update deskSchools & Higher Education

‘Daily Wire’: Harvard defends partnership with Birzeit, long tied to Hamas

A spokeswoman for the Ivy League university said that student government elections at Birzeit University, which include supporters of the terrorist organization, aren’t “germane.”

Supporters of the Hamas terror group at a rally before student elections at Birzeit University near Ramallah on May 6, 2014. Credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90.
Supporters of the Hamas terror group at a rally before student elections at Birzeit University near Ramallah on May 6, 2014. Credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90.

Harvard University, whose president Claudine Gay resigned earlier this month weeks after she testified before a House committee that it wouldn’t necessarily violate the Ivy League’s schools policies to call for genocide against Jews, is partnering with a Palestinian university in Judea and Samaria that appears to endorse calls for genocide against Jews.

That’s according to a report by Kassy Dillon in The Daily Wire about the summer course in “Palestine social medicine,” upon which Harvard’s François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights is partnering with Birzeit University.

Per the Harvard website, the three-week class (the same course was offered once before) will include 20 students based in “Palestine” and 10 stateside. Harvard describes the course as taking place in “occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.”

Harvard adds that “due to the current circumstances in Palestine, the contingency plan is to host the course in Amman, Jordan, or Beirut, Lebanon.” That would seem to potentially preclude the participation of Jewish students, as the U.S. State Department notes about Lebanon: “Travelers with a family name deemed to be of Israeli or Jewish origin may also be questioned or detained.”

It came to light in 2014, when a left-wing reporter was kicked out of a conference, that Birzeit University officially bars Israeli Jews from campus. “It is unclear if this policy is still in place,” Daily Wire reported.

‘Concerns regarding Harvards continued partnership’

A lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts on Jan. 10 and released on Jan. 11 against Harvard by plaintiffs Alexander Kestenbaum and Students Against Antisemitism, Inc. alleges that the university “has become a bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment” and notes that Jews “are being denied equal access to Harvard’s educational opportunities.”

The suit also cites “concerns regarding Harvard’s continued partnership with Birzeit University in the West Bank, which openly discriminates against Jews, and promotes Hamas and its terrorism.”

“Among other things, Birzeit’s buildings and events are named after convicted terrorists; military parades on campus feature students wearing mock explosive vests while waving Hamas flags; in May 2022, Hamas won the majority of Birzeit student government seats; and, two weeks before the Oct. 7 massacre, eight students were arrested with weapons and plans to carry out a terrorist attack,” per the lawsuit. “Rather than end its affiliation with this antisemitic, terrorism-supporting university, Harvard touts its Birzeit partnership.”

“Since Oct. 7, Harvard’s FXB Center co-sponsored a webinar with Birzeit on Dec. 11, Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Birzeit University Museum have organized at least 14 ‘teach-in’ sessions to put ‘Gaza in context’—which include discussions on ‘Israel’s onslaught against Palestinians’—and the FXB Center recently opened applications for its summer 2024 Palestine Social Medicine course at Birzeit,” the suit adds.

Birzeit University
Hamas supporters wave the terror group’s flag during a rally at Birzeit University near Ramallah on May 19, 2022. Credit: Flash90.

Three days after Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on Oct. 7, Birzeit University posted that it “expresses its sincere condolences to its staff and students, who, every day of the ongoing war on the Gaza Strip, lose loved ones and relatives and calls on the world to halt this onslaught. Glory for martyrs, recovery for wounded ones and freedom for the captives.”

The university did not post about the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and has not deleted a post accusing Israel of “the massacre in Ahli Arab Hospital (Baptist) in Gaza, resulting in more than 500 martyrs.” The New York Times has since said that it relied too heavily on information from Hamas in its reporting on the hospital blast, which is acknowledged to have resulted from a faulty rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

On Dec. 8, Birzeit appeared to call for violence against Jews. “On this day 36 years ago, the first intifada started from Jabaliya camp, and later spread throughout all of Palestine; portraying a perfect example of national unity in the face of the oppression,” it posted.

A Harvard spokesperson told Dillon that the university “is a public institution governed by an autonomous board of trustees with no political, religious or sectarian affiliation.”

Dillon’s report also notes that the university’s student body has twice voted overwhelmingly “for a Hamas-affiliated bloc in its student government elections.” The student government president and other students were arrested by Israel and accused of planning a terror attack. Some reportedly confessed. But the co-director of the Harvard program condemned Israel: “These raids violate the right of Palestinians to education, freedom of speech and freedom of association.”

“Student government elections at Birzeit typically involve candidates affiliated with each of the major political parties in the region, including Hamas,” Stephanie Simon, Harvard’s dean for communications and strategic initiatives, told Daily Wire.

“These student government elections are not germane to and have not affected the FXB Center’s work with the scholars and students at Birzeit’s Institute of Community and Public Health,” she added.

The university describes itself on its website as “a thorn in the side of the occupation, insisting on playing its role of enlightenment and creating a multicultural Palestinian society on the campus grounds.” Terrorists, including those responsible for the deaths of many Israeli civilians, are among Birzeit’s alumni ranks, and the university has celebrated some of them, per Daily Wire.

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