Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Letter To The Editor: Antisemitism at Whitman

I am a Whitman alumnus. I have always admired Whitman for its liberal arts curriculum that purportedly taught students how to think.  I am greatly outraged at what I have read about what is occurring on the Whitman campus since the Oct. 7 Hamas massacres in Israel.

On the morning of Oct. 7, I woke up in Jerusalem and prepared to attend synagogue on our Sabbath and holiday when at around 8:20 am I heard loud sirens warning people to immediately go to a bomb shelter. We shortly discovered that Hamas terrorists launched rockets at Israel, which through October 22 amounted to over 7,400. We now know that 1,200 babies, children, elderly, women, and men were intentionally shot, stabbed, raped, slaughtered, butchered, mutilated, burned alive, disemboweled and beheaded by Hamas terrorists invading communities and the Nova music festival in southern Israel. Additionally, 242 individuals of many ages, sexes and nationalities were kidnapped by the terrorists. Have there been large demonstrations of Whitman students protesting these heinous acts, demanding freedom for the kidnapped victims and a cessation of rocket fire into Israel?  No. Quite the contrary.  

Instead, Whitman activists occupied Memorial Hall in late October demanding that Whitman President Sarah Bolton recognize the Palestinian genocide occurring in Gaza and opposing Israel’s occupation of Palestine. The irony that these activists occupy land of the indigenous Walla Walla, Cayuse and Umatilla Native American tribes is completely ignored.  Moreover, these activists caused further disruption by organizing a strike on Nov. 9 to make demands for Whitman to divest from “weapon suppliers to Israel, companies that are headquartered in Israel and companies that purchase from Israeli companies that need to be divested from urgently.” Even some faculty members supported these activists. Each of these activists should immediately discard their computers and cellphones as these items most likely have components either invented or made in Israel.  In the meanwhile, the rise of antisemitism has caused Whitman’s Jewish students and faculty to be alienated and fear for their safety

Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005. The only Jews in Gaza immediately after Oct. 7 were the hostages being held by Hamas.  The Palestinians had the opportunity to build a civil society in Gaza. Instead, it chose to build underground tunnels and pursue war against Israel. Israel must act in its own defense by eliminating Hamas and its terrorist infrastructure. Doing anything less will permit future heinous attacks. The fact that Hamas hides behind civilians in Gaza, conceals itself underground in tunnels under hospitals and launches rockets in or near schools is intentionally tragic but precisely calculated to inflame world opinion against Israel.  

As for committing “genocide,” Israel is doing nothing of the sort. Hamas started this war on Oct. 7. This is a war against Hamas, not genocide against Palestinians. Tragically, people die in war. Not all wars are conflagrations of genocide.  According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the population of the Gaza Strip has increased from 1,304,388 in 2005 to 2,226,544 in 2023. This population growth is not indicative of “genocide.” Throwing around terms like “genocide” is extremely irresponsible and demeans those who are actual victims of real genocides, such as the Rohingya, the Yazidis and Jews murdered in the Holocaust.    

Chanting “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free” denies the very existence of Israel, the only Jewish state on earth.  This is the unabashed goal of Hamas – the destruction of Israel. This is not a “two-state” solution with Jews and Arabs peacefully living side by side. If Oct. 7 is any indication, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and its allies advocate for the murder or expulsion of millions of Jewish Israelis. In fact, most of the progressive folk advocating for ISIS-style misogynistic hegemony would be the first to be “eliminated” – LGBTQ, feminists, socialists, Marxists, etc.  Arguing that Jews are “occupiers” and not indigenous to Israel is preposterous. Later this month, hundreds of millions of people will be celebrating the birth of a Jew born more than 2000 years ago in his native land – centuries before any Muslim Palestinian ever existed. 

There will be no free Palestine until Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Islamic extremists are neutralized, and Arabs in Gaza and elsewhere come to terms that Israel is not going to disappear or sign its own death warrant. Conflating support for the Hamas terrorists with Palestinian rights is a grave mistake. If Palestinians widely celebrate the beheading of Jewish babies by handing out candies on the West Bank or vocally support Hamas and terrorism, then there is no prospect for a negotiated resolution or two state solution.  

Finally, President Bolton’s statement of October 11, 2023 on the violence perpetrated by Hamas was sorely lacking. While referencing “horrific violence and heart-breaking loss of life taking place in Israel and Gaza” there was no mention of Hamas terrorists deliberately murdering Israelis, hostage taking or the continuing rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.  Subjective morality or demanding proportionality of a more balanced body count of dead Jews when Hamas seeks the annihilation of Israel and all Jews, is despicable. Those demanding a permanent ceasefire today without first eliminating Hamas and its capabilities should be reminded that there was a ceasefire on Oct. 6 that was broken in the most horrific pogrom since the Holocaust. 

Support for Hamas is support for terrorism, the destruction of Israel and the wanton slaughter of Jews. I, for one, cannot support an institution where its president lacks the moral clarity to distinguish between good and evil, and many of its students either support or excuse the massacre of Jews by a terrorist death cult.    

 Steven Amir Hemmat, class of 1984  

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  • A

    Anonymous StudentFeb 10, 2024 at 11:42 pm

    I also want people to understand how difficult it has been for me to exist on this campus as a Jewish student. I have been told that Israel has no right to exist (even as recently as last week), students denying our history (denial of expulsion from the Middle East, ignoring Sephardi and Mitzrahi identity, etc). I have seen students glorify Hamas, and state that they are fighting for peace, while simultaneously ignoring how Hamas builds tunnels in civilian areas, forces civilians back into buildings that the IDF has told people to evacuate, and failing to recognize that Hamas has repeatedly stated it desires to eliminate the entirety of the Jewish people. Like I have said countless times, there IS a way to advocate for Palestinian rights, condemn harmful language that Israeli officials have used, and demand that the IDF do even more to protect civilian life, without being antisemitic. There IS a way to do this without denying our history. There IS a way to this without saying we have no right to autonomy in our historic homeland. This is what I am trying to call out. I am tired of students engaging in this hateful rhetoric, and then having other students negate that this is my lived experience. I am tired of people saying that my pain is invalid because other people are going through worse. I am tired of having to advocate for myself and receiving little support from administration. What Whitman has to realize is that this goes beyond political disagreement. What is happening on campus is not disagreement about a conflict. This is about certain students stating that Jewish people do not have a right to autonomy and self determination in their ancestral homeland. This is about certain students legitimizing, and in some cases celebrating Hamas, an organization that has clearly stated that it has intentions to destroy the Jewish people, and that uses civilians as human shields. This is about certain people choosing to deny history. Advocating for Palestinians is an important cause. Ensuring that their is sufficient humanitarian aid is essential. Calling out Israeli officials when they act inappropriately is important. Pressuring the IDF to continue attempting to avoid as many civilian casualties as possible is essential. Nobody I know on any side of the conflict disagrees with this. The problem is that certain students are challenging Israel’s very right to exist, and feel comfortable apologizing for terror. They expect us to call out Israel’s mistakes (which must be done), but are fine with appologizing for Hamas’ horrific acts of violence, and questioning Israel’s very existence. Administration must step up and address this clearly and unappologeticaly. Student leaders must also step up to advocate for Palestinian rights, while not advancing antisemitic narratives. Like I said, this IS possible – it IS possible to advocate for Palestinians while not glorifying Hamas and while not suggesting that Israel should not exist. This can and must be done. I hope it is also clear to Whitman that there have not been enough spaces to process what is going on on campus. Frankly, the reason that I keep writing comments is because it feels like there is no safe and unbiased person to talk to about what is happening. This is quite literally one of the only spaces I have to process my feelings.

