Harvard Law Students Amend Bylaws To Enact Secret Ballot Ahead Of Vote To Boycott Israel

A pro-Israel student group slammed their representatives for rushing a meeting without giving them notice to speak out
Boston, MA – October 18: A pro-Palestinian protest of Harvard students and their supporters, ends on the lawn behind Klarman Hall, at Harvard Business School, after starting in the Old Yard by Massachusetts Hall. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Harvard Law School’s student government is actively voting on a resolution to boycott Israel through a secretive online ballot, a departure from bylaws that required an in-person recorded vote. 

The resolution, which can only be voted on through an anonymous Google survey by members by Friday at 8:00 a.m., calls on all Harvard institutions to divest from entities that have a hand in the “occupation of Palestine,” without defining if “Palestine” includes only the West Bank and Gaza or Israel proper as well. 

“Harvard Law School Government calls upon all institutions and organizations within the Harvard community to divest from institutions, weapons manufacturers, firms, academic programs, corporations, and all other institutions that aid the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine and the genocide of Palestinians,” the resolution states.

In an emergency meeting, the bylaws for the student government were amended earlier this week to permit the secretive vote rather than complying with the usual requirement of voting by roll call or acclamation. 

“Our body decided to proceed via voting by Google form to address concerns regarding doxxing and harassment,” the student government’s co-president Swap Agrawal wrote in an email to the assistant dean of students obtained by The Daily Wire. “The Student Council voted at the outset of Tuesday’s meeting to amend the bylaws to allow the Student Council to consider and vote on this resolution via a closed and anonymous Google form rather than a public list and in-person roll call.”

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The amendment met the two-thirds threshold for approval by a 12 out of 14 vote. 

The Executive Board of Harvard Law School’s Alliance for Israel (AFI) slammed the student government for holding the unannounced emergency meeting, and failing to give them notice so they could voice opposition.

“We are deeply disappointed that Alliance for Israel, as an important stakeholder in the community, was not informed about this meeting, nor invited to speak,” the group wrote in a letter, adding that the student government failed to pass any resolution condemning antisemitic attacks on campus or Hamas’s October 7 massacre and rape of Israeli civilians.

“Even if the student government had done all of these things, this resolution would still be wildly inappropriate,” the letter added. “The fact that it has done none of these things makes matters all the worse.”

Shabbos Kestenbaum, a Harvard Divinity School student who is suing Harvard over claims of enabling anti-Semitism, took issue with the representatives seeing anonymity to avoid accountability.

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“It is simply unacceptable to be an elected student representative on a hotly contentious issue whilst expecting zero accountability for how you vote,” he told The Daily Wire. “If these students, who believe that Israel is an apartheid regime conducting ethnic cleansing, are our future policymakers, Supreme Court justices, and lawyers, then our country is in serious danger.”

The resolution accuses Israel of conducting a “genocidal campaign in Gaza,” ethnically cleansing Palestinians, and occupying “Palestine.”

“Furthermore, claims of an ‘ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine’ implies Israel has no right to exist and threatens its legitimacy,” the AFI letter states. “This resolution, compounded by the student government’s failure to address antisemitism on campus and the violence and suffering Hamas caused Israelis, sends a message to Jews and Israelis that they are not welcome at HLS.”

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The resolution relies upon reporting from the student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, which found that Harvard invested $200 million in companies tied to the Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria. 

To build its case, the resolution cites Harvard’s history of divesting in other situations including from some South African companies and tobacco stocks.

Harvard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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