Harvard University is enmeshed in another antisemitism controversy following reports that a Middle Eastern studies professor has invited Dalal Saeb Iriqat, an extreme anti-Zionist and alleged advocate of terrorism, to the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)
According to The Harvard Crimson, Tarek. E Masoud, director of Harvard’s Middle East Initiative (MEI), invited Dalal Saeb Iriqat as a speaker for MEI’s “Middle East Dialogue Series,” a slate of interviews that will also include former government officials such presidential adviser Jared Kushner and former Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister Salam Fayyad.
Iriqat, a Palestinian instructor employed by Arab American University, located in the West Bank city of Jenin, is most known for defending Hamas’ murdering and raping of civilians during its massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, an act she described on social media as “just a normal human struggle.”
In other posts, she said, “We will never forgive the Israeli right wing extreme government for making us take their children and elderly as hostages” and “The Israeli public need to realize that their own government had caused all this bloodshed and they remain the ones responsible for this [escalation] and losses of civilian lives.”
Masoud told The Harvard Crimson that he disagrees with Iriqat’s opinions but nothing about his bringing her to campus is inappropriate.
“If you are going to engage with Palestinians, you’re going to have to engage with these ideas,” he told the paper. “My view is that we have to subject these ideas — and all the ideas that we encounter — to polite but rigorous inquiry.”
He added, “For too long we haven’t done this work because we were more concerned with psychological safety rather than education. What I want is for our community to transcend emotions when confronted with ideas or speakers that we dislike, bring our best selves and strongest arguments to the table, and have it out.”
The US House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce is investigating Harvard University to determine whether it refused to address antisemitic discrimination on the campus — before and after Oct. 7 — and cynically defended the choice as observance of free speech protections enumerated in the first amendment of the US Constitution.
In a January letter requesting documents relevant to the committee’s investigation, Committee Chairwoman Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) cited numerous widely reported antisemitic incidents that occurred at Harvard last semester, including the mobbing of a Jewish student by a throng of anti-Israel activists — one of whom was the editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — screaming “Shame!” into his ears as he tried to get away. Students there have also chanted openly “globalize the intifada” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which are widely interpreted as calls for violence against Jews and the destruction of Israel.
For Harvard, America’s oldest institution of higher education and arguably its most prestigious, the presence of radical anti-Zionists on campus has been a persistent issue. At the start of this academic year, a student and anti-Israel activist interrupted a convocation ceremony held by the school, shouting at Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana, “Here’s the real truth — Harvard supports, upholds, and invests in Israeli apartheid, and the oppression of Palestinians!”
The broader public did not take notice of the problem until Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, when, as scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide, 31 student groups at Harvard 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.
The string of controversies ultimately led to the resignation as president of Claudine Gay, who told a Foxx’s committee in December that her determining whether calling for a genocide of Jews violates school rules would depend “on the context” in which the statement was uttered.
Harvard Kennedy School told The Harvard Crimson in a statement that Dean Douglas Elmendorf “personally finds abhorrent the comments by Dalal Saeb Iriqat quoted in the press that justify and normalize the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas” and that “an invitation to speak at the Kennedy School never implies an endorsement of a speaker’s views by the Kennedy School or members of the Kennedy School community.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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British Columbia’s Jewish community is outraged after MLA Selina Robinson is removed from cabinet over remarks about Israel
Leaders of the British Columbia Jewish community have reacted with dismay to the decision by David Eby, the province’s premier, to remove Selina Robinson from her position as minister of post-secondary education and future skills on Feb. 5 due to remarks she made the previous week during an online discussion. While speaking on a panel […]
Gaza Border Residents Demand A Return Home, Four Months Into War
Israelis from the Gaza Envelope are calling on the government to approve their return home, roughly four months since the war’s outbreak on October 7.
The head of the Scot Negev Regional Council, Tamir Idan, said outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, “We demand a clear statement from the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister that it is safe to return to the area. Until then we are not moving from here.”
