Prominent Harvard University alumni have expressed their disapproval of a pro-Palestinian statement issued by students. The statement, which assigns blame for the ongoing violence in the region solely to Israel, has generated significant controversy among the alumni. Consequently, they are now calling for the university to address the matter by taking appropriate measures against the students who endorsed the statement.

By Staff Reporter

A statement endorsed by numerous student organisations at Harvard University, attributing responsibility to Israel for the ongoing violence following an unprecedented incursion by Hamas fighters into the country, has garnered negative feedback on various social media platforms.

On Saturday, Hamas militants breached a heavily fortified border fence and targeted both civilians and soldiers in Israeli communities along the Gaza frontier.

The Hamas movement, an Islamist militant group that currently controls the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, launched an attack on Israel on Saturday, marking the most significant breach of Israel’s defences since the Arab armies engaged in warfare in 1973.

In response, Israel has carried out multiple air strikes on Gaza. Tragically, the conflict has resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives in both Israel and Gaza.

A collective of 34 student organisations at Harvard University has expressed their belief that the Israeli government bears full responsibility for the ongoing violence, which they attribute to decades of occupation. They further assert that the sole culpability lies with the “apartheid regime”.

The letter was signed by a diverse range of organisations, including Muslim and Palestinian support groups, as well as groups representing various backgrounds such as Harvard Jews for Liberation and the African American Resistance Organization.

The joint statement by Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups on the Situation in Palestine reads:

“We, the undersigned student organisations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence. 

“Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum. For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison. Israeli officials promise to “open the gates of hell,” and the massacres in Gaza have already commenced. Palestinians in Gaza have no shelters for refuge and nowhere to escape. In the coming days, Palestinians will be forced to bear the full brunt of Israel’s violence. 

“The apartheid regime is the only one to blame. Israeli violence has structured every aspect of Palestinian existence for 75 years. From systematized land seizures to routine airstrikes, arbitrary detentions to military checkpoints, and enforced family separations to targeted killings, Palestinians have been forced to live in a state of death, both slow and sudden. 

“Today, the Palestinian ordeal enters into uncharted territory. The coming days will require a firm stand against colonial retaliation. We call on the Harvard community to take action to stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians.”

Harvard President Claudine Gay, along with senior leadership comprising 15 deans, released a formal statement on Monday saying they were, “heartbroken by the death and destruction unleashed by the attack by Hamas that targeted citizens in Israel this weekend.”

However, the statement refrained from making explicit mention of the student letter or the ensuing uproar it generated.

Harvard President Claudine Gay and senior leadership, along with 15 deans, expressed their deep sorrow over the tragic loss of life and devastation caused by the recent attack by Hamas, which specifically targeted Israeli citizens. While addressing this unfortunate event, the statement refrained from directly mentioning the student letter or the ensuing response.

Harvard holds significant sway in American politics, as it has been the alma mater of eight former presidents and four out of the nine current Supreme Court Justices.

Lawrence Summers, the President of Harvard and a former U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton, along with other Harvard alumni, expressed their dissatisfaction with the current leadership at the university for their lack of response.

Writing on social media X (formerly Twitter) Summers said: “The silence from Harvard’s leadership … has allowed Harvard to appear at best neutral towards acts of terror against the Jewish state of Israel,” further adding, “I am sickened.”

Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who graduated from Harvard Law School, also expressed his thoughts on X: “What the hell is wrong with Harvard?”

Universities have historically served as a stronghold for the expression of unrestricted speech and unconventional ideologies. However, the student letter managed to provoke a strong reaction within the political establishment.

Elise Stefanik, a Republican U.S. Representative hailing from New York and an alumna of Harvard University, strongly condemned the statement made by the pro-Palestinian students, characterising it as “abhorrent and heinous” due to its attempt to justify the “slaughter of innocent women and children.”

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