(Daily Caller News Foundation) – A slew of Harvard University faculty members co-signed an open letter calling on university President Claudine Gay to publicly condemn critics of pro-Palestine students.
Over 70 Harvard faculty members signed the Tuesday letter. The faculty members urged Gay to take a forceful stance in favor of student protesters of Israel. The letter also alleged Palestinian students, not Jewish students, are the most marginalized by the ongoing campus flare-up surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“The administration’s refusal to actively protect the free speech of Palestinian, Arab, Black, and Muslim students has had a chilling and dangerous effect across campus. Indeed, the failure to even mention the words ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinians’ —except in one passing reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — or to condemn the killing of Palestinian civilians, is to willfully ignore the fact that it is Palestinian and allied students who are being targeted on our campus,” the letter reads, according to screenshots shared by American Council of Trustees and Alumni fellow Steve McGuire.
Prominent Harvard faculty members signed the letter including History department chair Sidney Chalhoub and Middle Eastern studies director Cemal Kafadar, The Harvard Crimson reported.
The letter said over the past week, there has been a “concerted and escalating” campaign of hateful rhetoric directed towards students critical of Israel, and that minority students have been targeted over their identity, irrespective of their actual stances on the Israel-Hamas conflict. They lamented that members of student groups which co-signed the much-maligned anti-Israel statement were labeled as antisemitic.
“Large mobile screens displaying the photos and names of Harvard students and calling them ‘anti-Semites’ circulated in Harvard Square,” the faculty members wrote. “In several instances, Palestinian, Arab, Black, and Muslim students have been targeted not for any viewpoints expressed but for the very fact of being members of those communities.”
The faculty said Hamas’ attack against Israel “caused unjustifiable and condemnable civilian casualties.” However, the letter went on to blame Israel for creating the conditions which led to them, arguing “[s]ystemic Israeli state violence has defined Palestinian life in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip since 1948.”
The letter also condemned Israel’s current military campaign against Hamas, arguing the Jewish state’s actions are motivated by an anti-Palestinian racial animus.
“All signs indicate that this is just the beginning,” the letter reads. “As Israel continues its indiscriminate bombing of civilian spaces homes, schools, universities, hospitals, ambulances it has also cut off civilian infrastructures of food, water, fuel, and medicine essential for the sustenance of life. This kind of collective punishment against civilians, whom the Israeli government has long racially dehumanized and now describes as ‘human animals,’ is illegal under international law.”
The faculty members said although they were happy Gay affirmed “free expression” on campus amid intense backlash against pro-Hamas protests and statements, they are upset she has apparently not mentioned the word “Palestine” or “Palestinians.”
“Your words and actions in the days to come will have a huge impact on all our students, on our campus, and indeed across the country. Publicly stating that you see our Palestinian students in their suffering and humanity can make a palpable difference,” the faculty members wrote, according to the screenshots.
“We call on you, and the Harvard leadership, to publicly and unequivocally condemn the intimidation and harassment of Palestinian, Arab, Black, and Muslim students and other supporters of Palestinian liberation at Harvard.”
The Israel-Hamas war has reportedly sparked a firestorm of conflict on Harvard’s campus, pitting pro-Palestinian students and faculty against Jewish students and donors. A coalition of over 30 Harvard student groups co-signed a statement blaming Israel for the Hamas attack, an action which caused some donors to flee and condemnation by corporate big wigs. One law firm reportedly rescinded employment offers for Harvard students with alleged connections to groups that co-signed the letter.
Gay publicly condemned the student groups’ statement, saying, “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,” The Harvard Crimson reported in a separate article.