More than 1,000 Israeli university students, writing on behalf of the “Students for Justice in America” (SJA) organization, have petitioned Jasper Goodman, Managing Editor of the Harvard Crimson, with a demand that the Crimson immediately evacuates its offices from “illegally occupied” Massachusetts Indian lands.
The students allege that the Crimson‘s offices are located on territory which belonged to the Massachusetts Indian tribes. They call on the editorial board to uphold the very own ethical values they have preached to Israelis about on their editorial pages.
In April this past year, the Harvard Crimson published an editorial titled “In Support of Boycott, Divest, Sanctions and a Free Palestine“, condemning alleged Israeli “property and land confiscations, citizenship denials, movement restrictions, and unlawful killings that victimize Palestinians day in and day out” and calling to “free Palestine.” The editorial board said it was forced to support the extremist boycott movement as a result of Israel’s theft of Palestinian territory.
According to SJA, the Harvard Crimson’s own offices are situated on lands forcefully taken from the Massachusetts people, which is the indigenous nation of these territories. The Massachusetts people had lived on these lands continuously for thousands of years before it was taken through warfare and the deliberate spreading of diseases such as smallpox, typhus and influenza by European settlers and later by Americans. Forced land sales were imposed on the native population and indigenous horticulture and livestock was completely decimated as the resisting survivors of this genocidal violence were frequently executed or sold into slavery.
Accordingly, the SJA’s letter challenges the Harvard Crimson’s hypocrisy and double standards: while trespassing themselves on property forcefully taken from others, the Crimson supports “justice” on the other side of the globe. Furthermore, SJA are arguing that the Crimson itself is infected with racism when it comes to the representation of Native American students on its staff, as only 0.5% of its stuff consists of Native American students – almost a sixth of their numbers in the American population, arguing “It’s ironic to have the Crimson call out Israel on discriminatory policies when you yourself perpetuate such discriminatory conduct”
The letter states that “Justice, morality and boycotts are not just slogans and antisemitic weapons for the Crimson editorial board to point at the Jewish community in Israel. Justice and morality must begin at home.”
The current SJA’s initiative continues the newly established students’ organization mission to safeguard human rights and fight against the oppression of indigenous peoples in North America, by exposing hypocrisy and double standards in academic institutions organizations, businesses, elected officials and individuals in the United States which support BDS initiatives while continuing to oppress Native Americans themselves. A similar action has been brought by SJA against Ben & Jerry’s occupation of the Abenaki Indians lands in their Vermont headquarters.
The student initiative and letter are supported by Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, a Tel-Aviv based human rights organization, dedicated to safeguarding the lives of the Jewish community, seeking justice for the victims of terrorism worldwide and combating BDS initiatives. “The grim reality is that academic institutions in the US are no longer safe for Jews” said Nitsana Darshan Leitner, founder and president of Shurat HaDin, “They have become a haven for antisemites and a focal point for the spread of lies against the state of Israel, which is constantly delegitimized by antisemites disguised as human right activists. For them, human rights matter only as long as they are allowed to continue to violate them themselves. The new trend on campuses is to hypocritically accuse the Jewish State of the very crimes their own institutions are committing.”