Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee


Progressive Jewish Alliance: Criticism of Israel is Not Anti-Semitic

Statement (dated March 22, 2013) by the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance on the PSC's activism at Harvard:

"Over the past week, a dangerous rumor has circulated accusing the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) of targeting Jewish students in its campaign to raise awareness about the demolition of Palestinian homes. We, the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance, strongly refute these lies and affirm that Jewish students were not targeted. While we do not endorse PSC’s campaign, we support their right to draw attention to problematic Israeli policies and believe that flyering is a legitimate and reasonable way to do so.

As part of Harvard Israeli Apartheid Week, PSC flyered student dorms with mock eviction notices in order to raise awareness about the demolition of Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories. Such flyering is a common means of advertising and campaigning utilized by a wide variety of student organizations. PSC placed these notices on all suite doors in any given dormitory. However, in response to these flyers, several publications began circulating the falsehood that PSC specifically targeted Jewish students in its campaign. This claim is completely wrong, and it is clear to students who live in the dorms that Jewish students were not targeted.

Moreover, several publications have accused PSC of employing anti-Semitic rhetoric in its campaign. These claims are baseless; as PSC affirms in a public statement on its website, these accusations “conflate [PSC’s] criticism of Israeli human rights violations with hatred of the Jewish people.” Indeed, in its mission, PSC “condemn[s] any hatred or discrimination against any racial, ethnic, or religious group." Anti-Semitism is a serious problem, and these claims minimize the seriousness of real anti-Semitism as well slander and harm the falsely accused.

We condemn all organizations and publications both within and outside Harvard that continue to spread lies about PSC, and we ask them to immediately publish corrections stating that PSC did not target Jewish students or engage in other anti-Semitic behavior. In light of the anti-Semitic and racist incidents at Oberlin College over the past month, we hope that individuals and organizations devoted to fighting anti-Semitism will not diminish the significance of true anti-Semitism by branding criticism of Israeli policies as anti-Semitic."


The PSC would like to thank the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance for this important statement and for their continuous work for human rights and peace in Israel-Palestine.


Link to the statement on the PJA Website

Link to the PJA Website

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Engaging on substance

On-campus debate and activism around the subject of Israel-Palestine is bound to be contentious and inflame spirits. However, responses which avoid substantive issues and devolve into defamatory allegations cross a line. In the past two weeks, the Harvard Crimson published two op-eds that obliquely accuse the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) and its members of anti-Semitism. These accusations are patently false; they are made without presenting any actual evidence of anti-Semitism and instead conflate our criticism of Israeli human rights violations with hatred of the Jewish people. These attacks on our organization and the many dedicated people committed to the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and equality should not be coming out the mouths of students who purport to be interested in an open and fair discussion and who have any measure of respect for their peers.

The most recent op-ed presented a false analogy between the mock eviction notices used by the PSC to inform Harvard students about the Israeli government’s illegal practice of home demolitions and a hypothetical notice posted on the doors of Harvard students with blatantly anti-Semitic statements made by Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi in 2010. First of all, whereas the PSC’s notices are based on facts and documented Israeli policies—something which no one has tried to contest so far—and make no reference to any religious or ethnic groups, the false equivalence relies on statements by an individual who has no relationship to Palestine solidarity activists, least of all here at Harvard. The authors of this latest op-ed, while seeking “open, intellectual discourse” thus repeatedly construct an analogy between criticism of Israeli policy and anti-Semitism and in the process silence our ability to dissent politically without being accused of racial hatred. The desired and predictable result is that many Harvard students are now afraid to speak their mind on the subject of Israel-Palestine for fear of being attacked with this label.

The authors of the op-ed also accuse the PSC of “project[ing] a dishonest voice that distorts the reality of the conflict.” The PSC does not project one voice. The PSC seeks to offer a forum for many diverse individuals to discuss the question of Israel-Palestine at Harvard and in the Cambridge community. As such, in the past four years, we believe it would be accurate to say that the PSC has brought more Israeli and Jewish speakers to campus than any of our organization’s critics. These have included former Israeli soldiers, Israeli professors, and Israeli students and peace and human rights activists. These speakers presented their views and experiences both in conferences where they participated alongside Palestinian and American speakers and in events where they participated as the main guests. In our discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, furthermore, we have also included numerous American and European voices, providing a truly varied body of information available to all those interested in it.

