Harvard’s Arab Alumni Association has appealed for donations to help students’ mental health after they were subjected to ‘relentless bullying and intimidation’ for blaming Israel for the Hamas terror attacks. The Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee issued a letter on October 7, co-signed by 33 other Harvard student organizations, stating: ‘We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.’
The students leading the 33 organizations and the Solidarity Committee were named and faced calls to be blacklisted from future employment. They included the son (pictured left) of British businesswoman Jo Malone. On Wednesday, the Harvard Arab Alumni Association wrote to members appealing for help in supporting the students. ‘They may require legal counsel, healthcare, mental health support, financial aid or mentorship to navigate these turbulent and uncertain times. They have been subjected to relentless bullying and intimidation,’ the association wrote, in a letter obtained by reporter John Hasson.
A letter from more than 30 Harvard student groups was sent on the day of the attacks, which saw Hamas terrorists stage a dawn raid from Gaza on a music festival near the border and villages nearby. Women and children were murdered in their beds, and an estimated 200 people have been taken hostage. Since the raid, 1,300 Israelis have been killed. ‘Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum,’ the statement read. ‘For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison. Israeli officials promise to ‘open the gates of hell,’ and the massacres in Gaza have already commenced. ‘In the coming days, Palestinians will be forced to bear the full brunt of Israel’s violence. The apartheid regime is the only one to blame,’ it continues.
Claudine (picture), the president of Harvard, said days later the letter does not speak for the educational institution as a whole or its leadership. Her comments came after some criticized the Harvard administration for taking too long to denounce the student letter. On Friday, she issued another apology. Claudine said the university rejects terrorism, hate and harassment based on people’s beliefs while embracing free expression, even ‘views that many of us find objectionable, even outrageous.’ She wrote: ‘We do not punish or sanction people for expressing’ objectionable or outrageous views. But that is a far cry from endorsing them. It’s in the exercise of our freedom to speak that we reveal our characters and we reveal the character of our institution.’
Among those signing the letter was perfume tycoon Jo Malone’s son, who helps lead a pro-Palestinian Harvard group behind the letter. Josh Willcox, 22, is listed as one of three students who run the Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee, according to Harvard’s directory of student groups. His mother, Jo, a British perfume giant founder who sold her eponymous company to Estee Lauder in 1999, refused to address her son, simply saying the war in the Middle East had left her ‘heartbroken’ as she branded the attack by Hamas as ‘abhorrent.’
More than 1million people have fled their homes in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected Israeli invasion that seeks to eliminate Hamas’ leadership. Aid groups warn an Israeli ground offensive could hasten a humanitarian crisis. Israeli forces, supported by U.S. warships, have positioned themselves along Gaza’s border and drilled for what Israel said would be a broad campaign to dismantle the militant group.
A week of blistering airstrikes have demolished neighborhoods but failed to stop militant rocket fire into Israel. The war that began October 7 has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides, with more than 4,000 dead. The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,750 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded. Iran’s foreign minister has warned on Monday that ‘preemptive action is possible’ if Israel moves closer to its looming ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.
The comments by Hossein Amirabdollahian follow a pattern of escalating rhetoric from Iran, whose theocracy provides support to Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel cannot ‘do whatever it wants in Gaza and then go after other resistance groups after it´s done with Gaza,’ he told state television. ‘Therefore any preemptive action is possible in the coming hours.’ He did not elaborate on what form any action might take. ‘If the limited and extremely tight windows of opportunity available to the United Nations and political actors are not used over the coming hours, opening new fronts against the Zionist regime is inevitable,’ he said.
The U.N. humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, said the United Nations is in ‘deep discussions’ with the Israelis, Egyptians and others about getting aid through the Rafah crossing – ‘hugely helped’ by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who has been traveling in the region. Griffiths, who is heading to Cairo on Tuesday ‘to try to help in the negotiations,’ said in an interview with the U.N. on Monday that he was hoping for ‘some good news’ soon. Griffiths said the U.N.’s ‘overwhelming priority’ is to get access to Gaza, saying humanitarian rules of war are being violated. ‘You cannot ask people to move out of harm’s way without assisting them to do it,’ said Griffiths.
Israeli air strikes continue to lay waste to Gaza, hitting homes sheltering people seeking safer ground and wiping out 18 members of the same family. Three families who had fled Gaza City were in a house that was struck early Monday in the southern city of Rafah. The attack killed a dozen people and left nine buried in the rubble, according to surviving family members. A vast crater marked where the building had stood.
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