Letter from Harvard students supporting Palestine creates backlash

by ian


A group of Harvard students is experiencing swift backlash for a controversial take concerning the attacks on Israel.

A letter written by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee, or PSC, is what caused the controversy. This letter, which was co-signed by 33 student organizations, was issued shortly after reports surfaced of the attack by Hamas on Saturday.

It reads:

We … 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….


The apartheid regime [of Israel] is the only one to blame. Israeli violence has structured every aspect of Palestinian existence for 75 years….


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.

The letter was scrutinized and condemned by professors on campus before becoming a nationwide target.

Many of Harvard’s leaders and professors called for the PSC to be disaffiliated from the university while saying the message was “morally unconscionable.” Even U.S. politicians joined in once the letter went national, with both sides of the aisle decrying the letter for promoting terrorist actions.

The letter had worse implications than sharp criticisms, however. Reports suggest that CEOs of some companies are demanding that Harvard release the names of students involved in the organizations who signed it.

They want the names released so they can avoid hiring these students, essentially blacklisting them from future career opportunities.

The backlash against the letter eventually led some of these student groups to withdraw their names from the original letter just days after it was issued. Some said they withdrew their names out of regret, others say they were misled into signing the letter.

The PSC also tried to smooth over the criticisms by issuing a statement saying it “opposes violence against civilians – Palestinian, Israeli, or other.”

As for Harvard, the university president has since said that “no student group – not even 30 student groups – speaks for Harvard University or its leadership.”