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  • A

    Anonymous StudentFeb 10, 2024 at 6:09 pm

    Israel has a responsibly to protect its civilians, and destroy Hamas (for the benefit of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples). In doing so, Israel must continue to do everything in its power to prevent civilian casualties. The violence we have witnessed has been extreme, and Israel must the more to protect civilian lives in Gaza. Government officials must also stop suggesting that settlements in Gaza are a solution to the conflict, and must also stop using racist language when referring to Palestinian peoples. Students on campus must stop doing things that insinuate that Israel does not have a right to exist, and legitimize Hamas’ actions, a group that wants to destroy Israel, and the Jewish people, uses civilians as human shields, and is not interested in working towards peace.

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    Anonymous StudentFeb 10, 2024 at 12:40 pm

    I wanted to write to clarify / issue a correction to my previous statement. I did not mean to imply that Israel is completely innosscent in the unfolding violence we see unfolding in Gaza. Criticizing the Israeli government is perfectly valid, particularly when government officials act inappropriately. I, along with the Union of Reformed Judaism, fiercely condemn racist and dehumanizing language that Israeli officials have utilized towards Palestinians, and oppose the idea of creating Israeli settlements in Gaza. Israel can, and must continue to avoid as many civilian casualties as possible, and assist in providing humanitarian aid immediately. We also strongly condemn Netanyahu’s resistance towards working for a two state solution. Peace cannot be obtained if there is the implementation of more Israeli settlements, racist rhetoric is being used, and Israeli officials are not open to a two state solution. The IDF must continue to do everything in its power to avoid civilian deaths. Israel’s goal is clearly to destroy Hamas, and it must do so in a way that protects civilian life. The ICJ has been very clear in stating that failure to do so could result in genocide charges against the Israel and that Israel has a responsibility to avoid actions that could potentially result in a genocide. That being said, students who are glorifying Hamas’ actions are also in the wrong. Posting an image of a paraglider on a post that reads “resistance is our right, and supporting violence by “any means necessary” means that you are supporting a group that calls for the extermination of Jewish people within its charter. Additionally, Hamas does not want peace for the Palestinian people. Rather, it is using them as human shields, and telling them to remain in buildings when the IDF warns that they are going to be bombed. Additionally, Hamas intentionally builds its tunnel network in civilian areas. Additionally, students on campus who believe that Israel does not have a right to exist are arguing that Jewish people do not have a right to self determination in their ancestral homeland (this is incredibly antisemitic). Additionally, stating that Israel entered this war willingly, and desired to commit violence is also not honest. Israel was forced into this war, a war it did not ask for, after Hamas’ attacks on October 7th. So, to be clear criticizing Israel is not antisemitic. In fact, it is necessary to call out when Israeli officials act inappropriately (as I have at the start of this post). At the same time, we must recognize that Hamas does not want peace. It does not care about keeping the civilians in Gaza safe. Rather, it desires to destroy the state of Israel, and Jewish people world wide. We all want a peaceful end to this war, but demonizing Israel, challenging Israel’s very right to exist, and blaming Israel for the entirety of the unfolding violence is antisemitism, and it must be stopped. Students on this campus must find a way to express their concerns about what is happening in Gaza without crossing the line into antisemitism. It can be done. There is a way to call out when Israeli officials act badly without demonizing Israel, glorifying Hamas, and insinuating that Israel should not exist.

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  • E

    Embarrassed AlumnJan 3, 2024 at 1:19 pm

    Bill Ackman (a Harvard alumn and hedge fund manager) recently led efforts post-10/7 to oust President Claudine Gay of Harvard for creating a climate that set the conditions for antisemitism – and noted that antisemitism was just the tip of the iceberg. That same culture is being promoted at Whitman – Exhibit 1 is the Power & Privilege Symposium. This week, now that President Gay has resigned, he went into a in-depth explication of this issue. It’s worth a full read. I do not think that the President of Whitman needs to resign – that’s not the point of this post, but I do want the President of Whitman to wake up to this cancer in academia that has set to light a bonfire that is consuming the liberal arts academy. More than 10% of Whitman students, and presumably a similar percentage of professors, have promoted antisemitism at Whitman since 10/7 (see the number of protest participants and professorial aiders/abettors noted in Whitman Wire articles). Whitman is also now also subject to a federal investigation based on complaints the culture on campus violates Title VI. These developments are a travesty. The below is Bill Ackman’s discussion regarding Harvard, but it’s just as applicable to present day Whitman.

    ++++++

    From Bill Ackman:

    In light of today’s news, I thought I would try to take a step back and provide perspective on what this is really all about.

    I first became concerned about Harvard when 34 Harvard student organizations, early on the morning of October 8th before Israel had taken any military actions in Gaza, came out publicly in support of Hamas, a globally recognized terrorist organization, holding Israel ‘solely responsible’ for Hamas’ barbaric and heinous acts.

    How could this be? I wondered.

    When I saw President Gay’s initial statement about the massacre, it provided more context (!) for the student groups’ statement of support for terrorism. The protests began as pro-Palestine and then became anti-Israel. Shortly, thereafter, antisemitism exploded on campus as protesters who violated Harvard’s own codes of conduct were emboldened by the lack of enforcement of Harvard’s rules, and kept testing the limits on how aggressive, intimidating, and disruptive they could be to Jewish and Israeli students, and the student body at large. Sadly, antisemitism remains a simmering source of hate even at our best universities among a subset of students.

    A few weeks later, I went up to campus to see things with my own eyes, and listen and learn from students and faculty. I met with 15 or so members of the faculty and a few hundred students in small and large settings, and a clearer picture began to emerge.

    I ultimately concluded that antisemitism was not the core of the problem, it was simply a troubling warning sign – it was the “canary in the coal mine” – despite how destructive it was in impacting student life and learning on campus.

    I came to learn that the root cause of antisemitism at Harvard was an ideology that had been promulgated on campus, an oppressor/oppressed framework, that provided the intellectual bulwark behind the protests, helping to generate anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hate speech and harassment.

    Then I did more research. The more I learned, the more concerned I became, and the more ignorant I realized I had been about DEI, a powerful movement that has not only pervaded Harvard, but the educational system at large. I came to understand that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was not what I had naively thought these words meant.

    I have always believed that diversity is an important feature of a successful organization, but by diversity I mean diversity in its broadest form: diversity of viewpoints, politics, ethnicity, race, age, religion, experience, socioeconomic background, sexual identity, gender, one’s upbringing, and more.

    What I learned, however, was that DEI was not about diversity in its purest form, but rather DEI was a political advocacy movement on behalf of certain groups that are deemed oppressed under DEI’s own methodology.

    Under DEI, one’s degree of oppression is determined based upon where one resides on a so-called intersectional pyramid of oppression where whites, Jews, and Asians are deemed oppressors, and a subset of people of color, LGBTQ people, and/or women are deemed to be oppressed. Under this ideology which is the philosophical underpinning of DEI as advanced by Ibram X. Kendi and others, one is either an anti-racist or a racist. There is no such thing as being “not racist.”