The heads of the other regional councils in the Gaza area joined Idan outside the Prime Minister’s office, where they slept last night in protest.
The regional leaders say that members of the Gaza border towns should be allowed to return to the areas if they wish, rather than being forced to live in hotels. An internal plan is set to be presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in the near future.
The heads claim it is safe to return home, and are demanding that the government sign off on such a statement so residents can do so. Their protest comes as the government extended the funds allocated for their stay at hotels until July.
Following the October 7 massacre by Hamas terrorists, when they stormed southern Israel, murdering over 1,200 and taking hostage more than 240, tens of thousands of Israelis from the area were uprooted from their homes and placed in hotels in the Jerusalem area, Eilat, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea region. Since then, they have been living there full time, with makeshift schools set up for children and activities to keep everyone occupied. The move has also led local businesses to be completely shuttered.
Some Israelis have already moved back to their towns, which is technically allowed but under their own risk — rockets still fly near daily from Gaza and the IDF is operating within the Gaza Strip, which is minutes away from certain border towns.
The plan presented by the regional heads, they say, would mean that the towns are technically safe to return to, and therefore the risk falls under the government and the military.
This is as tens of thousands of Israelis from northern towns also remain out of their homes, with no current timeline for return due to the constant threat of Hezbollah missiles and the potential the war extends to the north.
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Australian Politician Says ‘Jewish Lobby’ Uses ‘Tentacles’ to ‘Influence Power’
Video of a left-wing Australian politician discussing how “the Jewish lobby and the Zionist lobby” are using their “tentacles” to “influence power” went viral on Tuesday, sparking backlash from the Australian Jewish community.
Jenny Leong, an Australia Greens member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, spoke on a panel for the Palestine Justice Movement in December to promote boycotting Israel.
“The Jewish lobby and the Zionist lobby are infiltrating into every single aspect of what is ethnic community groups,” Leong said during the panel. “They rock up and they’re part of the campaign,” and “they offer solidarity.”
She continued: “They [the Jewish and Zionist lobby] rock up to every community meeting and event to offer that connection because their tentacles reach into the areas that try and influence power and I think that we need to call that out and expose that.”
Leong has plumbed new and dangerous depths by using one of the oldest and darkest antisemitic tropes… pic.twitter.com/P9LokLFQwU
— NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (@NSWJBD) February 6, 2024
The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, which is the representative of Jews who live in New South Wales, called the remarks “despicable,” adding that “Leong has plumbed new and dangerous depths by using one of the oldest and darkest antisemitic tropes to accuse Jews of covertly manipulating civic life. She has outrageously suggested that there is a sinister or evil purpose associated with Jews undertaking the most normal of activities – interacting with other Australians.”
Josh Burns, a Labor member of the Australian House of Representatives, said her comments were “a direct attack on Jewish people in Australia” and that “she should unreservedly apologize.” He also called on the Australian Greens to “take responsibility and demonstrate that Jewish people in Australia are safe and respected by their Party.”
The right-leaning Australian Jewish Association wrote on X that “Every credible political party must put the Greens last. Every non-racist fair minded person must put the Greens last.”
In response to the criticism, Leong apologized for specifically using the word “tentacles,” but not for her message. She said: “Speaking on a panel during a two-hour-long event last year, I acknowledge that I used a word at one point that was an inappropriate descriptor for the influence of groups backing Netanyahu’s genocidal attacks in Gaza and the ongoing occupation – I apologise that this has caused offence.”
She continued: “It is incredibly telling that after a conversation where myself and other speakers made countless mentions of the genocidal attacks and occupation occurring in Gaza right now, that two months later more focus isn’t being put on the deaths of over 26,000 people, many of them children.”
Her comments and apology come amid increasing concern over antisemitism on the far-left, which has celebrated violent resistance against Israel since October 7, when Hamas invaded the country, killed 1,200 people, and kidnapped more than 240 more.
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