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February 19, 2016 6:00 am

Harvard Law School Disputes ‘Justice for Palestine’ Account of Controversy Over Donor Funding

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Harvard University. Photo: Kazuaki Hiraga.

Harvard University. Photo: Kazuaki Hiraga.

A Harvard Law School Dean yesterday denied an anti-Israel student group’s account of a recent funding controversy at the school, The Algemeiner has learned.

Justice For Palestine (JFP) claimed in a letter published Tuesday that a major donor’s recent decision to repurpose previously pledged funds was due to an explicitly stated desire that the funds not be used to back JFP activities. Not so, Assistant Dean Robb London told The Algemeiner on Thursday, directly rejecting this and other of the group’s claims.

The controversy began last Oct. 20, when JFP sponsored a program called “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack.” To provide refreshments for the attendees, the group drew on funds donated by international corporate law firm Milbank, earmarked to support student activities at Harvard Law School. Per Milbank’s conditions, JFP acknowledged the firm’s support in promotional material for the event.

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The day after the event, according to Tuesday’s letter in the Harvard Law Record, “The Dean of Students office — citing a flood of angry phone calls and emails received from Milbank executives and other off-campus parties over the previous 24 hours — asked an organizer of the event to disassociate from Milbank in all past and future Justice for Palestine programming.”

The letter continued, “Administrators would later reveal that Milbank had gone so far as to demand that JFP’s Milbank funding be rescinded completely. According to Dean [Martha] Minow, this was not a demand her administration could honor, so Milbank decided to pull out all of its annual… funding as a result of her administration’s ‘principled stance’ in support of our right to speak openly and honestly about Palestine.”

Milbank itself rejected this version of the events in correspondence published just two days after the original program. Milbank clarified that JFP had “included a reference on [its] Facebook page that created a false impression that Milbank endorsed the views expressed by group. At the request of Harvard Law School, the sponsoring student organization has removed that statement from its website.”

Assistant Dean Robb London directly disputed the students’ claims about Milbank’s behavior. On Thursday, he told The Algemeiner:

Milbank was never involved in the Law School’s decisions about which events to fund or not to fund.  Milbank never asked the Law School to consider rescinding Milbank funds that had been distributed to JFP or any other student organization. Nor did Milbank ever request the Law School to use its funding for some events or organizations but not others. Most specifically, Milbank never asked the Law School to deny future funding to JFP.

The law school also released a statement Thursday clarifying that Milbank has not cancelled its $1 million gift to the school, but will simply redirect it to other purposes. The firm, it explained, decided there are other ways it could support the law school that “avoid creating any misimpressions that the firm endorses the viewpoints expressed by any particular student organization.”

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  • norma wolens

    Kudos to Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow for her rare act of exposing the hatred and deception of the Justice for Palestine organization. For too long JFP has shown its contempt for ideas Americans hold dear, freedom of speech, justice, honor. JFP functions to deceive and corrupt those who lack the light of intelligence in order to achieve their own nefarious undemocratic interests.

  • Wm. J. Levy

    Who are these anti Jew, anti-Israel groups at Harvard?

    When does being anti-Jew and anti-Israel belong with being anti-Black and have the same political clout.

    Jews have always been the easiest targets because they don’t fight back. They’ll fight for any cause but their own and they are hated by most people in the U.S & the world according to the 2014 ADL and the other Jewish group.

    I don’t like being hated and want those haters to fear Jews and what Jews can do to them.

    STOP BEING SO WEAK AND REMEMBER YOUR HERITAGE. JUDAISM DID NOT BEGIN WITH THE HOLOCAUST.

    It seems to have ended with the Holocaust though.

    • Meyer Mussry

      Will,

      You are right.

      Our problem is that we have assimilated too well, we are largely invisible, and we are ashamed or scared to be identified.