    Under DEI’s ideology, any policy, program, educational system, economic system, grading system, admission policy, (and even climate change due its disparate impact on geographies and the people that live there), etc. that leads to unequal outcomes among people of different skin colors is deemed racist.

    As a result, according to DEI, capitalism is racist, Advanced Placement exams are racist, IQ tests are racist, corporations are racist, or in other words, any merit-based program, system, or organization which has or generates outcomes for different races that are at variance with the proportion these different races represent in the population at large is by definition racist under DEI’s ideology.

    In order to be deemed anti-racist, one must personally take action to reverse any unequal outcomes in society. The DEI movement, which has permeated many universities, corporations, and state, local and federal governments, is designed to be the anti-racist engine to transform society from its currently structurally racist state to an anti-racist one.

    After the death of George Floyd, the already burgeoning DEI movement took off without any real challenge to its problematic ideology. Why, you might ask, was there so little pushback? The answer is that anyone who dared to raise a question which challenged DEI was deemed a racist, a label which could severely impact one’s employment, social status, reputation and more. Being called a racist got people cancelled, so those concerned about DEI and its societal and legal implications had no choice but to keep quiet in this new climate of fear.

    The techniques that DEI has used to squelch the opposition are found in the Red Scares and McCarthyism of decades past. If you challenge DEI, “justice” will be swift, and you may find yourself unemployed, shunned by colleagues, cancelled, and/or you will otherwise put your career and acceptance in society at risk.

    The DEI movement has also taken control of speech. Certain speech is no longer permitted. So-called “microaggressions” are treated like hate speech. “Trigger warnings” are required to protect students. “Safe spaces” are necessary to protect students from the trauma inflicted by words that are challenging to the students’ newly-acquired world views. Campus speakers and faculty with unapproved views are shouted down, shunned, and cancelled.

    These speech codes have led to self-censorship by students and faculty of views privately held, but no longer shared. There is no commitment to free expression at Harvard other than for DEI-approved views. This has led to the quashing of conservative and other viewpoints from the Harvard campus and faculty, and contributed to Harvard’s having the lowest free speech ranking of 248 universities assessed by the Foundation of Individual Rights and Expression.

    When one examines DEI and its ideological heritage, it does not take long to understand that the movement is inherently inconsistent with basic American values. Our country since its founding has been about creating and building a democracy with equality of opportunity for all. Millions of people have left behind socialism and communism to come to America to start again, as they have seen the destruction leveled by an equality of outcome society.

    The E for “equity” in DEI is about equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity.

    DEI is racist because reverse racism is racism, even if it is against white people (and it is remarkable that I even need to point this out). Racism against white people has become considered acceptable by many not to be racism, or alternatively, it is deemed acceptable racism. While this is, of course, absurd, it has become the prevailing view in many universities around the country.

    You can say things about white people today in universities, in business or otherwise, that if you switched the word ‘white’ to ‘black,’ the consequences to you would be costly and severe.

    To state what should otherwise be self-evident, whether or not a statement is racist should not depend upon whether the target of the racism is a group who currently represents a majority or minority of the country or those who have a lighter or darker skin color. Racism against whites is as reprehensible as it is against groups with darker skin colors.

    Martin Luther King’s most famous words are instructive:

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

    But here we are in 2024, being asked and in some cases required to use skin color to effect outcomes in admissions (recently deemed illegal by the Supreme Court), in business (likely illegal yet it happens nonetheless) and in government (also I believe in most cases to be illegal, except apparently in government contracting), rather than the content of one’s character. As such, a meritocracy is an anathema to the DEI movement. DEI is inherently a racist and illegal movement in its implementation even if it purports to work on behalf of the so-called oppressed.

    And DEI’s definition of oppressed is fundamentally flawed.

    I have always believed that the most fortunate should help the least fortunate, and that our system should be designed in such a way as to maximize the size of the overall pie so that it will enable us to provide an economic system which can offer quality of life, education, housing, and healthcare for all.

    America is a rich country and we have made massive progress over the decades toward achieving this goal, but we obviously have much more work to do. Steps taken on the path to socialism – another word for an equality of outcome system – will reverse this progress and ultimately impoverish us all. We have seen this movie many times.

    Having a darker skin color, a less common sexual identity, and/or being a woman doesn’t make one necessarily oppressed or even disadvantaged. While slavery remains a permanent stain on our country’s history – a fact which is used by DEI to label white people as oppressors – it doesn’t therefore hold that all white people generations after the abolishment of slavery should be held responsible for its evils. Similarly, the fact that Columbus discovered America doesn’t make all modern-day Italians colonialists.

    An ideology that portrays a bicameral world of oppressors and the oppressed based principally on race or sexual identity is a fundamentally racist ideology that will likely lead to more racism rather than less. A system where one obtains advantages by virtue of one’s skin color is a racist system, and one that will generate resentment and anger among the un-advantaged who will direct their anger at the favored groups.

    The country has seen burgeoning resentment and anger grow materially over the last few years, and the DEI movement is an important contributor to our growing divisiveness. Resentment is one of the most important drivers of racism. And it is the lack of equity, i.e, fairness, in how DEI operates, that contributes to this resentment.

    I was accused of being a racist from the President of the NAACP among others when I posted on @X
    that I had learned that the Harvard President search process excluded candidates that did not meet the DEI criteria. I didn’t say that former President Gay was hired because she was a black woman. I simply said that I had heard that the search process by its design excluded a large percentage of potential candidates due to the DEI limitations. My statement was not a racist one. It was simply the empirical truth about the Harvard search process that led to Gay’s hiring.

    When former President Gay was hired, I knew little about her, but I was instinctually happy for Harvard and the black community. Every minority community likes to see their representatives recognized in important leadership positions, and it is therefore an important moment for celebration. I too celebrated this achievement. I am inspired and moved by others’ success, and I thought of Gay’s hiring at the pinnacle leadership position at perhaps our most important and iconic university as an important and significant milestone for the black community.

    I have spent the majority of my life advocating on behalf of and supporting members of disadvantaged communities including by investing several hundreds of millions of dollars of philanthropic assets to help communities in need with economic development, sensible criminal justice reform, poverty reduction, healthcare, education, workforce housing, charter schools, and more.

    I have done the same at Pershing Square Capital Management when, for example, we completed one of the largest IPOs ever with the substantive assistance of a number of minority-owned, women-owned, and Veteran-owned investment banks. Prior to the Pershing Square Tontine, Ltd. IPO, it was standard practice for big corporations occasionally to name a few minority-owned banks in their equity and bond offerings, have these banks do no work and sell only a de minimis amount of stock or bonds, and allocate to them only 1% or less of the underwriting fees so that the issuers could virtue signal that they were helping minority communities.

    In our IPO, we invited the smaller banks into the deal from the beginning of the process so they could add real value. As a result, the Tontine IPO was one of the largest and most successful IPOs in history with $12 billion of demand for a $4 billion deal by the second day of the IPO, when we closed the books. The small banks earned their 20% share of the fees for delivering real and substantive value and for selling their share of the stock.

    Compare this approach to the traditional one where the small banks do effectively nothing to earn their fees – they aren’t given that opportunity – yet, they get a cut of the deal, albeit a tiny one. The traditional approach does not create value for anyone. It only creates resentment, and an uncomfortable feeling from the small banks who get a tiny piece of the deal in a particularly bad form of affirmative action.

