OpinionBoycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS)

Why did ‘The Harvard Crimson’ decide to take on Israel?

The paper’s editorial board owes the university’s community and alumni a clarification regarding its “proud” endorsement of a group that works for the dissolution of Jewish state.

“The Harvard Crimson” Building at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Credit: Beyond My Ken via Wikimedia Commons.
“The Harvard Crimson” Building at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Credit: Beyond My Ken via Wikimedia Commons.
Dan Diker (Facebook)
Dan Diker
Dan Diker is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the longtime director of its Counter-Political Warfare Project.

On Friday, April 29, Melbourne University in Australia passed a BDS movement resolution accusing Israel of “ongoing ethnic cleansing, apartheid, attacks on innocent worshippers,” and characterizing Zionism as “a racist, colonial ideology.” This “Nazification” of the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people, which reflects BDS’s basic position, should not surprise anyone familiar with the BDS movement and its core claim that Israel should never have been reestablished in 1948, and should now be dismantled and replaced by a 23rd Arab Muslim majority state.

Yet, The Harvard Crimson‘s April 29 editorial “In Support of Boycott, Divest, Sanctions and a Free Palestine” legitimizes and normalizes BDS’s core claim and genocidal rhetoric.

While it claims to oppose all forms of anti-Semitism, the paper has uncritically embraced Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee’s new, Israel-focused anti-Semitism.  Notwithstanding the self-adulatory April 30 tweet by the Crimson’s Jewish editorial board chairperson, Orlee Marini Rapoport’s (“I’m so proud to be part of this thoughtful group”), she and the board exhibit either stunning ignorance of BDS’s political ideology or malice aforethought in endorsing the PSC’s totalitarian goals.

As opposed to the Nazis, whose genocide was racially motivated, the PSC’s BDS crusade seeks the annihilation of the Jewish state “in the name of human rights and our common humanity,” as former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler warned in a recent zoom expose of BDS. Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement and a stalwart Harvard PSC guest, has repeated ad nauseam that BDS does not seek a two-state-for-two-peoples compromise; it seeks Israel’s destruction.

The Crimson has proudly endorsed the PSC, a group that works for the dissolution of the Jewish state under the deceptive slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” This chant can be heard on some 250 campuses across the United States where PSC and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), led by Hatem Bazian, maintain branches.

Does the board agree with PSC’s goal of dismantling the Jewish and democratic state to “free Palestine”?

One indication that it does can be found on Harvard’s PSC website. It features a 2019 solidarity panel featuring Rutgers professor Mark Lamont Hill and former Harvard professor Cornell West, both of whom have “canceled” the Jewish state as apartheid and called for its dissolution. Lamont Hill called for “a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” in a speech to the United Nations on Nov. 29, 2018.

The PSC’s “Israel apartheid” narrative and Holocaust inversion date back to a 1961 declaration by then PLO chairman Ahmad Shukeiri in a United Nations committee meeting. Its stance against Israel’s existence can be traced further back, to the 1928 emergence of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the mother organization of Hamas. It was the Brotherhood that first published an Arabic translation of the classic Russian-authored anti-Semitic hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and distributed it widely to the Arab and Muslim world.

In the 1930s, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the first Palestinian Arab leader, agitated Muslims to attack Jews using anti-Jewish tropes and conspiracy theories in his sermons. In the 1940s he encouraged the Nazis to bomb Tel Aviv, and impose the “Final Solution” on the Jews of Palestine.

Is this the “free Palestine” that the Crimson editorial board advocates?

Regrettably, the Crimson‘s endorsement illustrates the effectiveness of decades of Palestinian political warfare, employing tactics learned from the PLO’s Soviet and Chinese sponsors, and other Marxist Leninist movements of the 1960s and 1970s, to undermine Jewish indigeneity and sovereignty. It was General Võ Nguyên Giáp of the Viet Cong that advised Yasser Arafat to market his cause as one of “human rights”—advice Arafat took in his infamous 1974 U.N. “Israel apartheid speech.” That speech led to the approval of the U.N.’s 1975 “Zionism is Racism” resolution, which in turn anchors the PSC and the BDS movement today.

In 2019, the German Bundestag unanimously condemned the BDS movement as anti-Semitic, resolving that a boycott of the Jewish state is reminiscent of Nazi propaganda and the Juden boykott of the 1930s that led to the massacre of six million Jewish children, their parents, relatives and neighbors.

The Harvard Crimson editorial board owes the Harvard community and its alumni a clarification of its “proud” support for the Palestine Solidarity Committee.

Dan Diker is director of the Political Warfare Project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. A former secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, he is also a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism at IDC, Herzliya.

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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