Sunday, March 26th | 5 Nisan 5783

February 3, 2023 11:41 am

Boston Globe Adds Weight to Bizarre Conspiracy Theories About Palestinian Campus Activism

× [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


Matthews Hall, Harvard University. Photo: Daderot/Wikimedia Commons.

“There’s a very big power imbalance between pro-Palestinian voices on campus and those that oppose them,” is the view of Nadia Bahour, a recent graduate of Harvard University, in comments given to the Boston Globe.

Bahour, who was raised in Ramallah, contends that when she arrived at the prestigious college in 2018 as an undergraduate, she was disappointed to see there was an “overall fear” among students to discuss Palestinian issues.

However, it would appear that the Boston Globe’s Higher Education reporter Hilary Burns did not bother probing this specious assertion, considering not one example is given of this supposedly stifling climate of anti-Palestinian censorship.

Instead, vague reference is made to a group of “professors who want to speak out on Palestine” but are prevented from doing so because of alleged professional risks — this “phenomenon,” Burns claims, is what unnamed researchers and lawyers have dubbed the “Palestinian exception to free speech.”

Related coverage

March 26, 2023 12:58 pm

‘The System has Failed:’ Antisemitism Flourishes in France - Five years ago, an 85-year-old survivor of the Holocaust, Mireille Knoll, was brutally murdered in her apartment in...

Again, specific examples of how this apparent exception is manifested on campus are not provided.

Rather, Burns cites the recent Ken Roth controversy, which saw the former executive director of chronically anti-Israel pressure group Human Rights Watch (HRW) sensationally accuse Harvard’s Kennedy School of blocking a fellowship due to his criticism of the Jewish state — a decision that was later reversed after Roth threw the most colossal and public of temper tantrums.

Quoting Roth’s conspiratorial suggestion that there is a shadowy effort to marginalize criticism of Israel on campus, Burns fails to offer readers the most obvious and critical piece of evidence that refutes Roth’s deluded ramblings — the fact that just under three years ago, Harvard Kennedy School announced the late Palestinian politician Saeb Erekat would be among four fellows for its Future of Diplomacy Project.

In Roth’s mind, the same school that had no problem hiring the architect of the so-called ‘Martyrs’ Fund,‘ which rewards Palestinian terrorists for killing Israeli civilians, decided to block his fellowship, because he has been overly critical of Israel.

Unfortunately, the wild conspiracies come thick and fast in the Globe’s piece.

Burns also quotes Sarah Ihmoud, a sociocultural anthropologist at the College of the Holy Cross, who alleges she was unfairly smeared as an antisemite while she was a postdoctoral fellow at Boston University studying the “tribulations of Palestinian women.”

Ihmoud claims that Boston University mysteriously declined to offer her a tenure-track position in its sociology department for which she was being considered in the wake of this alleged campaign against her.

The distinct possibility that Ihmoud did not get the position simply because other candidates were better qualified than her is not even considered.

Another academic, sociologist Randa Serhan, is also given space to air her groundless belief that she was denied tenure at the American University because one of her colleagues complained that her research on Palestinian Americans was “harming the Israeli studies department.”

While Burns does quote Jewish and pro-Israel students in the piece, including the former head of the Harvard Hillel, she fails to actually document the many incidents at Harvard that serve to rebut the entire premise of the article that pro-Palestinian voices are being muzzled.

For example, Burns could have told Globe readers how the Harvard Crimson, the university’s student newspaper, last year reversed a 20-year-old policy to officially endorse the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks to delegitimize, ostracize, and dismantle the Jewish state.

Or Burns could have referenced how in May 2021, as proscribed terrorist group Hamas was raining rockets down on Israeli towns and cities, a total of 89 student groups at Harvard signed a letter condemning Israel and urging students to “take action” against alleged “years of systematic oppression and ethnic cleansing committed by the State of Israel.”

In a bid to bolster the fallacious premise that university campuses in general are intolerant places for those critical of Israel, Burns includes some statistics from a group known for its support of BDS activities within universities:

Palestine Legal in Chicago, which represents people who speak out for Palestinian rights, said it responded to 1,688 incidents on college campuses between 2014 and 2022. Founder Liz Jackson said there is a large lobby of organizations focused on stifling criticisms or calls for boycotts of Israel.

So why not also mention the hundreds of anti-Israel incidents that occur on campuses in America every single year? Documented by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), these instances have included Jewish students being physically assaulted, verbally harassed, and antisemitic graffiti daubed on Hillel buildings and other places.

The Boston Globe has every right to publish articles about the campus experiences of Palestinian college students in the United States. But perhaps the publication should reconsider its decision to print the conspiratorial ramblings of young academics who didn’t get the jobs they wanted.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.