Harvard University and some of its students are facing backlash after 34 student groups signed a statement blaming Israel for the Hamas invasion last week. The terrorist group killed infants and children, raped and murdered women, and took almost 200 hostages.

“More than 1,400 Israelis have died since the Hamas assault began,” The Wall Street Journal reported on October 16, adding, “In Gaza, officials said the Palestinian death toll is at 2,750. The number of U.S. citizens killed has risen to 30, while 13 remain unaccounted for.”

The Wexner Foundation sent a letter to the university, saying it was ending its partnership with Harvard’s Kennedy School, the university’s school of government and public policy, reported Judah Ari Gross, news editor at eJewishPhilanthropy.

The foundation joins donors, CEOs, university board members, alumni and others who are criticizing both the university and the members of student groups that signed the statement.

The Harvard Palestinian Committee wrote the “Joint Statement by Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups on the Situation in Palestine,” and coordinated the signing by 33 other student groups. The statement said:

We the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence. …

The apartheid regime is the only one to blame. Israeli violence has structured every aspect of Palestinian existence for 75 years. From systematized land seizures to routine airstrikes, arbitrary detentions to military checkpoints, and enforced family separations to targeted killings, Palestinians have been forced to live in a state of death, both slow and sudden.

We call on the Harvard community to take action to stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians.

Some student organizations have since removed their signatures from the letter, and individual group members have disavowed knowledge of the statement before it was released.

The Wexner Foundation’s letter chastised the school for not taking a stand against student support for terrorism:

In the absence of this clear moral stand, we have determined that the Harvard Kennedy School and The Wexner Foundation are no longer compatible partners. Our core values and those of Harvard no longer align. HKS is no longer a place where Israeli leaders can go to develop the necessary skills to address the very real political and societal challenges they face.

“The Wexner Foundation develops and inspires leaders in the North American Jewish Community and the State of Israel,” the group’s mission statement reads. The philanthropy was founded by Les Wexner, the founder and chairman emeritus of Bath and Body Works. The organization is primarily focused on education, offering graduate fellowships to business professionals and Israeli public officials.

In its letter to the Harvard Board of Overseers, the Wexner Foundation said:

We have observed that this cherished tolerance for diverse perspectives has slowly but perceptibly narrowed over the years. A disappointing consequence of this trend is that our Wexner Israel Fellows are increasingly marginalized, their voices and views even shouted down. …

We are stunned and sickened at the dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take a clear and unequivocal stand against the barbaric murders of innocent Israeli civilians by terrorists last Saturday, the Sabbath and a festival day. …

Hamas, “a Palestinian Islamic national liberation and resistance movement,” was formed in 1987 and calls for replacing Israel with an Islamic state. In 2017, the group released a covenant which includes these statements:   

Palestine is a land that was seized by a racist, anti-human and colonial Zionist project that was founded on a false promise (the Balfour Declaration), on recognition of a usurping entity and on imposing a fait accompli by force. …

Palestine is an Arab Islamic land. It is a blessed sacred land that has a special place in the heart of every Arab and every Muslim. …

The Zionist project is a racist, aggressive, colonial and expansionist project based on seizing the properties of others; it is hostile to the Palestinian people and to their aspiration for freedom, liberation, return and self-determination. The Israeli entity is the plaything of the Zionist project and its base of aggression.

Wexner joined others who disapprove of the school, including Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer and his wife, Batia, who quit the Executive Board of Harvard’s Kennedy School. Other business leaders condemned the school, including billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, Harvard graduate and billionaire investor Ken Griffin, and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and former Harvard President Larry Summers.

Ackman called on Harvard to release the names of the students, “So as to insure that none of us inadvertently hire any of their members.” He added:

One should not be able to hide behind a corporate shield when issuing statements supporting the actions of terrorists, who, we now learn, have beheaded babies, among other inconceivably despicable acts.

Griffin also said he would blacklist heads of the student groups from Harvard who signed the statement.

Townhall published a list of some of the students, and the New York Post reported:

A “doxxing truck” is driving around the campus of Harvard University with digital billboards that display the names and photos of students who allegedly signed a letter blaming Israel for Hamas’ violent attack that killed more than 1,200 people over the weekend.

The video screens labeled the students’ “Harvard’s Leading anti-Semites.”

Despite the backlash, support for Hamas remains strong at the university. A week after the attacks on Israel, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and Graduate Students 4 Palestine hosted a rally with more than 1,000 demonstrators.

The groups rallied against an imminent Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, The Harvard Crimson reported.

Related articles and resources:

Antisemitism — What It Is and Its Connection to the Israel-Hamas War

Focus on the Family Parenting:

Helping Kids Process Violence in the News and Social Media

Talking to Kids About Mass Violence

In Our Fallen and Suffering World, Take Refuge in the Lord

Israel-Hamas War — How Does Iran Fit In?

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