The PSC, together with the Palestine solidarity movement, also accept numerous dissenting voices in their midst. This is evident in the closing event of Israeli Apartheid Week 2013 at Harvard, which featured Professor Noam Chomsky. Professor Chomsky disagrees with using the term “apartheid” to describe Israel—he says policies inside Israel proper are discriminatory but not apartheid, while he says Israeli policies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are worse than apartheid. Professor Chomsky disagrees with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and with the one-state solution. If our organization really sought to close down discussion on these issues, the diversity of opinion we bring to campus and the debate we try to promote among members of the Harvard and Cambridge communities would be vastly inferior to what they have been in the past years.

The authors of the op-eds might have noticed this if they had ever bothered attending one of our events, which are widely and openly publicized through our Web site, Facebook page, and plain old flyering, postering, and word of mouth. The question-and-answer and discussion sessions are open to everyone. We bar no one from attending the events we host. Anyone can subscribe to our mailing list. In fact, we do not think that there is a single Harvard student who can legitimately say that our organization has prevented him or her from voicing his or her opinion on Israel-Palestine in a function organized by the PSC. We have had debates in lecture halls, in dining halls, and on online forums. However, if supporters of Israel’s illegal policies think that they have not been given a legitimate voice in these debates, it is simply because they have never deigned to attend our events and now feign exclusion from behind their keyboards.

In reality, the PSC seeks to inform students with facts which present the realities on the ground. We discuss the policies of a state which has been oppressing Palestinians for sixty-five years now and then invite interested people to form their own opinions about this. The PSC’s mission is for equal rights, peace, and justice, something that would be evident if the authors of the most recent op-ed did not cherry-pick just a fragment of our mission from the PSC website. In fact, we actually argue for equality and base our mission on this principle: “The PSC is non-sectarian and believes that true peace will be reached only when self-determination and equality are guaranteed to Palestinians.” On the other hand, some Harvard students seem content with the discriminatory, illegal status quo present in Israel-Palestine.

The Palestine Solidarity Committee has a strong legacy of intellectual engagement, openness, inclusiveness, and activism. Our group consists of very diverse individuals who often differ in their personal views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, as a group, we are committed to peace and justice in Israel-Palestine. The red herring of anti-Semitism is a tactic used to silence us and make us out to be extremists. It is both unfair as well as entirely offensive, a blatant misappropriation of a form of racial hatred in order to prevent us from making legitimate political critique. Any fair evaluation of our actions, our statements, and our events presents us a group committed to freedom and equality in the Holy Land. Armchair critics should choose either to actually get substantively involved in this discussion, attend our events, and hear and address the varied perspectives we present—without necessarily having to agree with them—or to cease making fictitious charges against our organization, our movement, and our mission.

The Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee

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PSC member on mock eviction notices

Watch the video of a PSC member commenting on the strategy of mock eviction notices:

Read the Al Jazeera Stream piece for the full details!

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Wrapping up IAW 2013

The PSC would like to thank all of the students, faculty and community members who participated in Israel Apartheid Week this year. We are very pleased with the discussion it generated and proud of the turnout at our two events. We are grateful to Professor Chomsky for joining us, despite the snow. We hope that the screening of Oscar-nominated “Five Broken Cameras” have students a glimpse into the reality of life in Palestine.

We are aware that fake eviction notices (read the facts) that we used to advertise Israel Apartheid Week, distributed to a large proportion of the campus, generated a heated controversy among a small group of students, a controversy fueled by outside special interest groups. It was clear to us ahead of time that the small number of students with a strong allegiance to Israel would not take well to this criticism. The PSC, however, focuses its educational efforts on the vast majority of the student body that is willing to engage in real conversations on the Palestinian struggle for equality. We know first-hand that the unique tactic of using harmless eviction notices encouraged many students to ask important questions about the situation in Israel-Palestine. We encourage student groups across the country to continue using this approach both as an educational and advertising tool.

