More than 100 Harvard professors have composed an open letter condemning the anti-Israel rhetoric at the elite institution. The letter is addressed to President Claudine Gay and the Harvard University leadership and states that while all innocent deaths are tragic, “this should not mislead us to create false equivalencies between the actions leading to this loss.” The authors added that the attack on Israel should have been used as a teaching opportunity to remind students that some acts are “simply wrong.”
The letter condemned a statement published by more than 30 student groups that said Israel was entirely responsible for the conflict, as well as the official reply to that statement.
The published statement by the student groups spared no mercy for Israel, calling the Jewish state an “apartheid regime” whose violence has “structured every aspect of Palestinian existence for 75 years.” It described Israeli defense measures as “colonial retaliation.”
Harvard President Claudine Gay issued an official response to the student statement and distanced the college from its sentiments. Gay assured students of their right to free expression but added that “no student group — not even 30 student groups — speaks for Harvard University or its leadership.”
However, the writers of the latest letter felt that Gay’s message was not strong enough and did not convey the horror of Hamas’s actions. “Sometimes there is such a thing as evil, and it is incumbent upon educators and leaders to call it out,” the letter stated.
The terror attack on Israel and subsequent declaration of war have exacerbated tensions in American colleges, where division was already stark. At New York University School of Law, where parts of the campus were closed for safety concerns, a law professor wrote “Israel bears full responsibility” in a newsletter distributed across campus.
Lawmakers and pro-Israel students responded with outrage; Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres tweeted, “I cannot think of anything more callous and cruel than telling a grieving mother: you had it coming.”