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The Pro-War Proclivities of Harvard’s ‘Anti-Apartheid’ Speakers

avatar by David M. Litman

Opinion

Widener Library at Harvard University. Photo: Joseph Williams

To find more evidence of the emptiness of the “apartheid” slur against Israel, one can quickly look at this week’s “Israeli Apartheid Week” at Harvard University.

These activists are not opposed to some imaginary “Israeli apartheid,” but to the right of states like Israel and Ukraine, and their respective peoples, to exist.

So much for Mehdi Hasan’s laughable attempts to compare Israel to Russia.

Every day this week, the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee (Harvard PSC) is hosting a number of speakers who unintentionally illuminate a fundamental truth about anti-Israel activists: they’re not interested in promoting human rights, but in denying human rights to disfavored groups.

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While purportedly a week about the imagined evils of Israel, many of the speakers selected by Harvard PSC have recently been loudest about Putin’s attempt to wipe Ukraine off the map.

Margeret Kimberley, who spoke on Monday, has a penchant for comparing Ukrainians to Nazis, and has been regularly sharing obvious Russian propaganda on Twitter. For example, Kimberley thinks the “real Nazis are in Ukraine” and that they’re preparing “a chemical weapon false flag” attack.

Another speaker, Abbas Muntaqim, is a producer at the Iranian state news agency Press TV. Muntaqim likes to claim that “neo-nazis, al qaeda, and anarchists are all linked up fighting the Russians,” and that is “all you need to know about this Ukrainian regime.”

Noam Chomsky, who has a habit of downplaying or denying atrocities committed in places like Srebrenica and Syria, is another featured speaker. Just a few days ago, he told Ukrainians to “pay attention to the world” and to surrender to Russia’s invasion.

Unsurprisingly for an “Israeli Apartheid Week,” many of these speakers not only run interference for Russian attempts to wipe Ukraine off the map, but also condone Palestinian terrorism and Arab wars meant to wipe the Jewish state off the map.

Muntaqim, for example, celebrates Iran for providing rockets and other weapons to “the Palestinian resistance,” and labels the former Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani as a “hero of humanity” for fighting “against the Zionist regime as well as the amerikan [sic] empire…”

Another panelist, Mouin Rabbani, once lamented that Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel, because that “took the Arab military option against Israel off the table,” and thus the Palestinians and Arab states could no longer “apply meaningful military pressure” on Israel. In Rabbani’s upside-down world, this somehow deprives the Palestinians of a “credible diplomatic option.” Bear in mind that the “military option” was exercised repeatedly in 1948-49, 1967, and 1973, not for the sake of a diplomatic two-state solution, but in order to destroy the Jewish state in its entirety.

Norman Finkelstein, who will speak on Thursday, has refused to condemn Palestinian terror attacks against innocent civilians; expressed solidarity with the terrorist organization Hezbollah; and even claimed that “Hezbollah has the right to target Israeli civilians.”

Another panelist, Harvard Law student Lea Kayali, once described the terrorist Ghassan Kanafani on Twitter as “a true Palestinian revolutionary,” followed by several heart emojis.

Kanafani was a leading figure in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, when it carried out the Lod Airport Massacre that left 26 civilians dead (most of them Puerto Rican Christian pilgrims). Similarly, Kayali thinks Rasmea Odeh, who was involved in the bombing of a Jerusalem supermarket, killing two young Israeli college students, is not a terrorist, but simply a “Palestinian American organizer.”

Kayali also believes that “all [Palestinian] prisoners are political prisoners,” which would include individuals like the Palestinian terrorist who raped and murdered 19-year-old Israeli Ori Ansbacher.

The consequences of this extremist rhetoric will inevitably be felt not just by Israelis and Ukrainians, but others as well. Whoever would uniquely deny a people their right to self-determination and justify violence to erase the sovereign states embodying their self-determination, will inevitably find other ways to demean, exclude, and demonize similar people wherever they may be found.

While Kayali half-heartedly attempts to claim there’s a difference between Judaism and Zionism so she can demonize and justify violence against “Zionists,” she also bitterly described Beachwood, Ohio — known for its high number of Jewish residents — as “the most Zionist town in the Cleveland area.”

So much for that façade.

Many of the other speakers never even bothered trying to veil their antisemitic beliefs. Finkelstein has praised a Holocaust denier as a “very good historian,” and infamously popularized the “Holocaust industry” libel, enabling antisemites everywhere to echo his claims that Jews use the Holocaust for ulterior motives.

Rabbani enjoys taunting Jews by employing Holocaust inversion and revisionism, claiming that one of the main Nazi architects of the Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, was actually a Zionist. Kimberley, too, couldn’t pass up a chance to engage in the time-honored tradition of the blood libel, by accusing Israelis of being “baby killers.”

Harvard PSC is unintentionally telling us the truth: that “anti-apartheid” activism has little if anything to do with real or imagined human rights violations. By featuring a buffet of hatemongers and warmongers for its “Israeli Apartheid Week,” it is showing us that everything is about the violent rejection of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

When someone tells you what they really are about, you should believe them.

David M. Litman is a Research Analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).

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