At least 100 Harvard University faculty members signed on to a letter defending the pro-Palestinian slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — despite the fact that it is widely recognized as promoting the destruction of the state of Israel and the genocide of the Jewish people living there.
The letter, published via Medium.com, was written as a response to Harvard University President Claudine Gay’s November 9 memo titled “Combating Anti-Semitism” and suggested that the school was siding with Israel out of fear that they might lose donors.
The letter also calls for Harvard to create “an advisory group on Islamaophoboa and anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism”
The letter is a response to Harvard President Gay’s letter “Combatting Antisemitism” pic.twitter.com/cBp1euEDPn
— John Hasson (@SonofHas) November 14, 2023
“As Harvard faculty, we have been astonished by the pressure from donors, alumni, and even some on this campus to silence faculty, students, and staff critical of the actions of the State of Israel,” the letter began. “It is important to acknowledge the patronizing tone and format of much of the criticism you have received as well as the outright racism contained in some of it.”
“We were nevertheless profoundly dismayed by your November 9 message entitled ‘Combating Antisemitism.’ The University’s commitment to intellectual freedom and open dialogue seems to be giving way to something else entirely: a model of education in which the meaning of terms once eligible for interpretation is prescribed from above by a committee whose work was, on Tuesday, described to the faculty as only beginning,” the letter continued.
They then went on to defend the use of the oft-repeated slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Instead of recognizing its roots in calls to replace the state of Israel with a “free Palestine” that stretched from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, they simply wrote the slogan off as “complicated” — and used the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry-approved casualty numbers to suggest that Israel was guilty of genocide.
“Similarly, the phrase ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine must be free’ has a long and complicated history. Its interpretation deserves, and is receiving, sustained and ongoing inquiry and debate. Singling it out as necessarily implying removalism or even eliminationism – when over a million Palestinians have been forced from their homes and over ten thousand civilians, including four thousand children, have been slain in Gaza, actions which the Holocaust historian Omer Bartov suggests in The New York Times may amount to a ‘crime against humanity’ being executed with ‘genocidal intent’ – is imprudent as a matter of university policy and badly misjudged as an act of moral leadership.”
At the time of publication, 102 members of Harvard’s faculty had signed off on the letter.