    While I don’t think our approach to working with the smaller banks has yet achieved the significant traction it deserves, it will hopefully happen eventually as the smaller banks build their competencies and continue to earn their fees, and other issuers see the merit of this approach. We are going to need assistance with a large IPO soon so we are looking forward to working with our favored smaller banks.

    I have always believed in giving disadvantaged groups a helping hand. I signed the Giving Pledge for this reason. My life plan by the time I was 18 was to be successful and then return the favor to those less fortunate. This always seemed to the right thing to do, in particular, for someone as fortunate as I am.

    All of the above said, it is one thing to give disadvantaged people the opportunities and resources so that they can help themselves. It is another to select a candidate for admission or for a leadership role when they are not qualified to serve in that role.

    This appears to have been the case with former President Gay’s selection. She did not possess the leadership skills to serve as Harvard’s president, putting aside any questions about her academic credentials. This became apparent shortly after October 7th, but there were many signs before then when she was Dean of the faculty.

    The result was a disaster for Harvard and for Claudine Gay.

    The Harvard board should not have run a search process which had a predetermined objective of only hiring a DEI-approved candidate. In any case, there are many incredibly talented black men and women who could have been selected by Harvard to serve as its president so why did the Harvard Corporation board choose Gay?

    One can only speculate without knowing all of the facts, but it appears Gay’s leadership in the creation of Harvard’s Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging and the penetration of the DEI ideology into the Corporation board room perhaps made Gay the favored candidate. The search was also done at a time when many other top universities had similar DEI-favored candidate searches underway for their presidents, reducing the number of potential candidates available in light of the increased competition for talent.

    Unrelated to the DEI issue, as a side note, I would suggest that universities should broaden their searches to include capable business people for the role of president, as a university president requires more business skills than can be gleaned from even the most successful academic career with its hundreds of peer reviewed papers and many books. Universities have a Dean of the Faculty and a bureaucracy to oversee the faculty and academic environment of the university. It therefore does not make sense that the university president has to come through the ranks of academia, with a skill set unprepared for university management.

    The president’s job – managing thousands of employees, overseeing a $50 billion endowment, raising money, managing expenses, capital allocation, real estate acquisition, disposition, and construction, and reputation management – are responsibilities that few career academics are capable of executing. Broadening the recruitment of candidates to include top business executives would also create more opportunities for diverse talent for the office of the university president.

    Furthermore, Harvard is a massive business that has been mismanaged for a long time. The cost structure of the University is out of control due in large part to the fact that the administration has grown without bounds. Revenues are below what they should be because the endowment has generated a 4.5% annualized return for the last decade in one of the greatest bull markets in history, and that low return is not due to the endowment taking lower risks as the substantial majority of its assets are invested in illiquid and other high-risk assets.

    The price of the product, a Harvard education, has risen at a rate well in excess of inflation for decades, (I believe it has grown about 7-8% per annum) and it is now about $320,000 for four years of a liberal arts education at Harvard College. As a result, the only students who can now afford Harvard come from rich families and poor ones. The middle class can’t get enough financial aid other than by borrowing a lot of money, and it is hard to make the economics work in life after college when you graduate with large loan balances, particularly if you also attend graduate school.

    The best companies in the world grow at high rates over many decades. Harvard has grown at a de minimis rate. Since I graduated 35 years ago, the number of students in the Harvard class has grown by less than 20%. What other successful business do you know that has grown the number of customers it serves by less than 20% in 35 years, and where nearly all revenue growth has come from raising prices?

    In summary, there is a lot more work to be done to fix Harvard than just replacing its president. That said, the selection of Harvard’s next president is a critically important task, and the individuals principally responsible for that decision do not have a good track record for doing so based on their recent history, nor have they done a good job managing the other problems which I have identified above.

    The Corporation board led by Penny Pritzker selected the wrong president and did inadequate due diligence about her academic record despite Gay being in leadership roles at the University since 2015 when she became dean of the Social Studies department.

    The Board failed to create a discrimination-free environment on campus exposing the University to tremendous reputational damage, to large legal and financial liabilities, Congressional investigations and scrutiny, and to the potential loss of Federal funding, all while damaging the learning environment for all students.

    And when concerns were raised about plagiarism in Gay’s research, the Board said these claims were “demonstrably false” and it threatened the NY Post with “immense” liability if it published a story raising these issues.

    It was only after getting the story cancelled that the Board secretly launched a cursory, short-form investigation outside of the proper process for evaluating a member of the faculty’s potential plagiarism. When the Board finally publicly acknowledged some of Gay’s plagiarism, it characterized the plagiarism as “unintentional” and invented new euphemisms, i.e., “duplicative language” to describe plagiarism, a belittling of academic integrity that has caused grave damage to Harvard’s academic standards and credibility.

    The Board’s three-person panel of “political scientist experts” that to this day remain unnamed who evaluated Gay’s work failed to identify many examples of her plagiarism, leading to even greater reputational damage to the University and its reputation for academic integrity as the whistleblower and the media continued to identify additional problems with Gay’s work in the days and weeks thereafter.

    According to the NY Post, the Board also apparently sought to identify the whistleblower and seek retribution against him or her in contravention to the University’s whistleblower protection policies.

    Despite all of the above, the Board “unanimously” gave its full support for Gay during this nearly four-month crisis, until eventually being forced to accept her resignation earlier today, a grave and continuing reputational disaster to Harvard and to the Board.

    In a normal corporate context with the above set of facts, the full board would resign immediately to be replaced by a group nominated by shareholders. In the case of Harvard, however, the Board nominates itself and its new members. There is no shareholder vote mechanism to replace them.

    So what should happen?

    The Corporation Board should not remain in their seats protected by the unusual governance structure which enabled them to obtain their seats.

    The Board Chair, Penny Pritzker, should resign along with the other members of the board who led the campaign to keep Claudine Gay, orchestrated the strategy to threaten the media, bypassed the process for evaluating plagiarism, and otherwise greatly contributed to the damage that has been done. Then new Corporation board members should be identified who bring true diversity, viewpoint and otherwise, to the board.

    The Board should not be principally comprised of individuals who share the same politics and views about DEI. The new board members should be chosen in a transparent process with the assistance of the 30-person Board of Overseers. There is no reason the Harvard board of 12 independent trustees cannot be comprised of the most impressive, high integrity, intellectually and politically diverse members of our country and globe. We have plenty of remarkable people to choose from, and the job of being a director just got much more interesting and important. It is no longer, nor should it ever have been, an honorary and highly political sinecure.

    The ODEIB should be shut down, and the staff should be terminated. The ODEIB has already taken down much of the ideology and strategies that were on its website when I and others raised concerns about how the office operates and who it does and does not represent. Taking down portions of the website does not address the fundamentally flawed and racist ideology of this office, and calls into further question the ODEIB’s legitimacy.

    Why would the ODEIB take down portions of its website when an alum questioned its legitimacy unless the office was doing something fundamentally wrong or indefensible?

    Harvard must once again become a meritocratic institution which does not discriminate for or against faculty or students based on their skin color, and where diversity is understood in its broadest form so that students can learn in an environment which welcomes diverse viewpoints from faculty and students from truly diverse backgrounds and experiences.

    Harvard must create an academic environment with real academic freedom and free speech, where self-censoring, speech codes, and cancel culture are forever banished from campus.

    Harvard should become an environment where all students of all persuasions feel comfortable expressing their views and being themselves. In the business world, we call this creating a great corporate culture, which begins with new leadership and the right tone at the top. It does not require the creation of a massive administrative bureaucracy.

