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April 25, 2023 10:33 am

The Harvard Crimson at 150: How the Nation’s Oldest Student Newspaper Went off the Anti-Israel Deep End

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avatar by Akiva Van Koningsveld


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

The Harvard Crimson, the prestigious student-run newspaper at America’s most elite university, has produced journalists who have gone on to populate positions of power in major news organizations throughout the nation, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and Foreign Policy, and counts more than 25 Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni.

That is, perhaps, what makes the recent radical shift in its editorial stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict especially disconcerting.

Exactly one year ago this week, the newspaper, which will celebrate its sesquicentennial this weekend in the presence of hundreds of supporters and former writers, officially endorsed the controversial Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to isolate and demonize Israel.

Notably, the Crimson’s April 29, 2022, editorial, titled “In Support of Boycott, Divest, Sanction and a Free Palestine,” marked a 180-degree reversal of the paper’s longstanding stance against boycotting the Jewish state, and was approved for publication amid a deadly campaign of Palestinian terrorism targeting Israeli civilians.

Now, a dive into the Crimson’s 2022-2023 coverage of Israel and Jewish issues suggests that some of its current staff has fully gone off the deep end of activism disguised as journalism, as blatant anti-Israel editorializing has become a regular occurrence on the pages of the country’s oldest continuously printed student daily.

The Harvard Crimson’s Israel Obsession

Between April 24, 2022, and April 24, 2023, the Crimson ran almost 40 news articles and op-eds that touched upon Israel and the Palestinians — considerably more than the combined total of pieces it published about Iran’s women’s revolution (seven), the catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey and Syria (five), and the shocking human rights violations surrounding Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup (one).

While the excessive focus on just one Middle Eastern state in opinion essays can possibly be explained as a symptom of proven rampant anti-Jewish sentiments among swaths of the student body, several Crimson editors have also personally demonstrated a clear bias in the publication’s news columns.

For instance, reporting on an April 9, 2023, rally by extremist campus groups in response to altercations between Palestinian rioters and Israeli security forces at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, staff writers Cam Kettles and Neil Shah charged the Jewish state with “police violence.” In truth, anti-riot officers only entered the Muslim holy site on April 5 to restore order after agitators, armed with fireworks, batons, and stones, refused to leave. According to eyewitness reports, masked rioters had closed the mosque’s doors, locking peaceful worshipers inside.

Janna Ramadan, who has served as a Crimson editor since at least 2021, doubles as one of the lead campaigners in the PSC. Two months ago, she appeared at a forum at the Kennedy School wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh and a necklace that erased Israel off the map. Unsurprisingly, the activist has denied the Jewish state’s right to exist within any borders, claiming in a 2021 tweet that Israel has occupied “Palestine” since 1948. Moreover, she mourned terrorists who carried out stabbing attacks, and retweeted a post that called for the release of PFLP terrorist Khalida Jarrar.

For her part, Crimson associate editor Labiba Uddin, who in an October 2022 op-ed mentioned a “large Palestinian flag” donning her dorm room, signed a PSC letter demanding the Harvard Kennedy School “sever all association” with retired IDF major general Amos Yadlin. Among other slanderous charges, the missive accused the Jewish state of “six decades of …  ethnic cleansing, settler colonialism, and apartheid.”

Suddenly, it becomes clear why the Crimson continues to pump out slanted pieces about Israel.

On the “About” page of the Crimson website, the newspaper boasts of its “rich tradition of journalistic integrity” and the fact that it “counts among its ranks of editorship some of America’s greatest journalists.” Yet as the Crimson marks 150 years since the first issue went to press, its editorial team has apparently lost all integrity when it comes to reporting on the conflict between Israel and some of its Arab neighbors.

Perhaps next year’s editors should take a clue from Harvard’s 187-year-old motto: Veritas (truth).

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.

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