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March 20, 2014 7:21 pm

Hillel: Harvard Students’ Visit to Arafat’s Grave ‘Causing Understandable Concern’

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Israel Trek trip participants from Harvard University visit Yasser Arafat's grave. The trip is sponsored by Harvard and Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. Photo: Twitter.

JNS.orgHillel International responded to growing criticism over a visit by Harvard University students on a Hillel-sponsored tour of Israel to former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s grave near Ramallah.

Blogger Daniel Mael first revealed the visit to Arafat’s grave by the Harvard students as part of the “Harvard College Israel Trek 2014“ on According to the trip’s website, the program “aims to engage a diverse cohort of undergraduate student leaders of all faiths and backgrounds with Israeli history, culture, and politics.” Israel Trek is sponsored by Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) and Harvard Hillel.

In a statement, David Eden, chief administration officer at Hillel International, admitted that the visit to Arafat’s grave is “causing understandable concern,” adding that the image conveyed by that visit is “not what this trip is about.”

“Given our digital online world, the participants may have given insufficient thought to the way in which this particular photograph would be seen and received back home, where the image is being captioned and written about in a very disturbing manner, including sensationalistic interpretations, by people unfamiliar with the Trek’s full program and mission,” Eden stated.

Six Israel Trek trip organizers, in a blog post for the Times of Israel headlined “Yes, we visited Arafat’s grave,” wrote that they “stand firm behind our decision to visit Ramallah.”

“Whether we like or not, Yasser Arafat is important to the Palestinian narrative, and as educators committed to an honest exploration of these issues we could not afford to deviate from Trek policy that encouraged students to document and share their experiences with their respective communities,” they wrote. “We are saddened and sorry that a photo was taken out of context, causing pain to people who we love and respect.”

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  • BigTotti

    Just relax. Nobody that’s really Jewishly engaged thinks of them as Jews.

    Eventually they will just assimilate, disappear, and be of no further consequence.

    Sad, but inevitable.

  • zen

    Makes me sick Jewish youth smiling at the grave of Arafat instead of urinating on it.What did they do next have a keg party at Treblinka

  • Reuven

    They’ve committed a great sin against the Jewish People, and for that matter, all decent people. They honored a loathsome mass murderer! If they were alive during the Shoah, these kapos would have shoved their Jewish brothers and sisters into ovens.

  • Eli

    Harvard has always been on the left-liberal spectrum, but Jewish students had self-respect, something I can confirm as a Harvard grad. Visiting the grave of a mass-murderer of Jews, including Jewish Americans is sickening beyond belief.

  • I would like to know if they visited the burial places of Menachem Begin,Golda Meir and Yosef Trumbeldor. How about Rabbi Meir Kahane.These questions need answers

  • Mike

    Harvard ain’t what it used to be.

  • Andrew

    Just because they go to Havard, does not mean they are bright.

  • Bill Stein

    Maybe next time these students will visit hitlers grave and get the Nazi narrative. Time for Hillel to stop funding these organizations and chapters that do this. If not face a major backlash from the Jewish community.

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    Why stop there? Why not go to Hitler’s birthplace?

  • coreynewyork

    Insufficient thought? They go to Harvard.
    Don’t give me that insufficient thought b.s.