    These are the minimum changes necessary to begin to repair the damage that has been done.

    A number of faculty at the University of Pennsylvania have proposed a new constitution which can be found at [pennforward website removed], which has been signed by more than 1,200 faculty from Penn, Harvard, and other universities. Harvard would do well to adopt Penn’s proposed new constitution or a similar one before seeking to hire its next president.

    A condition of employment of the new Harvard president should be the requirement that the new president agrees to strictly abide by the new constitution. He or she should take an oath to that effect.

    Today was an important step forward for the University. It is time we restore Veritas to Harvard and again be an exemplar that graduates well-informed, highly-educated leaders of exemplary moral standing and good judgment who can help bring our country together, advance our democracy, and identify the important new discoveries that will help save us from ourselves.

    We have a lot more work to do. Let’s get at it.

    Reply
    • W

      Whitman StudentJan 19, 2024 at 3:20 am

      DEI: the ideology that everything is racist except actual racism, which is just fine!

      Reply
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    Anonymous StudentDec 16, 2023 at 12:25 am

    I also think it is important to mention that we as a campus community need to do a better job holding space for each other’s grief. We must find ways to grieve innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives lost without involving politics. We must simultaneously be heartbroken by the innocent Israeli lives lost on October 7th AND innocent Palestinian lives that have been lost in Gaza. We as a community must learn to hold both at the same time. We are all heartbroken right now, and we all need to support one another, regardless of which side of this issue we fall on. At the end of the day, justice work is fundametnally rooted in love. We must work on loving each other, even in moments where we strongly disagree.

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  • A

    Anonymous StudentDec 15, 2023 at 11:03 pm

    As a current student on campus who has been incredibly concerned with ongoing campus rhetoric, I appreciate you writing this letter. So many problematic things have been said, and I appreciate you shedding a light on some of them. For one, I am deeply upset by many of the images/slogans that have used. There was asocial media post shared, which was published within less than a week of the October 7th attack, that included the use of a paraglider. When asked about this during their teach-in, members of the group that shared the post said that the use of the paraglider was intentional. Furthermore statements such as “from the river to the sea” and stating that Israel only occupies stolen land fails to acknowledge that Jews have existed in the land of Israel since antiquity. Furthermore statements such as “zionism is racism” fail to recognize that Israel is a diverse nation and also fails to recognize the existence of Sephardi, Mitzrahi, and other Israelis of color. Situating all Israelis with whiteness is not accurate. Additionally, this fails to recognize that there are non-Jewish Arabs in every level of Israeli society. They serve as politicians, educators, lawyers, etc. All of this is not to say Israel is a perfect country, it like every country has made mistakes. Advocating for fairer treatment of Palestinian peoples, trying to find a two-state solution, and calling for Israel to avoid as many civilian casualties as possible in Gaza is important. However, calling out mistakes the Israeli government has made is very different from saying Israel should not exist “from the river to the sea”. There needs to be a line drawn between criticizing the Israeli government and challenging Israel’s right to exist. Furthermore, Hamas’ acts on October 7th must be fully condemned. Actions such as sharing an image of a paraglider immediately after the October 7th attack should not be acceptable.

    Additionally, I have noticed that people on our campus have tried to make the ongoing conflict into a completely political issue. There is a way to center everyone’s pain without jumping to political argumentation. People on all sides of this issue should be able to say “I see you” and treat each other with respect. This has become such a large issue that it feels as though by simply stating “I support Israel’s right to exist” or “I wish people would do a better job of calling out what happened on October 7th”, you are immediately shut down. There has been this false assumption made by certain individuals that those of us who support Israel’s right to exist and defend itself do not support Palestinians. My heart is broken into a million pieces every time I see images of the devastation in Gaza. It is possible to hold multiple truths at the same time. People can believe Israel has a right to exist, be heartbroken by what happened on October 7th, and simultaneously feel a deep sense of pain for innocent Palestinian lives lost.

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    EdwardDec 13, 2023 at 8:02 pm

    In the last few days, we have seen video of Hamas using children as human shields and firing missiles from the middle of refugee areas. Of course, that doesn’t matter to antiSemite Whitman students. Please join this alum in stopping donations to Whitman.

    Reply
    • S

      StudentDec 15, 2023 at 12:33 am

      So many people my age don’t know that if we’re at war and I deliberately hide my troops and weapons under a hospital and you reluctantly bomb it, I’m the one guilty of a war crime, not you.

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  • R

    Real AntifascistDec 12, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Just another point I’d like to make: does anyone want to talk about the fact that the SJP started their occupation of Memorial on the anniversary of Kristallnacht? If the Whitman SJP and the broader SJP as a whole aren’t Nazis then why did they literally start their occupation of Memorial on the anniversary of the literal prelude to Adolf Hitler’s final solution? I get that Whitman students think they have critical thinking skills but I’d like to challenge that notion. If the SJP of Whitman, aren’t Antisemitic Neo-Nazis, then why did you start your occupation of Memorial on the anniversary of Kristallnacht? Doesn’t that seem sickeningly morally wrong?

    Now, another point: I see idiots commenting thinks like “the intifada is global” in this comments section. Are you deranged? The resistance is global? It’s hilarious that people are saying “intifada is just resistance in Arabic.” Have you considered this really cool thing called context? The intifadas in 1987 and 2000 led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians on both sides because terrorists decided to attack Israel. The first intifada luckily ended in peace agreements between Israel and the West Bank’s PLO because the PLO agreed to stop fighting but the government of Gaza (that which became Hamas) refused peace accords (the Oslo accords) and decided to have a second intifada in 2000. Intifada is a call for violence against the state of Israel and against Jews globally when you say idiotic slogans like “globalize the intifada.” If you can’t see this then you lack critical thinking capacities.

    I see people talking about how the teach-ins have fostered open and thoughtful dialogue and that is objectively untrue. I’ve watched the recordings and was sickened by how certain professors denied or justified the war crimes committed by Hamas (such as raping civilians) and how certain students claimed that the Israeli and Zionist side of the conflict has to “talk in a certain way” and “ignore the rape and murder of civilians since it was a history of violence building to this.” I’m sorry but raping civilians is a reprehensible and repugnant war crime and the context doesn’t matter when that sort of act happens. If you can’t see this then you are objectively insane. Even if Israel was a supposed “apartheid state” or “white colonial project,” that doesn’t justify the rape or murder of civilians. It never does.

    Let’s address the childish notion I’ve heard around campus that Israel is “Anti-black.” Do you people know anything about Israel? The Beta-Israelis (black, ethnic-Jews from Ethiopia) were being slaughtered and under the threat of genocide from Islamic rebels and the Communist Party of Ethiopia and the nation of Israel, starting in, 1984, sent airplanes to Ethiopia to get the Beta-Israel population to safety within the Israeli border. Israel spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure that the Beta-Israeli population would be safe from persecution and genocide. How is that Anti-blackness? The Beta-Israel do face discrimination to a small degree but nothing compared to what Afro-Palestinians face in Gaza. In Gaza, Afro-Palestinians are called abeed (Arabic for slave) and live in a city that is literally called Al-Abeed. How is this not true Anti-blackness?
    On this vein of logic, what about the claim that Israel hates brown people? Are the Mizrahim or Arab Jews not brown? These are Jews that either immigrated to Israel or were saved by Israel because every nation in the Middle East was either attempting to expel them or massacre them for being Jews. Tell me, is that acceptable? Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc. used to have thriving Jewish populations but either attempted to massacre them or deport them. How is this not sickening and wrong? Iran is the only other nation other than Israel with a Jewish population in the Middle-East and this is only likely because the Iranian people don’t like the sickening views of their fascist government and remember when the great Persian Empire and the Judean-Israeli Empire were close friends and allies.

