Harvard Student Government to Hold Referendum on Israel Divestment

By Hamodia Staff

Radcliffe Quadrangle (The Quad) at Harvard University.

Harvard College’s student government will hold a student referendum as to whether the school should divest from institutions that support “Israel’s occupation of Palestine” and the war in Gaza.

The Harvard Crimson reports that a petition circulated this week by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee met the required threshold of 195 signatures just three hours after its launch. Now, the Harvard Undergraduate Association’s Election Commission must facilitate the referendum within three weeks. 

Harvard is not required to follow the referendum, but students believe the vote may influence the school.

Violet T.M. Barron an organizer with the Palestine Solidarity Committee and a Crimson Editorial editor, said, “Divestment campaigns in the past have worked. Harvard divested from South Africa, and I think the tobacco industry, and then most recently — like very recently — fossil fuel industry.”

Harvard had issued a statement in the past stating, “Harvard leadership has made clear that it opposes calls for a policy of boycotting Israel and its academic institutions.”

The two listed student organizers of the petition — Shraddha Joshi and Asmer A. Safi — told The Crimson that pro-Palestinian students were inspired to circulate the petition  after the Harvard Law School Student Government and Harvard Divinity School Student Association passed similar resolutions last week.

According to the Crimson, as of 2019 Harvard had invested in at least $200 million “towards illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine.”

Harvard, like many universities, has faced criticism from Jewish students, Republican Members of Congress, donors and others who say it has allowed anti-Israel sentiments and antisemitism to flourish on campuses on which Jewish students say they no longer feel safe.

Former Harvard president Claudine Gay resigned in January for her responses to questioning by a congressional committee about antisemitism on campus. 

The House Education Committee is investigating Harvard and many other schools over allegations of antisemitism.

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