Days of Palestine – Washington
Forty-nine staff members at Harvard University have signed an open letter endorsing the Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions movement and student efforts to oppose Israeli apartheid.
“Israeli state violence has devastated Palestinian life through a combination of warfare, territorial theft, and violent displacement,” read the letter.
“Unwavering US financial, military and political support has fueled the systemic domination and repression of Palestinians. In 2018, Jewish supremacy in Israel was given legal sanction through the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law, which makes the right to national self-determination in Israel unique to the Jewish people and defines Jewish settlement as a national value.”
The letter echoed reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem that document widespread human rights violations against Palestinians and an institutionalized system of segregation and discrimination against Palestinians, in all areas under Israeli control amounts to a system of apartheid.
“It is this larger context of escalating ethnonationalism violence that the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee addressed in its Israeli Apartheid Week of events. It is also the context that prompted The Harvard Crimson to publish its April 29 editorial in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and Palestinian liberation,” the signatories said.
The letter criticized a statement penned by a number of Harvard faculty members in opposition to the Crimson editorial which endorsed BDS, saying: “The statement makes no mention of the dispossession of Palestinian land by ever-expanding settlements, the siting of educational institutions on settlement land as a means of solidifying the Israeli occupation, the routine incarceration and killing of Palestinian protestors, the eviction of Palestinians and destruction of their homes, and the gunning down of Palestinian journalists.”
The letter continued, “It is especially troubling that a group of faculty, including former Harvard president Lawrence Summers, has gone to such lengths to criticize the political stances of students in the name of a respectful and inclusive learning environment. The irony of leveraging the stark imbalance of power between faculty and students in order to obscure the gross asymmetries in power between Israel and Palestinians seems to be lost on them. So too is the inherent contradiction of censoring criticism of Israel in the name of intellectual exchange.”
“We strongly oppose such tactics of intimidation and applaud the Crimson editors and the Palestine Solidarity Committee for their moral clarity and fortitude in defending Palestinian rights against consistent efforts to deny them. It is students like these who make our university proud. We stand with them and the Palestinian people in their principled opposition to Israeli apartheid.”