the eradication of Jews from Israel and engender both pain and existential fears within our community.” Pro-Palestinian students have castigated Gay in return, accusing her of squelching speech that addresses what they falsely describe as a “genocide” of Palestinians.

Last week, students protested on campus and issued to Gay a list of demands, which included the reinstatement of a student proctor who three weeks ago participated in mobbing a Jewish student and screaming “Shame!” into his ears. The students presented their demands during their occupation of a campus building. 

Another demand in the letter to Gay called for Harvard to “disclose [its] investments in the internationally recognized illegal settlements in Palestine and divest from those holdings” — an apparent nod to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The BDS campaign seeks to isolate Israel from the international community as a step toward the Jewish state’s eventual elimination.

Harvard has been battling a perception that it harbors antisemitism since the Hamas atrocities in Israel last month, when the Palestinian terror group murdered over 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted more than 240 others back to Gaza. As scenes of Hamas terrorists kidnapping children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide and caused global outrage, 31 student groups at Harvard, led by the PSC, issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack and accusing the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza, despite that the Israeli military withdrew from the territory in 2005.

Responding to the statement, Larry Summers, a former US secretary of the treasury under the Clinton administration and a former president of Harvard University, criticized the student groups for justifying terrorist violence and called out the school’s administration for not disavowing support for terrorism.

“The silence from Harvard’s leadership, so far, coupled with a vocal and widely reported student groups’ statement blaming Israel solely, has allowed Harvard to appear at best neutral towards acts of terror against the Jewish state of Israel,” Summers tweeted. “I cannot fathom the administration’s failure to disassociate the university and condemn this statement.”

Gay, who is the first Black American to hold the job as Harvard’s president, has since said “antisemitism has no place at Harvard” and announced the creation of an Antisemitism Advisory Group.

The group, she explained, plans to implement several reforms, including a historical examination of the roots of antisemitism at Harvard, educational programming highlighting the antisemitic origins of anti-Israel rhetoric, raising awareness of anonymous reporting of antisemitic incidents, forging relationships with external groups, and for the first time ever incorporating Holocaust Remembrance Day and Jewish American Heritage Month into the school’s calendar.

“Harvard was founded to advance human dignity through education,” Gay said earlier this month. “We inherited a faith in reason to overcome ignorance, in truth to surmount hate. Antisemitism is destructive to our mission. We will not solve every disagreement, bridge every divide, heal every wound. But if we shrink from this struggle, we betray our ideals.”

Gay — along with two other presidents of elite universities, Elizabeth Magill of the University of Pennsylvania and Sally Kornbluth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) — have been called to testify before the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Dec. 5 about rising antisemitism on college campuses in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Gallant: Seizing Internal Hamas Documents Brings Hostage Deal Closer

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meeting with IDF commanders, including members of the elite Shayetet 13 marine commando unit, in Atlit, Israel, Jan. 17, 2023. Photo: Ariel Hermoni (Israel’s Ministry of Defense)

i24 NewsIsraeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant provided a review to fellow ministers of weapons and documents belonging to Hamas, which were collected by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Document and Technical Means Collection Unit (Amshat) operating in the Gaza Strip.

“This morning we are hosting the government meeting at the IDF, in the defense establishment, to show the ministers exactly how we are achieving and deepening our achievements and what is coming out of the Gaza Strip,” Gallant explained.

“You can see a small part of the things here – missiles, explosive charges, mines, a great many maps, means of communication, documents, computers, drives, all these things which the IDF uses now on as intelligence, and not only that,” the defense minister continued.

“These demonstrate that we penetrated into the heart of the most sensitive places of Hamas and use their intelligence against them,” Gallant described the process of attaining the documents and weapons, hinting at some of the locations from where it was found.

“We are using their weapons against them, detonating them in the field, all this leads to the consequence of deepening and penetrating the heart of Hamas’ capabilities,” the defense minister said.

“The more we deepen our operations, the closer we get to a realistic deal in order to return the hostages,” Gallant concluded.

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UNRWA Chief Urged to Resign After ‘Absurd’ Pledge of Ignorance

View of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) building in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90.

i24 NewsIsraeli diplomatic leaders called for the resignation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, following denial of knowing about a Hamas data center under the agency’s headquarters in Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) revealed on Saturday night that Hamas built a vast network of tunnels under the UNRWA headquarters, with a base directly underneath that was even hooked up to its grid.

“The exposure of UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters’ deep involvement with Hamas, including its use for terror activities and as an access point to terror tunnels, requires immediate action,” the Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, posted on X.

“Philippe Lazzarini’s claim of unawareness is not only absurd but also an affront to common sense. His prompt resignation is imperative,” Katz concluded.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, also called for the UNRWA Commissioner-General to resign, responding “it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know.”

“We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did you refuse, you chose to stick your head in the sand,” Erdan added in a detailed post on X.

.@UNLazzarini it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know. We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did…

— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) February 10, 2024

“Take responsibility and resign today!” the Israeli ambassador said, “Every day we find more proof that in Gaza the UN=Hamas and vice versa. Anything the UN says or claims about Gaza cannot be trusted.”

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