Demonstrators supporting the Palestinian people gathered by the hundreds at Harvard University on Saturday and called for an end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza while pressing university leaders to condemn what organizers described as “genocide” and the “displacement of Palestinians.”
The rally in front of Widener Library was organized by the Palestine Solidarity Committee and Graduate Students For Palestine, two Harvard student groups that became engulfed in controversy last week when they released a statement that appeared to justify Hamas’s brutal sneak attack on Israel that killed more than 1,300 people, mainly civilians.
The Palestine Solidarity Committee has denied that it intended to defend the Hamas attack. In a joint statement with the Graduate Students for Palestine regarding Saturday’s rally, the groups said they reject “the notion that our investigation of the root cause of the ongoing genocide in Gaza is an endorsement of violence against innocent lives.”
“We reject the vilification of our students and the notion that when Palestinians speak up for their lives, they are inherently violent. We will not subscribe to the notion that Palestinian death is the status quo,” their statement said.
The rally was attended by more than 1,000 demonstrators, according to the organizers and the Harvard Crimson student newspaper.
Demonstrators called for the university to support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, where more than 2,200 people have been killed since Israeli forces began continuous airstrikes on the territory in response to the Hamas attack.
They also called for Harvard to disclose investments in companies “complicit in genocide and human rights abuses toward Palestinians” and for university president Claudine Gay to “explicitly name, condemn, and reject the anti-Palestinian racism, doxxing, and harassment Harvard students and alumni are facing.”
Last week, an out-of-state conservative organization drove trucks through Harvard Square that displayed photos and the names of students associated with the roughly 30 groups that co-signed the statement by the Palestine Solidarity Committee and Graduate Students for Palestine.
A Harvard spokesperson, Jason Newton, declined to comment on Saturday’s rally but referred to a message issued by Gay on Thursday in which she condemned “the barbaric atrocities committed by Hamas” and said the university “rejects the harassment or intimidation of individuals based on their beliefs.”