Published Monday through Friday, the student-run Harvard Crimson is the oldest US volunteer college newspaper — since its founding in 1873.
Over 25 Crimson alumni won Pulitzer Prizes for post-graduate journalism.
Past Crimson editors included FDR, Class of 1904 and JFK, class of ’40, among other notable figures.
As a class of ’56 member, I didn’t write for the Crimson at a time when — though I worked hard to get good grades — what I disliked most were exams and term papers.
Before the internet age, it meant research in library stacks to learn what’s available online today.
In late April, the Crimson reversed its earlier position, stating the following in 2002 before BDS was founded in 2005 by activists Omar Barghouti and Ramy Shaat:
“Do Not Divest From Israel (sic).”
“The comparisons to South Africa are offensive, repugnant and detrimental to peace (sic).”
“There is a time and place for everything, including divestment—but now is not the time, and Israel is not the place (sic).”
In February 2020, a Crimson editorial headlined:
“A Place for Discussing BDS on Campus,” saying:
Comprised of students, the Harvard Jewish Coalition for Peace and Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine called for promoting BDS on Harvard’s campus.
In response, the Crimson editorialized as follows, saying:
“(W)e remain committed to free speech…”
At the same time, “we believe BDS as a whole does not get at the nuances and particularities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (sic).”
“To put it another way, we think it’s important to critically distinguish between the ends of the movement, many of which we largely agree with, and the precision of its proposed means to affect those end.”
The above sounds like Crimson 2020 editors wanted their cake while wanting to eat it, too.
Admitting that “systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians is worthy of unequivocal condemnation,” Crimson editors added:
Israeli/Palestinian issues “are complicated (sic).”
In 2020, Crimson editors opposed BDS for wrongheaded reasons.
In late April, 2022 Crimson editors endorsed the movement for the right reasons, headlining:
“In Support of Boycott, Divest, Sanctions and a Free Palestine,” saying the following:
“When oppression strikes anywhere in the world, resistance movements reverberate globally.”
“The desire for rightful justice spreads, like wildfire, moving us to act, to speak, to write, and right our past wrongs.”
“(S)upport for Palestinian liberation is not antisemitic.”
Earlier Crimson editors falsely suggested otherwise.
There’s nothing anti-Semitic or wrongheaded about supporting equity and justice according to the rule of law over the other way around.
Earlier I stressed the following, updated with some current thoughts, saying:
The global BDS movement is the single most effective campaign against Israeli apartheid ruthlessness.
Over time, growing boycotts, divestments and sanctions take their toll.
They inflict economic and political harm on Israel, what’s essential to continue and strengthen.
BDS effectiveness is why dark forces in the US, elsewhere throughout the West, and in the Jewish state want the movement undermined and eliminated, even criminalized.
There’s nothing anti-Semitic, wrongheaded or unlawful about anti-Zionism, anti-Israel, or promoting boycotts, divestments and sanctions of the Jewish state.
They’re over Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people, its apartheid viciousness, institutionalized racism, occupation harshness, state terror, preemptive wars, economic strangulation, land theft, ethnic cleansing, mass arrests, gulag imprisonments, torture, targeted killings, suffocating Gazans by slow-motion genocide, and other crimes related to the above ones.
They’re because for time immemorial, accountability was never forthcoming.
Justice was never served. Palestinian suffering is longstanding with no end of it in prospect.
It’s not a sometime thing.
It’s an every day thing.
Israel does whatever it pleases in defiance of the rule of law.
And Palestinians pay dearly for their highest of high crimes — while the world community looks the other way, ignoring their suffering in support of apartheid viciousness.
To the credit of 2022 Crimson editors, they support the fundamental rights of everyone — Jews and non-Jews alike, “including Palestinians (to) life, peace and security.”
“Israel remains America’s favorite first amendment blindspot,” the explained.
“Companies that choose to boycott the Jewish state, or otherwise support the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement face legal repercussions in at least 26 states.”
“Even for journalists, openly condemning (Israeli) policies poses an objective professional risk.”
“For college students like ourselves, speaking bluntly about events in the region can prompt online harassment or even land you on a blacklist.”
