Harvard University’s Palestine Solidarity Committee decided to advertise for “Israel Apartheid Week,” which was recently organized on college campuses worldwide, by posting mock eviction notices inside dorms where Jewish students live. One eviction notices was even placed on a students bedroom door, instead of on the building itself. The mock eviction notices proclaimed, “We regret to inform you that your suite is scheduled for demolition within the next three days.”
Jewish students at Harvard University were outraged. Steven J. Tricanowicz proclaimed that he felt that the Harvard University Palestine Solidarity Committee “did a very bad job” of promoting constructive debate. He furthermore asserted, “I feel like [Israeli Apartheid Week] goes against what Harvard stands for as a place for open academic dialogue, open thoughts, and open intellectual activity. I find it kind of concerning that an event is going on in a way that promotes polarization and closed-mindedness.”
Sara Kantor, co-chair of the Harvard Students for Israel and a former President of Harvard Hillel, believes that the Harvard Israel Apartheid Week is “inherently problematic.” She continued, “We feel bad responding to something that is so outside the spectrum of what we are willing to engage in. The issue is that it no longer becomes a question of dialogue—it simply becomes rhetoric and demonizes an entire nation and people.”
The Anti-Defemation League similarly denounced the Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee activity of handing out mock eviction notices. According to Robert Trestan, ADL Acting New England Regional Director, “This tactic is designed to silence and intimidate pro-Israel advocates at Harvard and campuses around the country. Free expression has a place on campus; however targeting the dorms of Harvard students lends itself to creating tension, isolating students and fomenting hostility. We recognize and support free speech, but condemn the anti-Israel views expressed in the eviction notices as factually incorrect and intolerant. This is an example of how anti-Israel activism on campus can cross the line by causing supporters to feel isolated and intimidated.”
In addition to the mock eviction notices, the “Israel Apartheid Week” at Harvard University hosted an “Apartheid Wall” in the Science Center Plaza meant to mimic Israel’s Security Barrier, a film-screening of the anti-Israel documentary “Five Broken CAMERAS,” and a lecture by the anti-Israel activist Noam Chomsky, who despite being Jewish disagrees with Israel’s very right to exist.
This incident follows the Kennedy School of Government sponsoring anti-Israel lectures by Oren Yiftachel, who claims that Israel is undergoing “creeping apartheid,” and former PLO legal adviser Dianna Buttu, who believes that the purpose of Israel being a Jewish state is to “facilitate the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.” Harvard students also sponsored a One State conference about one year ago featuring Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada; Dalit Baum, who runs an organization supporting BDS, and Ilan Pappe, who was caught engaging in plagiarism just to demonize Israel.
This was not the first instance where anti-Israel activists on an American college campus sent out mock eviction notices. Last year, over 200 Jewish students at Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Rotan campus also received mock eviction notices distributed by the Students for Justice in Palestine. Rayna Exelbierd, who was then a sophomore studying there, stated at the time, “We’re considering it a hate crime. The flier promotes hate; it doesn’t promote peace. People were scared by it. People felt threatened by it.”
By Rachel Avraham