add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );Harvard Students Face Backlash After Controversial Pro-Palestinian Letter - BANG.
Kira Wanandi / Gavel Media

Harvard Students Face Backlash After Controversial Pro-Palestinian Letter

Following Hamas’ devastating invasion of Israel, several Harvard Palestinian student groups released a statement addressing the conflict. The statement emphasized the role that Israel played in the terrorist attack, proclaiming that they “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” Their words addressed the notion that these acts of violence “did not occur in a vacuum” and that Palestinians have also been victims to this ongoing conflict. 

Students and viewers from all over the country took to Instagram, where the letter was posted, to show their support and condemnation for the writers and co-signers and their controversial take on the topic. The frenzy of negative attention towards the post, which was co-signed by 33 other student organizations, led the Palestinian support group to take down the names of the co-signers and postpone their solidarity vigil, reporting “credible safety concerns.” The vigil was then held on October 14th and the student organizations that hosted the event required attending students to wear masks in order to protect their identities. 

The Harvard students who had co-signed the letter have faced backlash online and in person. Many Harvard professors have expressed their disappointment in the statement. Former Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to share his outrage, remarking that “in 50 years of Harvard affiliation, I have never been as disillusioned and alienated as I am today.” Most of the backlash has come from members outside of the Harvard community, including many prominent CEOs. 

These CEOs and important figures in the business world have called on Harvard to release the signatories' names so that they may be blacklisted. Billionaire and CEO Bill Ackerman expressed his rage at the statement in a thread on X, commenting that "I have been asked by a number of CEOs if Harvard would release a list of the members of each of the Harvard organizations that have issued the letter assigning sole responsibility for Hamas' heinous acts to Israel, so as to ensure that none of us inadvertently hire any of their members." Although Ackerman stood by his statement, he did acknowledge that now is not the time to “vilify individuals.”

Meanwhile, on campus, students who originally supported the letter are being doxxed. A truck has been spotted driving by Harvard’s campus with screens showing the names and photos of the signatories, proclaiming them as “Harvard’s biggest Anti-Semites.” Likewise, the students' personal information has been posted online and many of them report that their siblings and parents have been contacted. Although Harvard has increased security in and around the campus, there isn't much the school can do because the truck is only driving on public streets surrounding the campus. 

Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, reminded the public that  “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.” Gay attempted to distance herself and the university from the controversial statement and continues to condemn Hamas for their deadly attack, despite outcry from some students who claim that their freedom of speech has been violated. 

 Although many people disagree with the students’ statement, they agree that someone should not be doxxed or prevented from employment based on their political views. Both sides should be able to voice their opinions without fear of violence, especially at a university where students are meant to learn about themselves, others, and the world around them.