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May 21, 2021 5:04 pm
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Letter on Gaza Conflict Signed by Over 70 Harvard Faculty Decries ‘Denial’ of Palestinian ‘Right to Resist’

avatar by Jordan Esrig

Widener Library at Harvard University. Photo: Joseph Williams.

Over 70 Harvard faculty members signed a letter published Thursday affirming their “support for the Palestinian liberation struggle” and demanding that the United States “condemn Israeli state aggression.” 

“As US-based scholars who oppose racism and colonial violence in all its forms,” the letter read, “we write to express solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and self-determination.”

The letter called Israel an apartheid regime fueled by American support, and lambasted the Jewish state for facilitating “right-wing extremist attacks on Palestinians” and “the military attack on Gaza.” It made no mention of the thousands of rockets fired by the Hamas terrorist group at civilians in Israel during the conflict.

It also alleged that Palestinians are “denied the right to resist,” arguing that “Palestinian resistance in all its forms is criminalized by Israel and the US.”

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“Every measure of self-defense by a people without a state or an army against a nuclear power backed by the US is subject to immediate censure while Israel continues its violent aggressions with impunity,” the letter continued.

The letter was signed largely by members of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences, including ten affiliated with Harvard’s Department of African & African American Studies, 13 from the schools Anthropology Department, and 17 affiliated with the History and History of Science departments. Signatories included writer Teju Cole, composer Vijay Iyer, historian Walter Johnson, philosopher Susanna Siegel, and Evelynn M. Hammonds, an African American studies scholar and a former dean of Harvard College. 

A separate May 12 letter — signed by over 850 Harvard students, faculty, and alumni on behalf of Harvard’s “Palestine Caucus” — also condemned Israel for what it called a “history of ethnic cleaning and apartheid regime.” It denounced the University for investing 4% of Harvard’s $39.2 billion dollar endowment in the “Israeli settlement enterprise” and demanded Harvard make a public statement “rebuking Israel’s excessive use of force against Palestinian civilians.” 

The letter argued, “Since its establishment, Israel has implemented several forms of hegemonic rule over Palestinian lives, starting in 1948 with the military rule imposed on Palestinian areas in Historical Palestine and after the 1967 Six-Day war when Israel implemented military and economic control over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golan Heights.” 

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