In a breathtaking display of tendentiousness and a misreading of history and fact, you published an editorial on April 29 in The Harvard Crimson titled, “In Support of Boycott, Divest, Sanction and a Free Palestine,” an outrageous column replete with slanders against the Jewish state that called for the Harvard community to commit itself to the corrosive BDS campaign against Israel.
You suggested that the editorial was inspired by the April demonstrations and programming of the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee (HCPSC) which, as part of Israeli Apartheid Week, “installed a colorful, multi-panel ‘Wall of Resistance’ in favor of Palestinian freedom and sovereignty.”
Even more importantly, you contended, fallaciously: “The admittedly controversial panels dare the viewer to contend with well-established, if rarely stated, facts.”
What are examples of those “facts” you alluded to? One panel announced in capital letters, for example, that “Zionism is: Racism‒Settler Colonialism‒White Supremacy‒Apartheid,” mendacious slurs that echo the notorious 1975 Resolution 3379 issued by the United Nations that proclaimed that Zionism is racism.
Framing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a matter of race, as this foolish display did, and accusing Israel of maintaining a system of apartheid is something that Israel-haters are fond of doing, even when the charge is patently false. And the puerile accusation of white supremacy against Israel is as grotesque and unhinged as is the oft-repeated claim that Israelis are the new Nazis, committing genocide against the Palestinians. Both are not only counter-factual but also forms of anti-Semitic expression described in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.
Of course, your claim that the “facts” on the HCPSC mock wall are “well-established” is only true inasmuch as these are facts that live in the minds of progressives and anti-Semites who carelessly throw around words without attention to their actual meaning and import.
Your other preposterous contention that these attitudes towards Israel—these supposed facts—are “rarely stated” is so naive that only college students who have just begun to counter anti-activism could possibly believe them since the campaign to slander, libel and destroy the Jewish state has been in high gear for some two decades, and this counter-factual language and the allegations within it have been and continues to be ubiquitous on campuses worldwide. It requires no bravery at all to be an enemy of Israel on university campuses seeped in such activism, as much as you try to impute bravery on the part of those who promote Palestinianism.
In justifying your position in this debate, you remarked: “It is our categorical imperative to side with and empower the vulnerable and oppressed.” Really? Does that include Jewish civilians who are being stabbed, rammed with cars, blown up and showered with rockets in their sleep by the genocidal terrorist organization of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and lone-wolf Palestinian terrorists? Or it is only the Palestinians you care about, who have rejected statehood when offered to them on multiple occasions, preferring instead to mount an endless resistance against a sovereign state they cannot and will not abide simply because its residents are Jews?
Calling for a BDS campaign to be unleashed against Israel demands that, among the many and various calamitous examples of human strife and suffering occurring around the world, Harvard should focus on and commit to denouncing only one: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And more than that—just as the Third Reich and Arab League before them—you wish to target Jewish businesses, organizations and educational institutions, and expel them from the world community.
You yearn for the “liberation of Palestine,” but what do you assume such an event would result in? When you refer to a liberated Palestine, are you talking about the West Bank and Gaza, areas that would comprise a new Palestinian state? Or are you really describing and eagerly imagining a liberated Palestine that BDS supporters and their fellow travelers in the Arab world and in the West actually seek—one that includes, and subsumes, present-day Israel?
Israel knows this because of its experience after cleansing Gaza of all of its Jews, that instead of working on the creation of the beginnings of a state for themselves in the Strip, the Palestinians allowed Hamas to transform Gaza into a terror enclave from which to continually assault Israel. And that is something Israelis understandably imagine could happen again were the West Bank to be totally controlled by the Palestinian Authority, Fatah or in another scenario, Hamas.
Conspicuously absent from your editorial is any questioning or critique of Palestinian agency, responsibility, behavior, political decisions or even the nature of their culture and society. You feel very comfortable, sitting in the safety of your Harvard Square offices, hectoring Israel to tear down its security wall, welcoming millions of Jew-hating Arabs into its country as citizens, abandoning territory it rightfully owns or won in defensive wars, and otherwise making any concession you and other critics of the Jewish state demand of Israel, even to its own detriment and physical safety—consequences you apparently could care less about in your relentless quest for social justice for the long-aggrieved Palestinians.
You make a careless reference to Israel’s killing of Palestinians, including children, without any context, failing to mention, of course, the inconvenient fact that since the 1920s, Arabs have resisted, through violence and attacks, any Jewish presence in the Holy Land, including to the current day. Like other enemies of Israel, you are quick to count Arab bodies when they are killed by Jews, but carelessly and immorally ignore the deaths of innocent Jews in Israel at the hands of psychopathic murderers who randomly attack civilians without provocation, including the 15 innocent people murdered randomly in the streets in the past month as part of an uninterrupted campaign of terror that you and your fellow travelers help justify when you euphemistically excuse “resistance” on the part of Palestinians.
The plea in your editorial to employ the corrosive BDS campaign as a part of the cognitive war against the Jewish state again reveals that you are either ignorant of or indifferent to the actual stated intention of that movement—namely, extirpating Israel completely, thereby “liberating” Palestine and removing any annoying “racist” Jews from what is now modern-day Israel.
Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech and president emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of “Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.”