Harvard faculty, staff form group for 'Justice in Palestine', slam 'unfolding genocide in Gaza'

Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine called on the institution to divest itself from Israel

While Harvard University continues to fend off accusations of antisemitism, more than 65 faculty and staff members have formed a pro-Palestinian advocacy group that denounced "the unfolding genocide in Gaza." 

In a statement released on Jan. 6, a group of 67 Harvard faculty and staff members announced the establishment of a chapter of the national network of Faculty for Justice in Palestine. The newly formed group called on Harvard to withdraw investments from the state of Israel "and companies that sustain Israeli apartheid, settler colonialism, and systemic human rights abuses against Palestinians." 

"The unfolding genocide in Gaza cannot be disconnected from over 75 years of violent dispossession of the Palestinian people. The US government, media, and other institutions of knowledge production have long provided financial, military, moral, and political cover for the Israeli occupation and its colonial, racial violence," members of Harvard Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FSJP) said. 

"Our universities play an integral role in these structures of violence. In addition to investing in companies that maintain the occupation, many — including Harvard — methodically censor, surveil, and discipline students, faculty, and staff for teaching and speech that is critical of the state of Israel."


Pro-Palestinian protesters at Harvard University

Supporters of Palestine gather at Harvard University to show their support for Palestinians in Gaza at a rally in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14, 2023. (JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

A student-led activist group, Students for Justice in Palestine, held anti-Israel protests on campus in the wake of the Oct. 7 terror attack led by Hamas, in which 1,200 Israelis were brutally slaughtered. Anti-Israel activism at the school and the university's initial hesitancy to condemn Hamas led to accusations that Harvard has become tolerant of antisemitism. 

Several Jewish students have since filed a lawsuit against Harvard University, claiming "antisemitism cancer" is growing on campus" and that the institution has hired "professors who support anti-Jewish violence." 

In one example the lawsuit cites, "Harvard FXB Center Visiting Scholar Sawsan Abdulrahim … tweeted a graphic glorifying a Hamas terrorist paraglider a day after Hamas’s massacre and who continues to tweet messages glorifying the Intifada." 

Abdulrahim is a signatory of the FSJP statement. 


Harvard protesters

Supporters of Palestine gather at Harvard University to show their support for Palestinians in Gaza at a rally in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14, 2023.  (JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

The group strongly condemned Harvard's response to pro-Palestinian protests on campus, claiming that students "were subjected to a concerted and escalating campaign of harassment, intimidation, and racist hate speech because of their advocacy for Palestinian rights." 

FSJP pointed to cases of undergraduate students being disciplined for participating in protests and Harvard's invitation for the Cambridge police and FBI to investigate pro-Palestinian activities at the school.

The group also called for Harvard to divest any and all financial ties to Israel and endorsed the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement amid Israel's ongoing war with Hamas. 

Thousands have been killed on both sides during the war — mostly civilians — and Hamas is still holding more than 100 hostages, according to Israel. 


People protesting for Palestinians

Supporters of Palestinians gather at Harvard University to show their support for Palestinians in Gaza at a rally in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14, 2023.  (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

"We wholeheartedly reject accusations that critique of the Israeli state is antisemitic," FSJP said. "We call for the emancipation of all peoples, with liberated futures for both Palestinians and Israelis. Since systems of oppression are deeply interconnected, we further pledge to combat all forms of discrimination and racism at Harvard and outside its walls, including anti-Palestinian racism, anti-Muslim racism, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and antisemitism."

Signatories include members of Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Law School, Harvard Divinity School and nearly half are staff at Harvard Medical School. 

Interim Harvard President Alan Garber on Friday announced the establishment of two task forces to combat antisemitism and Islamophobia on Harvard's campus. 

He said the task forces would examine recent incidents of bias, identify its root causes and recommend how to mitigate it. 

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