Harvard under fire again for inviting anti-Israel speaker

Dalal Saeb Iriqat an instructor in Jenin blamed Israel for ‘all the bloodshed and loss of civilians.’

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

Harvard University is enmeshed in another antisemitism controversy following reports that a Middle Eastern studies professor has invited Dalal Saeb Iriqat, an extreme anti-Zionist and alleged advocate of terrorism, to the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).

According to The Harvard Crimson, Tarek E. Masoud, director of Harvard’s Middle East Initiative (MEI), invited Dalal Saeb Iriqat as a speaker for MEI’s “Middle East Dialogue Series,” a slate of interviews that will also include former government officials such presidential adviser Jared Kushner and former Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister Salam Fayyad.

Iriqat, a Palestinian instructor employed by Arab American University, located in the West Bank city of Jenin, is most known for defending Hamas’ murdering and raping of civilians during its massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, an act she described on social media as “just a normal human struggle.”

In other posts, she said, “We will never forgive the Israeli right wing extreme government for making us take their children and elderly as hostages” and “The Israeli public need to realize that their own government had caused all this bloodshed and they remain the ones responsible for this [escalation] and losses of civilian lives.”

Masoud told The Harvard Crimson that he disagrees with Iriqat’s opinions but nothing about his bringing her to campus is inappropriate.

“If you are going to engage with Palestinians, you’re going to have to engage with these ideas,” he told the paper. “My view is that we have to subject these ideas — and all the ideas that we encounter — to polite but rigorous inquiry.”

He added, “For too long we haven’t done this work because we were more concerned with psychological safety rather than education. What I want is for our community to transcend emotions when confronted with ideas or speakers that we dislike, bring our best selves and strongest arguments to the table, and have it out.”

The US House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce is investigating Harvard University to determine whether it refused to address antisemitic discrimination on the campus — before and after Oct. 7 — and cynically defended the choice as observance of free speech protections enumerated in the first amendment of the US Constitution.

In a January letter requesting documents relevant to the committee’s investigation, Committee Chairwoman Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) cited numerous widely reported antisemitic incidents that occurred at Harvard last semester, including the mobbing of a Jewish student by a throng of anti-Israel activists — one of whom was the editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — screaming “Shame!” into his ears as he tried to get away. Students there have also chanted openly “globalize the intifada” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which are widely interpreted as calls for violence against Jews and the destruction of Israel.

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For Harvard, America’s oldest institution of higher education and arguably its most prestigious, the presence of radical anti-Zionists on campus has been a persistent issue. At the start of this academic year, a student and anti-Israel activist interrupted a convocation ceremony held by the school, shouting at Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana, “Here’s the real truth — Harvard supports, upholds, and invests in Israeli apartheid, and the oppression of Palestinians!”

The broader public did not take notice of the problem until Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, when, as scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide, 31 student groups at Harvard issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack and accusing the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza, despite the Israeli military withdrawing from the territory in 2005.

The string of controversies ultimately led to the resignation as president of Claudine Gay, who told Foxx’s committee in December that her determining whether calling for a genocide of Jews violates school rules would depend “on the context” in which the statement was uttered.

Harvard Kennedy School told The Harvard Crimson in a statement that Dean Douglas Elmendorf “personally finds abhorrent the comments by Dalal Saeb Iriqat quoted in the press that justify and normalize the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas” and that “an invitation to speak at the Kennedy School never implies an endorsement of a speaker’s views by the Kennedy School or members of the Kennedy School community.”

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