Radical Harvard Students Set To Skirt Bylaws To Hold Anti-Israel Referendum Vote
Supporters of Palestine gather at Harvard University to show their support for Palestinians in Gaza at a rally in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on October 14, 2023. Thousands of Palestinians sought refuge on October 14 after Israel warned them to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip before an expected ground offensive against Hamas, one week on from the deadliest attack in Israeli history. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Anti-Israel student activists at Harvard University are pushing forward with a referendum on whether the school should divest from Israel, a move that may violate rules barring the undergraduate student government from taking positions on global issues.

A petition launched on Tuesday gathered the 195 signatures needed to trigger a college-wide referendum in just three hours, according to the Harvard Crimson. The undergraduate push follows Harvard Law School and Harvard Divinity School’s student governments voting to divest from the Jewish State in recent weeks.

If referendum bylaws are followed and signatures are verified, the vote will be held within three weeks and include the proposed question: “Should Harvard divest from institutions that profit from and/or aid Israel’s war on Gaza and the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine?”

Two Harvard students told The Daily Wire that the petition is a violation of the student government bylaws, which state the Harvard Undergraduate Association can “not publish statements on world or campus issues/events.”

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“The HUA’s bylaws, written after the previous student government body was dissolved, in part because of their willingness to issue political statements, prohibits statements on campus or world events,” a Harvard undergraduate told The Daily Wire. “Additionally, HUA resolutions can only be used ‘to set HUA policy,’ and the HUA has no policy regarding Israel or Harvard’s investment.”

The student, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from peers, added that it’s a violation of bylaws to join “political movements” and to use “leading questions.”

“Harvard leadership has made clear that it opposes calls for a policy of boycotting Israel and its academic institutions,” a Harvard spokesman said in a statement. “In the words of former President Bacow, responding to a 2022 editorial in The Harvard Crimson that had endorsed the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement, ‘targeting or boycotting a particular group because of disagreements over the policies pursued by their governments is antithetical to what we stand for as a University,’ and ‘academic boycotts have absolutely no place at Harvard, regardless of who they target.'”

The 195 signature threshold is determined by taking 10 percent of the total number of students that voted in the 2023 Harvard Undergraduate’s Association (HUA) elections, per the bylaws.

“As the university discusses institutional neutrality during a time of genocide, sign NOW to tell Harvard to divest from Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians,” the anti-Israel student group Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee wrote in an Instagram post with the petition link.

The post cites reporting from 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. 

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In a now-deleted post, the group expressed that all signatures will be kept secret and only known to the election commission chair Behruz Mahmadov, two administrators, and the petitioners Shraddha Joshi and Asmer Asrar Safi.

Just four days after Hamas’s deadly attack on Israeli civilians, Safi, a Rhodes Scholar, shared a photo of a former leader of the U.S.-designated terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ghassan Kanafani.

Asmer Asrar Safi student posts picture of Ghassan Kanafani

Harvard student and Rhodes Scholar Asmer Asrar Safi posted an image of Ghassan Kanafani, a former leader of the U.S.-designated terrorist group PFLP just days after Hamas’s massacre of civilians in Israel.

“Thinking about the words of Ghassan Kanafani as Harvard faces one of its most intense onslaughts of doxxing, intimidation and harassment,” he tweeted. “Here’s to rejecting occupation and apartheid in the face of everything today.”

A quote from Kanafani was removed from Harvard’s anti-Israel “apartheid wall” last week after media attention that the students platformed a man who was linked to the massacre of 26 people—including American tourists—at Ben Gurion airport in 1972, according to the Mossad.

Joshi has a long history of anti-Israel activism and was a member of one of the student groups that co-organized a statement blaming Israel for Hamas’ attack just a day after it happened, according to Canary Mission.

“There should be no surprise in this effort coming as it does from a group that is no longer antisemitic in effect, but antisemitic in their intent, words, and actions,” Harvard Chabad Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi told The Daily Wire. “What remains to be seen is to what degree faculty will continue to remain silent in the face of the rising Jew-hate that is defiantly being promulgated on campus.”

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Another Harvard student said the referendum can intensify “the alienation that Jewish students, particularly those from Israel, have felt since October by signaling to them that they do not have a place in the student body.”

“What is important to note is that on campus the divestment campaign has been framed as one against genocide,” the student added. “The referendum seeks divestment from any organization linked to Israel. There is a prevailing belief, as the petition shows, that even remote support for the Jewish state means support for genocide.”

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The student also asked to remain anonymous because of the belief system that fuels the petition, and because the student fears peers “will use the illusion of the moral high ground to ostracize their classmates in both social and academic circles.”

A University statement released last week said, “Harvard leadership has made clear that it opposes calls for a policy of boycotting Israel and its academic institutions.”

Harvard’s interim president Alan Garber launched working groups last week to explore if and how the university should make statements on political issues. 

“In recent months and years, we have heard clearly that many in our community feel constrained in their ability to express their views on critically important questions,” Garber and Interim Harvard Provost John Manning wrote in an email. “More and more members of our community have also asked whether and when the University should use its official voice to address matters of social and political significance.”

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include a statement from Harvard.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Radical Harvard Students Set To Skirt Bylaws To Hold Anti-Israel Referendum Vote