The PSC welcomes anyone who would like to join our efforts to amplify Palestinian voices and fight the good fight for equal rights. Please email harvardpsc@gmail.com to learn how you can get involved in the PSC.

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Israeli Apartheid Week 2013: Mock Apartheid Wall

On Monday, PSC members erected a mock Apartheid Wall in the Science Center Plaza. Although this was made difficult by strong wind, this representation of one of Israel's tools of enforcing apartheid stood for a day to remind the many people who pass through this area of the important issue of the Separation Wall and broader Israeli policies.

In the meantime, PSC members passed out fliers detailing how Israel, through the construction of the Wall beyond the 1967 Green Line, takes possession of Palestinian land to construct settlements and create a discriminatory and illegal system of segregation and occupation in Palestine.

This event too place Monday March 4 and was part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2013 at Harvard University.

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Israeli Apartheid Week 2013: Eviction notice!

(Click on the image to enlarge)

The eviction notice that sparked debate across campus and in a variety of international news sources, pictured here in full.

Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee members posted hundreds of such eviction notices on doors of freshman (Harvard Yard) dormitories, as well as in Adams, Quincy, Lowell, Kirkland, Winthrop, and Eliot upperclassman houses.

Although a number of eviction notices were then removed, ripped, and left on the entryway floors by unknown vandals, the message reached a large audience at Harvard and raising debate and discussions over numerous email lists.

This campaign began Israeli Apartheid Week 2013 at Harvard, which also included a mock Apartheid Wall being erected in the Science Center Plaza on Monday, the screening of Oscar-nominated documentary "5 Broken Cameras" on Thursday, and which will culminate today (Friday) with a talk by Prof. Noam Chomsky on the subject of the future of the pro-Palestinian movement in relation to the Israel-South Africa analogy.

We hope this brief glimpse of the reality in Palestine will lead many Harvard students to question current U.S. support for the Israeli government and regime of occupation of the Palestinian territories, as well as to become more active and involved in seeking a peaceful and just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

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Harvard Israeli Apartheid Week 2013

The Harvard Israeli Apartheid Week is a series of events held to raise awareness of Israel as an apartheid state. The Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee will be holding IAW from March 4th to March 8th. All events are open to everyone.

Harvard Israeli Apartheid Week 2013 Schedule


Thursday, March 7, 2013

A screening the Oscar nominated must-see documentary "Five Broken Cameras". Documentary summary below:

When his fourth son, Gibreel, is born, Emad, a Palestinian villager, gets his first camera. In his village, Bil'in, a separation barrier is being built and the villagers start to resist this decision. For more than five years, Emad films the struggle, which is lead by two of his best friends, alongside filming how Gibreel grows. Very soon it affects his family and his own life. Daily arrests and night raids scare his family; his friends, brothers and him as well are either shot or arrested. One Camera after another is shot at or smashed, each camera tells a part of his story. Written by Guy Davidi on IMDb.

Refreshments will be provided.

Details can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/b5df5bv


Friday March 8
Science Center D
7-9 p.m.

"What Lies ahead for the Palestinians: Lessons from Apartheid South Africa." IAW ends with a talk given by Noam Chomsky, a prominent author, linguist and political activist. Dr. Chomsky will speak on the road ahead for Palestinians and a few possible options the Palestinians have in the face of apartheid, and the lessons we can learn from South Africa's struggle and liberation from apartheid.

Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, historian, political critic, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. In addition to his work in linguistics, he has written on war, politics, and mass media, and is the author of over 100 books. According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar from 1980 to 1992, and was the eighth most cited source overall. He has been described as a prominent cultural figure, and he was voted the "world's top public intellectual" in a 2005 poll.

The talk will be moderated by Dr. Heike Schotten, an associate professor of political science at University of Massachusetts

Refreshments will be provided.

Details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/127289427451273/?context=create

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