A total of seventy Harvard University faculty members have issued a statement expressing “dismay” over the Harvard Crimson Editorial Board’s endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.
Signatories include psychology prof. Steven Pinker, the law school’s Jessie Fried, former US Treasury secretary and university president Larry Summers and distinguished academics including Ruth Wisse and Alan Dershowitz.
The letter, which was organized by Harvard-affiliated members of the Academic Engagement Network (AEN), states: “As members of the faculty of Harvard University, we are dismayed by The Crimson Editorial Board’s enthusiastic endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel."
The statement came in response to an unsigned editorial published last month in the Harvard Crimson, offering a full-throated endorsement of the BDS movement, in a potent symbol of a changing campus climate regarding Israel.
The editorial also expressed support for Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee, a student group that has for the past week been hosting the school’s chapter of the annual “Israel Apartheid Week” international event.
The faculty addressed grave concerns about the impact that the Crimson BDS endorsement could have on the “well-being of Jewish and Zionist students at Harvard, some of whom have already reported that they have become alienated from the newspaper on account of the inhospitable culture that prevails there.”
The faculty further admonished Crimson for endorsing a movement that “compromises educational goals by turning the complex and intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a caricature that singles out only one side for blame with a false binary of oppressor versus oppressed” and proclaimed their support for “Harvard’s ties with Israel, a country that is home to some of the world’s best universities” that “our research and teaching missions benefit from.”
They also noted that while many people gravitate to BDS believing it offers a means for advancing Palestinian rights and peace in the Middle East, “the reality is that BDS merely coarsens the discourse on campus and contributes to antisemitism.
In seeking to delegitimize Israel through diplomatic, economic, academic, and cultural isolation, and by opposing the very notions of Jewish peoplehood and self-determination, BDS is disrespectful of Jews, the vast majority of whom view an attachment to Israel as central to their faith identity.”
The statement said that BDS does not advocate for coexistence, as the Crimson claims. Rather, according to Harvard faculty, "BDS negates the importance of Israel for Jewish continuity and as a refuge and safe haven for Jews who need one."