    Here’s a really spooky thing that most people don’t want to talk about: anyone remember the time when the Islamic-Palestinian government under the British Mandate of Palestine corroborated with the Nazis and Hitler? They sided with Hitler and said that if he freed them from British rule, then they’d help him exterminate Jews. Just something to think about when you argue that the Arab Palestinian population didn’t hold Antisemitic views until after Israel’s conception and “occupation.” Not all Palestinians are sickening Antisemites. There are many good ones with good hearts but there are also those who are evil, just like in every population. To intentionally ignore this is idiotic.

    Another question: all of you idiots touting “from the river to the sea,” do you even know which river and what sea? It means from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea… That is the ENTIRE LANDMASS of Israel… So this means that you people believe Jews deserve no part of their ancestral and ethnic homeland? What will happen when you get a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea?” Oh yes, every Jew will be killed or deported and end up as refugees. You are calling for a second holocaust and are an idiot if you think otherwise.

    If you oppose the existence of Israel, please consider these questions.

    Reply
    • T

      Tired StudentDec 13, 2023 at 10:20 pm

      NOTE: The system won’t let me submit a comment with any links or URLs in it, so if you want to find the sources I’m talking about, I’ve just replaced the URL with search terms that should pull it up.

      I don’t have the time to more thoroughly respond to your comment, but I want to quickly address a few things.
      1. Today is the anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre. You must have chosen this date to write your comment in order to be explicitly Sinophobic, yes? Or can you maybe recognize that, sometimes events just happen on the same day. I was in Memorial for those days–there were Jewish students there who are against the violence being committed by Israel. There are Holocaust survivors who are speaking out against Israel’s war crimes [search “genocide begins with the silence of the world] this was in 2014, you can read more about this group and their current efforts here: [google IJAN]
      2. This article will explain “From the River to the Sea” better than I can. I encourage you, and anyone else to please red it: [search Jewish currents river to sea] The fight in Palestine is one of many fights against colonialism around the world, including the fight happening in the United States. But land back efforts do not and will not call for the extermination of any people. More information can be found here: [search NDN Palestine landback]
      3. Here are some more resources for you are anyone else. [amnesty Israel apartheid]
      [isrealism documentary]

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      • R

        Real AntifascistDec 14, 2023 at 8:51 pm

        You do realize that the Whitman SJP takes orders from a national SJP organization, right? They explicitly chose that date, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, for Antisemitic purposes. Anyone who has a brain could recognize that. You bring up Sinophobia yet that has no relation to this. I brought up Antisemitism since the Holocaust and Antisemitism as a whole has great relevance to the question of Israel and Zionism. The Nanjing massacre does not. Use your brain before drawing false equivalences.
        As for Jews who are “Anti-Zionist,” there were Jews who supported Hitler and who gave other Jews to the Nazis. Jews supporting Palestine are akin to them.
        All the Holocaust survivors you mention (the ones who are still alive that is) have changed their tunes.
        If you sincerely believe that the Palestinian “landback” movement is one that doesn’t support the extermination of anyone then read the Hamas charter which explicitly says to kill every Jew.
        You clearly are uneducated on this topic and history.
        “From the river to the sea” is a call for the extermination of Israel and nothing else. If you think Israel is akin to apartheid then you’re insane. The SJP chose a paraglider (the tool by which psychotic Hamas terrorists attacked the music festival and raped and murdered thousands) as the imagery for their protest against Israel and the P&P folks are using bastardized imagery from Maus (a book literally about the holocaust) to spread their sickening messages. If you think these organizations aren’t Antisemitic then you have a few screws loose.

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  • R

    Real AntifascistDec 7, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    Can the idiot Nazi students commenting about how the author is wrong just admit that they’re all Antisemites? You hate Jews and the singular Jewish state. Free Palestine from the terror of Hamas. There can be no two-state solution until Hamas is eradicated. Palestinians deserve peace and Israel is the only state in the world that cares about them. Chanting “from the river to the sea” is a chant for genocide of Jews in their native homeland. If you don’t agree, you’re a Nazi.

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    • S

      StudentDec 12, 2023 at 5:49 pm

      I wouldn’t go around all willy nilly calling people Nazis. That is a very specific, highly charged word.

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      • S

        StudentDec 14, 2023 at 3:54 am

        I applaud the writer of this article. I hope more alumni wake up to the sickening reality of what Whitman has become and pressure administration to change. I want to tell you all it’s even worse than you think.

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      • R

        Real AntifascistDec 14, 2023 at 8:52 pm

        That’s why I used it. They are Nazis. The charge of the word was purposeful, just like the idiotic and careless usage of language like “genocide” and “apartheid” by the Whitman’s SJP and the usage of paragliders in the imagery of their disgusting propaganda.

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    Embarrassed AlumnDec 7, 2023 at 8:47 pm

    Steven,

    I think your letter to the editor is spot on, and I have deep respect for your bravery. As you can see, you’ve hit a nerve and your letter has triggered a number of defensive, and morally/ethically and intellectually confused/sophomoric responses.

    I agree that the Whitman administration needs to do a lot more than token lip service. I do not know your thoughts, but I am on the same page with Greg Lukianoff (founder of FIRE) that the solution to this is MORE free speech. I am glad that the commenters are speaking out, and I’m glad that the protesters are protesting and the professors are showing their true colors- they are showing the world their beliefs (and have little self awareness of how evil their world view is). This is a direct result of living in an echo chamber where one side of the debate (centrist and conservative voices) are aggressively silenced by an administration and faculty captured by leftists, and bolstered by leftist-dogma re-education efforts (the Whitman Power and Privilege Symposium, Whitman speech codes, anti-harassment policies, the “teach-in” referred to in one of the comments… you should see the slides for that one on Whitman_sjp on Instagram, pure propaganda…, etc.). They never hear opposing viewpoints, and as a result, they do not know how to respond to a fact filled and well substantiated argument like your letter. If you were doing this in person, their likely response would be to shout you down (or accuse you of “violence”) because they would not have a cogent argument. It seems that’s why you so quickly drew five such comments in a paper that normally barely gets a comment on 1 in 5 articles, and it’s why their retorts are so easily swept aside as parroted talking points (without substance or any underlying knowledge). The solution: Whitman needs to do away with its toxic DEI initiatives (that only serve to shut down free speech in favor of a leftist-based, neo-marxist narrative draped in the guise of feeling good and being “inclusive”, but which is just the opposite) and take a true approach to freedom of expression. This may require turning over some faculty to make sure there are professionals at Whitman that do not use their privileged position to indoctrinate impressionable young adults, and it may require Whitman to seek to cut off well-funded sources of outside influence of hate (Whitman Students for Justice in Palestine is an affiliate of a larger national organization that is well-funded by those seeking to spread hate and divide our society – the Anti-Defamation League has a great write up on them, their tactics, and their aims. They are truly a cancerous organization spreading hate – openly, and a number of universities have begun banning them from campus.), and it may require Whitman to shut down its cultural indoctrination efforts. Hopefully, these kinds of efforts will restore balance where these thinly-backed ideas can be openly discussed in a community where other competing ideas can also be discussed. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

    I have hope that Whitman can do the right thing, and I know there is a possible path. One of my children goes to a T20 national liberal arts school that has such a balance – a full-range of opinions expressed (from left to right), and the students get along, focus on their studies, and truly learn from each other in a supportive and collaborative environment. These schools (while hard to find) do still exist, and I am exceedingly pleased that he is receiving the kind of education I remember used to exist at Whitman – a culture where you were exposed to ideas that showed there were multiple ways to look at situations and try to see things for how they truly are from different points of view and perspectives. These are skills I use today as a tech company executive, and they help me bridge gaps and communicate clearly from a place of empathy and compassion. Sadly, that light appears to have faded from Whitman, but I hope the Alumni get wind of this and exert pressure to restore the true essence of a liberal arts education at our alma mater.

