Harvard says its students’ pro-Palestinian letter does not speak for university

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WASHINGTON – A pro-Palestinian statement from Harvard University students that blamed Israel for violence engulfing the region does not speak for the educational institution as a whole or its leadership, Harvard University President Claudine Gay said on Tuesday.

“Let me also state …. that while our students have the right to speak for themselves, no student group — not even 30 student groups — speaks for Harvard University or its leadership,” Gay said in a statement.

Prominent Harvard University alumni on Monday denounced the pro-Palestinian statement in which a coalition of 34 Harvard student organizations said they “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence” following decades of occupation, adding that “the apartheid regime is the only one to blame.”

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas’ attack on Israel on Saturday left hundreds dead. It marked the worst breach of the country’s defenses since the Yom Kippur war 50 years ago. Israel’s embassy in Washington said the death toll from Hamas’ weekend attacks had surpassed 1,000.

Israel has battered Palestinians with deadly air strikes in Gaza after Hamas’ attack. Gaza’s Health Ministry said at least 830 Palestinians have been killed and up to 4,250 wounded in Israeli air strikes on the blockaded enclave since Saturday.

The enclave, only 25 miles (40 km) long by 6 miles (10 km) wide, is home to 2.3 million people who have been living under an Israeli-led blockade for 16 years, since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007.

The student organizations signing the pro-Palestinian letter included Muslim and Palestinian support groups plus others named for a variety of backgrounds including the Harvard Jews for Liberation and the African American Resistance Organization.

Gay and senior leadership including 15 deans have said they were “heartbroken by the death and destruction unleashed by the attack by Hamas that targeted citizens in Israel this weekend.”

Harvard is the most influential university in U.S. politics, having produced eight former presidents and four of the nine current Supreme Court Justices. REUTERS

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