By Ken Cohen
(JNS/FLAME) Judging by its recent editorial endorsing the BDS movement, The Harvard Crimson—the most renowned student newspaper in the world—has taken the position that Israel must be obliterated.
Unfortunately, the editorial is riddled with errors, omissions and breathtaking superficiality—belying Harvard University’s reputed academic excellence.
For starters, Harvard’s elite student editors hid the fact that Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, has repeatedly stated, “Definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine,” adding that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance.” That last phrase is Palestinian speak for “terrorist murder of Israeli Jews.”
Nor did Crimson’s editors quote the favored slogan of the Harvard chapter of the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC), which proclaims its goal is a Palestinian state “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.” This objective aligns with Palestinian Authority and Hamas maps and flags that bear no trace of a nation called Israel.
The Crimson op-ed extols and endorses the Harvard PSC throughout, with no dissent whatever regarding its central and explicit call for the annihilation of the Jewish state.
The editorial glowingly describes the recent PSC-sponsored Israel Apartheid Week’s “colorful” banners festooning Harvard Yard. We don’t know if the Crimson staff were equally smitten with the banners accusing Israel of “Racism, Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy and Apartheid,” as well as the Israel-less maps and murals depicting Jews as Nazis, brutally assaulting and murdering Palestinians.
The Crimson’s editorial board was at pains to deny it is anti-Semitic, but it is impossible to read their full-throated endorsement of the BDS movement in any other way.
In this case, anti-Zionism is most certainly also anti-Semitism. If you deny the self-determination of a 3,000-year-old indigenous people returning to their ancient homeland to form the world’s only Jewish state, where no other state existed—and that’s the only state in the world you demonize and delegitimize—that’s an egregious double standard, and that’s anti-Semitic.
Former Harvard president Lawrence Summers called on “all members of the Harvard community, including its current leadership, to make clear their righteous opposition to BDS’s anti-Semitism … and those organizations that support it.”
Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow has declined to condemn the editorial or its anti-Semitism.
Alan Dershowitz, the noted Harvard Law professor, describes the editorial as “ignorant, discriminatory and deceptive.” As one example, he cites the editorial’s statement that “Israeli soldiers have killed nearly 50 Palestinians” this year, noting that the authors fail to mention that most of those killed were engaged in terrorism against Israeli civilians.
The Crimson editorial also claims that Israel is “assault[ing] the West Bank’s sovereignty.” In fact, the West Bank—and Palestinian Arabs in general—have never exercised sovereignty anywhere. What’s more—maybe the students aren’t aware—the Oslo Accords give Israel security control over most of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
Historically, the Palestinians’ lack of sovereignty is not Israel’s fault. The Crimson never mentions that—on multiple occasions—Israel has offered land to the Palestinians for an independent state. Also not noted: These generous Israeli offers were rejected, usually with massive outbreaks of Palestinian terrorism, such as the Second Intifada.
Likewise, the Crimson editorial never explains how—once the BDS movement’s maximalist Palestinian wishes come true—a “democratic and free Palestine” can be achieved “from the river to the sea” given the area’s current majority-Jewish population. There are just two ways to do this: mass expulsion or mass murder.
Where exactly do the Harvard Crimson geniuses imagine millions of Israeli Jews will go to assure that “The State of Palestine” has a Palestinian majority in its democracy? All the signs are—to understate matters—troubling.
Yet again, the Crimson screed neglects to address these key facts related to resolving the Palestinians’ “Jewish problem”:
Hamas, the ruler of Gaza, is pledged in its Charter to the extermination of all Jews.
The Palestinian Authority, which governs a large tract of land in Judea and Samaria, already prohibits Jews from land ownership or residence anywhere in the territories that it governs, and already pays generous bounties to terrorist Jew-killers and their families under its the “Pay-for-Slay” program.
With bold chutzpah, the Crimson editorial quotes Emma Lazarus’s description of “people yearning to breathe free” and applies it to the Palestinians—as if the BDS movement were a ship sailing past the Statue of Liberty into Ellis Island. Under the corrupt and autocratic leaders of the Palestinian people, freedom will remain a distant vision for the Palestinians, even as they dance on the graves of Israelis.
Indeed, over decades of P.A. and Hamas leadership, the only Palestinian Arabs in the area who have “breathed free” and enjoyed full civil rights are those who live in Israel—a liberal democracy with a judiciary that energetically protects all people under its sovereignty.
Why should Harvard’s president join 66 faculty members, one brave Crimson editor and many prominent Harvard alumni in repudiating the Crimson’s endorsement of BDS?
Because the Harvard Crimson isn’t just another student paper.
Its past editors-in-chief include future presidents John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and its list of writers and editors overflows with key influencers in America and abroad. The Harvard Crimson staff today is a future “Who’s Who” of American leadership in government, journalism, education and industry.
To paraphrase: What happens in the Harvard Crimson doesn’t stay in the Harvard Crimson … rather, it reverberates through elite intellectual ranks of American society for decades.
Alumni, faculty, Harvard trustees and responsible public figures should demand that the Crimson—and Harvard—retract this disgraceful attack on the Jewish state and its Jewish citizenry.
All people of goodwill must actively rebut the Crimson, its anti-Semitism and its anti-Zionism, and work to nullify the vast damage that can result from its ignorant, dishonest and sophomoric endorsement of BDS.
Ken Cohen is co-editor of the Hotline published by Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which offers educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.