‘Your move’: Anti-Israel Harvard students issue demands to school president

Demands included reinstating Elom Tettey-Tamaklo who and mobbed a Jewish student, not pursuing disciplinary actions against students who occupied University Hall for 24 hours, and joining BDS.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

Dozens of anti-Israel student groups at Harvard University, along with several allied campus groups across the US, have issued a set of demands to Harvard President Claudine Gay and given her until Monday to respond, adding further fuel to what’s become an explosive situation at one of the world’s most elite universities over the Israel-Hamas war.

Earlier this week, students protested on campus and issued a list of demands, which included the reinstatement of a student proctor who three weeks ago participated in mobbing a Jewish student and screaming “Shame!” into his ears.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the campus newspaper, the university had suspended indefinitely Elom Tettey-Tamaklo, a second-year student at the Harvard Divinity School, from his role as a proctor over his involvement in the incident, a video of which went viral earlier this month. Tettey-Tamaklo reportedly has been ordered to vacate free housing he received as compensation for holding the position, which gives graduates the opportunity to mentor freshmen.

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This week, the students also demanded that Gay commit to pursuing no disciplinary or punitive actions against “pro-Palestinian students and workers engaging in non-violent protest.” The letter came as, according to The Harvard Crimson, eight undergraduate students had been summoned to hearings as part of disciplinary proceedings against students who last week occupied University Hall on campus for 24 hours.

The third demand in the letter to Gay was for Harvard to “disclose [its] investments in the internationally recognized illegal settlements in Palestine and divest from those holdings” — an apparent nod to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The BDS campaign seeks to isolate Israel from the international community as a step toward the Jewish state’s eventual elimination.

“Harvard University continues to attempt to silence the voices of those who refuse to watch idly by as crimes against humanity are committed against the Palestinian people,” said the letter containing the demands. “The university continually wants to ‘affirm their commitment to protecting all members of our community from harassment and marginalization.’ However, they are currently attempting to fire a Black first-year proctor, Elom, for standing on the side of justice.”

The letter additionally chastised Gay for earlier this month condemning the popular anti-Israel chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — a slogan that has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of Israel, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

“We request a response by the end of Thanksgiving break on Monday, November 27th,” the letter concluded. “The whole of Boston and the broader movement is behind us — your move.”

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During last week’s occupation at University Hall, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana told the students to leave the building. The students demanded in exchange guarantees that they would not be punished, written responses to their demands for a ceasefire in Gaza, a statement declaring that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism, and a meeting between the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) and Gay. Khurana refused to accede to their demands.

The incident followed weeks of Harvard receiving criticism for hesitating to condemn a letter that PSC and dozens of other student groups signed blaming Israel for Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israeli communities. Hamas terrorists murdered over 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped more than 240 others as hostages in their rampage last month.

Harvard’s response angered major donors to the university, some of whom said they were considering or outright ended their relationships with the school.

Jewish alumni spoke out as well. Earlier this month, more than 1,200 Jewish alumni of Harvard signed a letter to the university’s president and dean demanding action to combat rising antisemitism on campus. The graduates formed the first Jewish alumni association in the history of Harvard.

Gay, who was appointed as Harvard’s first Black president last December, has since announced the formation of an Antisemitism Advisory Group.

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The group, she explained, plans to implement several reforms, including a historical examination of the roots of antisemitism at Harvard, educational programming highlighting the antisemitic origins of anti-Israel rhetoric, raising awareness of anonymous reporting of antisemitic incidents, forging relationships with external groups, and for the first time ever incorporating Holocaust Remembrance Day and Jewish American Heritage Month into the school’s calendar.

“Harvard was founded to advance human dignity through education,” Gay said. “We inherited a faith in reason to overcome ignorance, in truth to surmount hate. Antisemitism is destructive to our mission. We will not solve every disagreement, bridge every divide, heal every wound. But if we shrink from this struggle, we betray our ideals.”