We, the undersigned students, alumni, and friends of Harvard University, are appalled at Harvard’s decision to host and finance the “One-State Conference,” being held in the main forum of the Kennedy School of Government on March 3-4, 2012. The conference, which considers the dissolution of the present State of Israel, is not an academic endeavor, but a manifestation of the face of the “new anti-Semitism”.
The U.S. State Department defines anti-Semitism as “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist.” By presenting a one-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and discussing the ways to achieve it, this conference is advocating the demographic destruction of the Jewish State and thereby denying the right of the Jewish people to exercise their own sovereignty. The conference essentially calls for the dismantling of the existing State of Israel. By funding and hosting this conference, Harvard University is lending its name and providing a supportive forum to one of the most ancient forms of racial hatred.
Speakers at this conference include a former spokesperson for the terrorist group the Palestine Liberation Organization, supporters of the terrorist group Hamas, and presenters who routinely compare the policies of the Israeli government to those of apartheid South Africa and genocidal Nazi Germany. “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is also defined as anti-Semitism by the State Department. One of the conference co-organizers has written that “Zionism—is a racist doctrine,” that “the existence of colonial entities[Israel] is always a subject for debate,” and that “Zionism is not Judaism.” Thus, not only does the conference deny Israel’s right to self-determination, but it also provides a platform for the anti-Semitic views of a number of its speakers.
While we support Harvard’s defense of freedom of speech, extremists and anti-Semites should not be permitted to hide behind the false cover of academic freedom. We expect that Harvard would not, for example, fund a conference which trivializes the Holocaust or supports the Ku Klux Klan. These speakers have a right to speak their mind, no matter how vile, but this does not mean that Harvard must support them.
We call on Harvard University, in particular The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, the Sexuality, Gender and Human Rights Program at the Carr Center, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the Office of the Provost, to:
- withdraw all financial support of this conference
- prohibit the use of Harvard University facilities for the conference
- remove the logos of Harvard and Harvard affiliates from the conference website
- disavow the State Department defined anti-Semitic message of this conference
As concerned members of the Harvard Community, we hope that Harvard will take the appropriate actions we have outlined and unilaterally condemn the hatred, thinly disguised as academic inquiry, which this conference advocates.