    Thank you again. Your letter is a great step in that direction.

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    • R

      Recent AlumDec 12, 2023 at 12:01 pm

      It’s also important to note that OTHER LEFTISTS are also being silenced. As someone who considered themself fairly left and is pro socialist policy I am willing and ready to condemn the actions of Isreal since the attack, I dont think war crimes are ever justified, AND I am willing to condemn Hamas and say that October 7th was a tragedy of the highest order. But people on campus right now won’t hear that, they think the condemnation of Hamas equates to defense of Isreal which it doesn’t. There’s quite a bit of evidence to say Isreal has been soft supporting Hamas for years to justify invasion and war. Hamas and the Israeli government are BOTH detrimental actors to the people of Isreal and Palestine and BOTH have committed war crimes.

      Even that opinion is not being heard on campus. It’s not accepted. And stating it is met with strong backlash. EVEN leftists on campus are incredibly critical of the colleges DEI policy as it does genuinely shut down true leftist engagement as much as it does shut down conservative dialogue. It’s not because all DEI efforts are bad, but because Whitman’s DEI efforts are inadequate, lazy, cliche, and bad.

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    • L

      Liberal StudentDec 15, 2023 at 12:17 am

      And the other massive way these leftist professors fail their students by not providing them any dissenting views is they leave them totally unable to defend their worldview. Teaching students that the \”other side\” isn\’t just misinformed but is plain evil (\”They support genocide!!!!\”) is just asking for a backlash once they encounter dissenting views. How many graduating politics majors could actually hold their ground in a debate with a well-informed liberal capitalist, let alone an unapologetic conservative? Have they ever heard the case for reform rather than revolution? An explanation of economic efficiency, comparative advantage, benefits from trade? Or the abysmal human rights records of communist countries? Or the fact that slavery, genocide, and oppression are omnipresent in history and long pre-date european colonialism? Why are Ben Shapiro and other right-wing charlatans aimed at young people so popular? Could it be because college students are taught to absorb propaganda rather than to think critically? If you ask me, Whitman should fund and encourage conservative, centrist, and libertarian speakers to come to campus periodically. Encourage leftist students and faculty to debate with them, but aggressively sanction those who try to prevent them from speaking at all.

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  • M

    MichelleDec 7, 2023 at 7:09 pm

    As a parent of a Whitman student, I completely agree with you. Whitman has always had the reputation of a strong academic institution that teaches its students to think critically and to become good citizens of the world. I was completely underwhelmed by the Whitman Administration’s response to what happened on October 7 (it is never okay to kill innocent babies, children, and other people or to rape women) and their subsequent lack of any response to the pro-Palestinian protestors on campus who were harassing other students. I fear that the Whitman’s academic and administrative community has been subsumed by the same political correctness and preferred speech that has swept through our country and across college campuses and now prevents educated adults from taking a stand against what was an unprovoked attack on innocent people. And I ask all of you pro-Palestinian protestors, why do you think that none of the other Arab countries, including the bordering countries of Egypt and Jordan, have offered to take Palestinian refugees? My guess is that you don’t know the answer because you have no historical knowledge to support your positions. Knowing some of the history may shed some light on the historical context of this devastating humanitarian crisis that was created and orchestrated by Hamas.

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    • H

      History studentDec 8, 2023 at 9:00 am

      You obviously don’t have a historical understanding of the Palestinian cause, and criticizing college students for exercising free speech and academic freedom is not a good look. Do you know how many innocent Gazans have been murdered in the last two months, or do you just care about those who’ve humanity you have deemed worthy? Victim blaming is also a bad look, and I hope you can do some self-reflection.

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      • D

        DomanticusDec 8, 2023 at 8:56 pm

        How should have Israel responded after roughly 1400 of their citizens were murdered by Hamas?

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        • E

          EstudianteDec 9, 2023 at 7:08 pm

          Not by killing 15,000 civilians, mostly children who have nothing to do with Hamas.

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          • S

            StudentDec 14, 2023 at 4:00 am

            How many German children did US bombers kill in the course of defeating Hitler? Was that morally bad?
            Would it have been better if we let the Germans bomb New York and kill American children? Just To be fair, right? We don’t want to seem “disproportionate!”

            You have zero knowledge of history or the cold realities of war, your just being emotionally manipulated by propagandists.

      • M

        MichelleDec 11, 2023 at 11:41 am

        I do have a historical understanding of the situation, all the way back to antiquity, when the land was occupied primarily by several Israelite and Jewish kingdoms. The land was conquered by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, and was finally ruled by the British. In 1948, after the Holocaust, the State of Israel was created and the Palestinian occupied lands were ruled by Jordan and Egypt. Only a short time later, the new State of Israel was invaded by the Arabs. This was the first of many Arab-Israeli wars. Hamas is the entity most responsible for preventing peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Hamas siphons off humanitarian aid and spends billions of dollars building tunnels and buying weapons. They are using their own women and children as shields after invading and brutally raping, torturing, and killing hundreds of Israelis including the son of a friend of mine. So what is Israel supposed to do after being invaded in such a brutal way? What would the United States do? What would Russia do? It’s not victim blaming, it’s history repeating itself, and until Hamas is gone, there is not going to be peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. You should be blaming Hamas and not Israel.

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        • E

          ElizabethDec 21, 2023 at 7:24 pm

          I am very sorry for the loss of your friend’s son. May his memory be for a blessing.

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      • R

        Recent GradDec 11, 2023 at 3:07 pm

        If Hamas had the firepower of Israel there wouldn’t be 15k dead Jews, there’d be 150k+ dead Jews with more on the way.

        If you want less dead Palestinians, then demand that Hamas respect ceasefires instead of breaking them and having their Western leftist propagandees blame Israel.

        I encourage you to reflect on the narratives that Whitman is feeding you.

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    • S

      StudentDec 8, 2023 at 12:20 pm

      Hi Michelle, I hope it gives you peace of mind that administrators have actually taken disciplinary action for targeted harassment of students, as well as students within the organizing groups holding each other accountable. Cases of classes being interrupted and students and staff members being verbally accosted are not acceptable, period. As far as your statement about students being uneducated, I invite you to seek out digital copies of the teach-ins offered by faculty members who have dedicated their academic lives to Israeli, Palestinian, and colonial studies. These professors have offered calm, nuanced, and informed scholarly leadership during this tumultuous time.

