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Harvard University is currently facing significant criticism in the United States as some of its students are squarely attributing the violence in the region to Israel following the recent Hamas attack.
The letter, which emerged in the aftermath of Hamas’s assault on Israeli cities and the resulting loss of civilian lives, has generated widespread outrage, particularly due to Harvard’s perceived lack of response to the controversy.
The Anti-Israel Letter
A public statement authored by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups asserted full blame on the Israeli government for the ongoing violence.
This letter garnered support from over 30 student organizations at Harvard in the wake of widespread images depicting a large-scale attack by Hamas. These groups often collaborated in an informal network of mutual support. When one group championed a cause, others would join in as a display of collegiality.
The students emphasized that the recent events did not occur in isolation and placed exclusive responsibility for the violence in Israel. It’s worth noting that the letter, which was shared on social media before the full extent of the casualties was known, did not list the names of individual students.
The opening statement of the letter unequivocally stated: “We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”
Harvard Students Doxxed
After the letter gained widespread attention and sparked anger, some of the Harvard Student groups distanced themselves from its message.
The letter’s circulation triggered a strong reaction from fellow students, gained attention in alumni networks, took over the Harvard Crimson’s front page, and fueled a dispute that has involved prominent figures like investor Bill Ackman and former university President Larry Summers. This also included the personal information of the individuals who signed the letter and their family members being made public in a humiliating way
One of the women learned about a billboard truck from a friend. It was stationed just outside the university gates, displaying a large image of her smiling face. Customers in a pastry shop, students in dormitory windows, and commuters near the train station could all see her, along with a rotating display of other students, being labeled as antisemitic.
“I felt so sick in Harvard Yard,” she recounted.
Operated by Accuracy in Media, a conservative group that has deployed similar trucks at other campuses like Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, the truck’s presence raised eyebrows.
“It’s ironic that students on the campus where Facebook was invented are shocked that their names are publicly available,” remarked Adam Guillette, president of Accuracy in Media. “We’re simply amplifying their message.”
The group’s efforts are ongoing. They’ve secured domain names for Harvard students associated with the letter and are creating individual websites for them. Each site will call on the university to take action against these students.
Last week, students’ names were also made public through a website featuring a “College Terror List, a Helpful Guide for Employers,” compiled by Maxwell Meyer, a 2022 Stanford graduate. In an interview, Mr. Meyer, 23, stated that his information was sourced from publicly available data and tips sent to an email address.
He clarified that he had no affiliation with Accuracy in Media. Although Google and Notion, the note-taking app where the website was hosted, removed his site (with assistance from alumni, as claimed by the students), other sites have since picked up and circulated the list.
Bill Ackman, the hedge fund billionaire and Harvard alum, expressed on social media that students’ names should be circulated to prevent “inadvertently” hiring them. His over 800,000 followers boosted Mr. Meyer’s website, prompting numerous chief executives to request the list, according to Mr. Meyer.
In a separate social media post, Mr. Ackman stated that he was “100% in support of free speech.” However, he added, “one should be prepared to stand up and be personally accountable for his or her views.”
Regrettably, the doxxing has not spared family members.
“Every single member of my family has been contacted, including my younger siblings,” said the student whose smiling face was featured on the truck.
Israel-Palestine Debate Across US Campuses
As reported by The New York Times, the dispute regarding Israel and the plight of Palestinians has become one of the most divisive issues on campus in decades. This has put Harvard university officials in a difficult position as they try to mediate between different groups.
While Harvard received substantial criticism from politicians, academics, and Jewish organizations, other universities prepared for potential protests. Tensions surrounding Israel and Palestine have been escalating on campuses throughout the US, including at Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California, Berkeley.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, a vocal segment of student groups and faculty in the US with anti-Israel and anti-Zionist perspectives have gained prominence. Meanwhile, the institutions are wrestling with the challenge of upholding the principles of free expression and academic freedom while addressing calls for increased oversight of the language and actions of students, faculty, and administrators.