      For the last 7 years, even though I am not frum, I have worn a kippah to show to everyone “Here stands a Jew”. We need this to become a movement on campus and in the workplace, so people will see us as being regular people, not to be suspicious of. If we also then become more gracious and helpful towards others, recognising our status as ambassadors of the Jewish people, then that benefits us and our families, while it also creates a dissonance between the things that are said about us and observed reality.

      I should say that in all those years, I have never had one negative event occur as a result of how I look. In fact, it has been quite the opposite.

      In the Bible it is written: “If you forget who you are, then your enemies will remind you”. These words ring true every day. We should never be ashamed or apologetic for who we are, but stand up straight and proud. As a people we have, and continue to contribute to humanity way above our numbers.

      I’d love to see every campus Jew with the flags of the USA and Israel side by side, with the words “strong allies” underneath, on their blazers and bags. What a change in attitude and momentum that would bring!

      Another image that needs to be carried around is, against a backdrop of the WTC towers burning, a picture of the Israeli memorial service, contrasted with a picture of Palestinians handing out sweets. The Israeli picture should have “Friends” underneath, and the Palestinian picture should just have a question mark.

      This needs someone to start the movement. I don’t reside in the USA, and can’t do it myself. Do you know anyone who could?

  • stevenl

    JFP deception is the rule. Harvard like many other Universities must be receiving zillion of $ from the ME for their antisemitic ME studies.

  • No donated funds at Harvard or elsewhere should be used for JFP events.

    Plenty of money for flyers, posters, focus group slogans, and planned events is available and provided by hired Arab/Islamic public relations experts.

    The traveling “Apartheid Wall” is an example of this anti-Israel/ anti-Jewish well-planned and funded campaign.

  • Esther

    These dust ups on college campuses are rife. Makes a grandmother shudder
    for her grandkids.
    Esther

  • brenrod

    why seek to preserve the free speech of those spreading inciting libels which end up murdering Jews?

  • carol greenwald

    It is too bad that Milbank did not cancel its $1 million contribution but at least they registered their disapproval which is more than many Jewish donors do.

  • Leslie

    So now that Harvard knows just what kind of liars they have in JFP, why don’t they shut them down? Fine them? Sanction them? Mark on each student member’s record, “LIAR?”

    • JFP Student

      Great question!

      Answer: Because JFP’s knowledge of these facts was based exclusively off of what the Dean told them (as well as the statement Milbank issued to NGO Monitor).

      Note that this new statement does not explicitly deny anything in the JFP statement (namely, that the Dean told JFP that Milbank wanted to pull its money from JFP, and that they pulled all of their money out because she took a “principled stance” and said no).

      The HLS administration is clearly struggling to cover its (and Milbank’s) ass here. Both this and the previous statement (which curiously did not include any of the last three sentences in this new statement) are very carefully worded.

      Read them closely and you’ll see that they are not denying any of JFP’s claims.

      • Gary Katz

        So you claim the Dean is lying and not your group? That would be inconsistent with the deceptive practices of your group. By the way, I’ve been looking for your denunciation of all the stabbing attacks against Israelis, but strangely, none seem to exist. Does “justice” for Palestine include the right to stab, stone, shoot and run over Jews?

        • Fact Lives Matter

          Gary, we both know the answer there.

      • Fact Lives Matter

        No. You tried to once again make yourselves the victims and it backfired on you. And those of us who know anti-Semitism when we smell it are enjoying it. Why do you think you can deny an Israeli the right to speak, but when your pizza money is taken away, you whine about your free speech rights? Must be because, unlike in the US or Israel, you believe only some people deserve the right to free speech?Well, I guess considering who the primary architects and funders of BDS are, that was a reasonable assumption, since they are the worst human rights abusers on the planet. Not Israel. The dean of the law school debunked your claim of eternal victimhood. Hey, by the way: We’re still waiting for a statement – any statement – of condemnation for Saudi Arabia’s murdering a Palestinian poet. I guess his death only counts if you can blame it on a Jew?

    • Hear Hear!!!

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