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Singing ‘Hatikvah’ in the Palestinian stronghold at Harvard

The anti-Israel wave across the U.S. has made life unbearable for Jewish students. "We will not allow our haters to do as they please," Liat, a doctoral student, tells Israel Hayom.

The Harvard University “Free Palestine Camp” that started in the spring semester, May 2, 2024. Credit: Dariusz Jemielniak (“Pundit”) via Wikimedia Commons.
The Harvard University “Free Palestine Camp” that started in the spring semester, May 2, 2024. Credit: Dariusz Jemielniak (“Pundit”) via Wikimedia Commons.

Amid a wave of protests by pro-Palestinian students across the United States, Jewish students have decided to launch a counterattack against displays of antisemitism.

Liat (not her real name), a doctoral student at Harvard University, together with other students, entered the anti-Israel lion’s den on campus—the protest encampment from which calls against Israel emanated, and where students expressed solidarity with Hamas’ terrorist acts.

“Feeling that the administration was abandoning the Jewish and Israeli students and trying to avoid taking effective action, we decided to take steps ourselves. Our aim was to shake things up, demonstrating that this situation is unacceptable to us and cannot continue in this manner,” Liat told Israel Hayom. “We wanted to convey the message that we do not accept our exclusion from campus and the administration’s indifference to what is happening on campus. We entered the hateful encampment area, showed our presence and made our voices heard.”

Upon entering the anti-Israel protest encampment, the Jewish students began marching with signs bearing pictures of the Israeli hostages held captive in Gaza, and sang the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah.”

“The hostile students stood around us, filming and keeping their distance, but did not make contact or touch us. They did not expect this. Their arrogant smiles were replaced by looks of anger and shock. They were very displeased, to say the least,” said Liat.

She added that their protest was coordinated with Harvard’s security authorities, who increased their presence in the area.

“We knew that the pro-Palestinian students were keeping an eye on people they identified as not being ‘one of them.’ We anticipated that they would remember our faces and potentially follow us around campus. It’s upsetting. There’s always a certain level of apprehension, however, up until now they haven’t been violent. We entered the encampment as a group, which definitely gave us a sense of strength and security.”

Carrying pictures of the hostages on campus

Since Oct. 7, Liat and her friends have felt a hostile atmosphere toward pro-Israel and Jewish students on campus.

“Ever since the protests started, people wearing keffiyehs appeared everywhere. We received no empathy for our pain, and they systematically tore down posters of the hostages that we had hung up. A week after the Hamas massacre, we decided to stand with pictures of the hostages at central intersections on campus, and we received wonderful reactions, alongside hostile ones that showed a lot of hatred, antisemitism, and ignorance.”

According to Liat, “There are many posters on campus accusing Israel of all sorts of blood libels. There are also events and lectures surrounding this issue. Beyond that, lecturers who deny the events of Oct. 7 have been invited as guest speakers. Ever since the encampment was set, there have been many loud demonstrations disrupting classes. How can one concentrate in class while people are calling to ‘globalize the intifada’ outside? We’re talking about 60 students who set up dozens of tents.”

Moreover, she says, many Jewish students no longer feel safe on campus and have even started leaving the premises.

“Some of the Jewish students living on campus have asked their parents to rent a hotel room for them, and there are students who, since the massacre, have been hiding their Jewishness,” she said.

Liat emphasized that she and her friends will continue to make their voices heard on campus. “We will not allow our haters to do as they please.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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