Harvard students stand strong for Palestine despite intimidation

Several Harvard students who signed onto a statement supporting Palestinian struggle have been persecuted by Zionists

October 21, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Harvard Students have been met with serious backlash for their stance in solidarity with Palestine. Photo: ANSWER Coalition

Shortly following the historic Palestinian resistance offensive into Israel and the beginning of the bombing campaign of Gaza by Israeli forces, dozens of student organizations at one of the most elite universities in the world took a bold stance—unequivocally citing the state of Israel as responsible for all violence in the region. “We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,” read the first sentence of a student solidarity statement at Harvard University, spearheaded by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee.

“The apartheid regime is the only one to blame,” reads the letter. “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. Today, the Palestinian ordeal enters into uncharted territory. The coming days will require a firm stand against colonial retaliation.”

The student signatories immediately experienced the harshest backlash from wealthy and powerful Zionists. Billionaire, hedge fund CEO, and Harvard alum Bill Ackman called for the release of all names associated with the letter and a blacklist of those students from employment. “I have been asked by a number of CEOs if [Harvard] would release a list of the members of each of the Harvard organizations that have issued the letter assigning sole responsibility for Hamas’ heinous acts to Israel, so as to insure that none of us inadvertently hire any of their members,” he wrote in a tweet. The CEOs in support of this were Jonathan Neman, David Duel and Jake Wurzak.

That was exactly what ended up happening to those students. A truck with an LED screen circulated the Harvard campus advertising the names and faces of students who signed onto the statement, accompanied by the words “Harvard’s leading antisemites.” The truck was paid for by Adam Guillette, who runs the right-wing corporation Accuracy in Media. An elite law firm rescinded job offers for students associated with the letter.

One such student was Kojo Acheampong, member of the African American Resistance Organization at Harvard. Him and fellow AFRO member Amari M. Butler were both featured on the infamous truck, but that has not stopped them from organizing for Palestine since. “We will never feel ashamed of our support of the Palestinian people,” said Butler at a recent rally on Harvard’s campus. “We will never be harassed into silence.”

Acheampong stated following his doxxing, “When people in the US supported the BDS movement they were targeted for censure. When the Palestinian people in 2018-19 launched the nonviolent movement called the Great March of Return they were shot down by Israeli snipers. Hundreds were shot dead and thousands were wounded. The US supporters of the nonviolent movement were ignored by the mainstream media or demonized by Israeli supporters. Every form of opposition to Israeli apartheid, whether it is nonviolent or involves armed resistance, is condemned. Now those who support the Palestinian people are accused of being supporters of terrorism.”

A petition has been launched by the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition to oppose the targeting of these Harvard students, and “reject the campaign that tries to silence those who support the Palestinian people in their just struggle against occupation and apartheid.”

“We the undersigned stand with the courageous students at Harvard and elsewhere who are being attacked because they stand with the people of Palestine,” reads the petition. Signers include others in academia who have also been targeted based on their pro-Palestine views, including Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi, San Francisco State University Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Nasser Rabbat. Other signers include scholar and journalist Vijay Prashad, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and former US political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim.