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Holding Harvard's Crimson Accountable

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 18 March 2013


Holding Harvard's Crimson Accountable


by Stephen Lendman


Harvard's motto is "VERITAS." It's shield and class rings display it. At issue is anti-Palestinian bias. 


Harvard Political Review (HPR) explained. It's separate from Harvard's Crimson. HC's the nation's oldest continuously published college newspaper. It began as a fortnightly. For decades it's been a daily.


It was founded in 1873. Past editors included Franklin Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy. Undergraduates staff it. Some pursue journalism careers.


HPR calls itself "America's preeminent undergraduate journal of politics and public policy." It's "nonpartisan." It's "written and published entirely by Harvard undergraduates." Harvard's Institute of Politics provides help.


On March 10, HPR published a Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) letter. More on that below.


PSC supports Palestine's liberating struggle. It's non-sectarian. It believes peace depends on guaranteed Palestinian self-determination and equality. 


Its mission statement says they're only possible if Israel's occupation ends, its Separation Wall is dismantled, Israeli Arabs have equal rights as Jews, and Palestinian refugees are assured their legal right of return.


PSC "encourage(s) people of all backgrounds to join the Palestinian struggle and show their solidarity with the Palestinian people."


It headlined "The Crimson's Anti-Palestinian Bias." Four Harvard students contributed: Lena Awwad, Giacomo Bagarella, Asmaa Rimawi and Hannah Schafer.


Shafer's a rabbi's daughter. She's "deeply offended that the Crimson keeps publishing pieces that label our PSC activism on campus as anti-Semitic."


She calls doing so "defamatory." Crimson editors "should be ashamed of themselves," she says.


PCS challenges Crimson editorial policy. It silences Palestinian voices. Palestinian students and supporters "feel alienated."


Examples below highlight the issue.


In March 2012, PSC organized a Harvard Kennedy School One State Conference. Harvard's Office of the Provost, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and Carr Center for Human Rights co-sponsored it.


Half the conference's organizers and speakers were Jewish. Crimson editors called its agenda "deeply wrong." They pre-judged it. They did so before the conference began.


Views expressed were wrongheaded. Claiming speakers ignored Jewish self-determination was absurd on its face. Many addressed it comprehensively. Some proposed a one-state solution. They urged equal rights for all Israeli citizens. One-fifth are Palestinians.


Crimson editors claimed "only the two state solution protects and respects the national aspirations of both Jews and Palestinians."


Saying so turns truth on its head. Years ago two states were possible. No longer. Israel controls over half the West Bank and much of East Jerusalem. More land is stolen daily.


Had Crimson editors attended the conference, they'd have heard cogent opinions on both sides. They'd have known what went on. Their commentary could have reported it accurately.


In October 2012, they "put Palestinian students through a nightmar(ish)" week. A PSC commentary followed. Complying with Crimson editing requirements was "shocking." Statements of fact were challenged.


At issue was attempted censorship. Imposing it was unconscionable. At PSC's insistence, its op-ed was posted online.


Crimson editors removed it. They did again after it was reposted. They shamed themselves in the process. They violated journalistic ethics. They have no right being editors.


They finally published it for circulation. It wasn't easy getting them to do so. It was shocking to have to try.


In February 2013, they targeted PSC again. They did so unjustly. They called it anti-Semitic for supporting the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. It seeks vitally important change. 


This writer's a proud cultural member. People of conscience everywhere should join. They should lend support. They should do it because it matters.


Crimson editors feel otherwise. Zionists want Israeli criticism quashed. They go all-out to do it. They employ no-holds-barred tactics.


PSC deplores racism. It does so in all forms. Anti-Semitism has no place in civilized societies. It's intolerable everywhere.


BDS targets Israel economically and politically. It challenges  organizations and businesses complicit with occupation harshness. 


It's inspired by South Africa's anti-apartheid boycott. It worked because it had teeth. BDS effectiveness against Israel increases. 


It's vital. It needs widespread support. Many Jews agree. It has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Saying so is morally reprehensible and false.


Harvard's Progressive Jewish Alliance launched an Open Hillel campaign. It targeted the Harvard chapter's ban on BDS discussions.


PCS is involved in Israeli Apartheid week activities. They're ongoing now. Lectures are presented. Films are shown. Apartheid crimes are explained.


On March 5, Crimson editors considered another anti-PSC commentary. At issue is comparing Israel to South Africa. Honest observers know it's worse. They say so openly and forthrightly.


Crimson editors objected. PSC members urged they reconsider. They refused. They prohibited dissenting opinions. 


PSC submitted an op-ed anyway. It included challenging views. They were presented responsibly. They were grounded in international law. Crimson editors wouldn't print it.


On March 9, they published their own commentary. They attacked PSC. They denied the right to respond. Harvard marginalizes Israeli criticism. Doing so is longstanding.


Palestinians and supporters have a right to be heard. Silencing them is unconscionable. Doing so violates Harvard's core motto. "VERITAS" must be more than just words.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 


His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."


Visit his blog site at 


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