Despite the risk, 2022 Crimson editors minced no words, stressing:
“Palestinians, in our board’s view, deserve dignity and freedom.”
“We support the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement as a means to achieving that goal.”
“We regret and reject” earlier opposition to, then equivocation, about BDS.
There’s nothing “blunt” about doing the right thing, about being on the right side of history for reversing justice denied.
As current Crimson board members, “we are proud to finally lend our support to both Palestinian liberation and BDS — and we call on everyone to do the same.”
In response to endorsement of BDS by 2022 Crimson editors, dozens of Harvard current faculty members slammed them.
So did two emeritus and two emerita professors, including:
Emerita Professor of Yiddish Literature, Ruth Wisse — a woman I sharply criticized years earlier for her one-sided support of Israel at the expense of Palestinian rights, calling her a “pro-Israeli zealot,” and:
Emeritus Professor of Law, Alan Dershowitz — a figure I earlier called a notorious bigot, an Islamophobe, a purveyor of myths, canards, and false logic, a misinterpreter of fundamental law, an advocate for torture and targeted assassinations, a committed Zionist and Israeli apologist — ignoring its high crimes.
A statement by current and former Harvard faculty members said the following in part:
“(W)e are dismayed (about) the Crimson Editorial Board’s enthusiastic endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel (sic).”
“(W)e are united in our opposition to BDS and The Crimson stance (sic).”
We’re “steadfast (in support of) Harvard’s ties with (apartheid) Israel.”
The signatories defied reality by falsely claiming that BDS “contributes to anti-Semitism (sic).”
Nor is BDS “disrespectful of Jews (sic).”
Nor is the movement opposed to “coexistence (and) peace building (for) a two-state solution (sic).”
The time is long past when Jews need “refuge and a safe haven.”
No threat exists to them throughout the West or in most other countries.
Instead of opposing the scourge of Zionism, Harvard faculty signatories expressed wholehearted support for what the late Joel Kovel called an extremist ideology that fosters “imperialist expansion and militarism (with) signs of fascist malignancy,” adding:
It turned Israel “into a machine for the manufacture of human rights abuses” — led by its blood-thirsty criminal class, masquerading as democrats, an anathema notion in Israel and throughout the West.
Decades of Israeli state terror stem from Zionism’s roots — harming Jews and non-Jews alike.
Tyranny by another name, the ideology is extremist, undemocratic, hateful, ruthless, racist, destructive, and hostile to peace, equity and justice.
Contemptuous of legal, moral and ethical principles, Zionist ideology threatens everyone and everything it opposes.
It’s a cancer infesting Israel, America, other Western societies and elsewhere.
Like Nazism fostered Aryan superiority, Zionism considers Jews superior to others, especially Muslims — despite the common roots of both religions and Christianity.
They foster love, not hate; peace, not violence; good, not evil; charity, not exploitation; as well as equity and justice for all.
In his book titled “Jewish History, Jewish Religion,” Israel Shahak argued that while Islamic fundamentalism is vilified in the West, comparable Jewish extremism is largely ignored.
His “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel” book explained its destructive influence in Israeli politics, the military and society.
Calling all forms of bigotry morally reprehensible, he said “(a)ny form of racism, discrimination and xenophobia becomes more potent and politically influential if it is taken for granted by the society which indulges in it.”
“The support of democracy and human rights is…meaningless or even harmful and deceitful when it does not begin with self-critique and with support of human rights when they are violated by one’s own group.”
“Any support of human rights for non-Jews whose rights are being violated by the ‘Jewish state’ is as deceitful (and repugnant) as support of human rights by a Stalinist.”
Militarized occupation harshness — punctuated by daily violence against defenseless civilians and preemptive wars against invented internal and external enemies — cuts to the heart of what the scourge of Zionism is all about.
A force for evil, it’s polar opposite what just societies most cherish.
As a Harvard alum and supporter of peace, equity and justice for all — according to the rule of law — I stand with the endorsement of BDS by 2022 Crimson editors.
And sharply criticize polar opposite views of current and former Harvard faculty opponents of BDS.
On the wrong side of history, they support what demands condemnation and oppose the rights of Palestinians to breathe free from the scourge of Zionist oppression.