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      • N

        Newly minted AlumDec 11, 2023 at 4:39 pm

        You talk about Whitman faculty offering “calm, nuanced, and informed scholarly leadership”, yet I have spoken with numerous tenured and visiting professors, as well as administration, and their experience is that their colleagues are anything but calm and nuanced, rather, they all recall being brow-beaten, accused of personally enacting genocide, and being openly dismissed in staff meetings and their concerns totally ignored.

        The professors responsible for Whitman’s “anti-colonial” teaching are all avowed communists with enormous level of bias. For four years, I and other students would meet up and discuss our professors and their readings, finding that the ideological assumptions of the professors and their selective readings often led to wildly inaccurate accounts of basic phenomena; even worse, students arrive to campus, meet avowed communist faculty, and completely isolate themselves in an echo chamber of reflexive leftism.

        My personal experience talking with Whitman students and getting conservative/libertarian readings into courses showed me that Whitman’s reflexive leftists are totally ignorant of the history and thought of ideologies they’ll write their thesis arguing against, assuming they’re even in the tiny minority of students brave enough to directly tackle an opposing ideology and not writing yet another unreadable account about “”””capitalism”””””.

        Fancy pamphlets and big words don’t make an education, and Whitman has lots of the former.

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    • S

      StudentDec 8, 2023 at 3:38 pm

      It seems ironic to me that you point to Whitman’s reputation for “teach[ing] its students to think critically and to become good citizens of the world,” yet are surprised when students use those tools to examine power inequalities and advocate for justice. Even if you disagree with the viewpoint, you have to support students’ free speech if you don’t want them to become “subsume[d] by political correctness and preferred speech,” a trend that has for decades been slanted disproportionately in favor of Israel.

      There are so many problems with Mr. Hemmat’s article, from citing disproven claims of beheading, failing to historically contextualize or provide adequate evidence for countless points, and his apparent blindness to the fact the students are well aware of Whitman’s colonial history, a connection that has carefully and accurately been drawn to the Palestinian case. That Mr. Hemmat leverages this criticism while obliviously stating that he lives on stolen land at the start of the second paragraph is disturbing. It is precisely views such as these–myopic, belligerent, and misinformed–which threaten to distract from actual instances of anti-semitism, further conflates Judaism and Zionism, and undermines solidarity efforts that allow for the mourning of Jewish lives lost while putting an end to the seventy-five plus year apartheid regime and ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. If the author or any of his supporters were willing to actually engage with the numerous teach-ins and educational events that have been hosted at Whitman, they would perhaps understand this.

      October 7 did not occur in a vacuum, and it is precisely the historical knowledge that you claim students lack that makes us aware of this–and my guess is that there are students who are actually much better informed than you. Yes, it is true that Egypt, Jordan, and other Arab states have historically been reluctant and at times deeply prejudicial to Palestinian refugees. This has to do with multiple factors, some influenced by securitization (which really do nothing and disproportionately affect non-combatants), concerns relating to overpopulation, nationalism, and an unwillingness to provide for refugees. Are you suggesting that we take that to mean we also should ignore the massacre and mass displacement of Palestinians? You seem to be insinuating that all Palestinians are inherently dangerous, which is why they have been shunned from emigrating. This is the same rhetoric induced by U.S. and European nationalists to prevent immigration, which as we know is highly racialized, does little to benefit national security, and inflicts significant harm on civilians.

      There was a time when speaking out against anti-Blackness, racism, colonialism, Indigenous genocide, and yes, anti-semitism and Islamophobia, was considered radical and worthy of repression. In many places, it still is. There will be a time when we look upon this moment with shame and wonder why it took so long and was so taboo to talk about something so incredibly obvious as the oppression and genocide of the Palestinian people.

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    • S

      StudentDec 12, 2023 at 1:48 pm

      Why don’t Arab countries take Palestinian refugees? There’s literally 2 million in Jordan, 250,000 in Lebanon, and Egypt has 9 million refugees. It is not the job of other Arab countries to solve a problem perpetrated by Israel. Additionally, Palestinians that remain in Palestine are acting in resistance to genocide and are protecting their historical land.

      Joseph Gerbils, the head propagandist in Germany in the 30s and 40s also made this point, saying that “there was no willingness to absorb the excess Jewish population emigrating from Germany.” What an extremely misrepresentative thing to say. I’m sure you would agree.

      Thank you to my professors for teaching my how to research effectively and think critically!

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  • E

    EricDec 7, 2023 at 4:31 pm

    this was supposed to be in humor the author of the letter messed up. this is for serious opinions not clown ones those go in humor!

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    • S

      StudentDec 7, 2023 at 6:31 pm

      Don’t be ridiculous. Just because someone has a different opinion on this issue than you do doesn’t mean you need to trivialize their perspective by laughing at it. If you want to engage in thoughtful dialogue with their ideas instead of refusing to listen to them, I’d advise you to show a bit of grace and humility.

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    • S

      StudentDec 7, 2023 at 6:31 pm

      Don’t be ridiculous. Just because someone has a different opinion on this issue than you do doesn’t mean you need to trivialize their perspective by laughing at it. If you want to engage in thoughtful dialogue with their ideas instead of refusing to listen to them, I’d advise you to show a bit of grace and humility.

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  • S

    StudentDec 7, 2023 at 4:00 pm

    It is quite inappropriate to invoke the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla peoples in such a misguided critique of student activism. Do you not see the point of occupying a building gifted to Whitman College in honor of Marcus Whitman? Many students who are fighting for Palestine also understand the deep connections that colonialism at home has with colonialism abroad. To expect students to stay quiet because they ALSO live on stolen land is a complete misunderstanding of solidarity and our ability to push for liberation transnationally.

    I suggest you read “Our History is the Future” by Nick Estes, or maybe learn from the students who discussed Indigenous histories in America and their connection to Palestine during Power & Privilege last year AND during the Teach-in this week.

    Students are not ignoring the issue of colonialism at home. The Palestinian cause actually lifts up these issues. It also roots the problem in Western racism and white supremacy which is largely the cause of anti-semitism, islamophobia, and Indigenous colonization, which students have been outspoken against. It is not ironic that students are lifting up the Palestinian cause. It is necessary as we sit on stolen land and simultaneously fight for issues that involve our local Indigenous community.

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    • A

      AlumDec 14, 2023 at 10:38 pm

      In the same vein, let’s not hold Israel up as a paragon of progressive ideology. Gay marriage is still not legal in Israel. Nor is interfaith marriage.
      What some of y’all fail to recognize is that a person can be against Israel’s political doctrine without being antisemitic. The students at Whitman are not saying that the actions of Hamas were acceptable. No reasonable person thinks Hamas is an unimpeachably moral actor. What they are saying is that the government of Israel is not responding appropriately. Which is a fairly understandable opinion to hold. You don’t have to agree with that opinion, but it’s not a radical position to take.

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      • A

        Anonymous StudentJan 9, 2024 at 10:50 pm

        Here is the problem: how can you say they are not supporting Hamas when they go ahead and post an image of a paraglider in the days immediately following October 7th? How can you say that they are not supporting Hamas when they refuse to publicly refer to it as a terrorist organization? SJP cannot have it both ways – either they support Hamas or they don’t. If they truly are not in support of Hamas’ actions, they should apologize for their missteps. The fact that they did not do so when they were asked about the paraglider image at a teach-in, and instead stated that the use of the image was intentional, tells me that at least some members of the group do support Hamas’ actions.

        You are right in saying that criticizing Israeli government is not necessarily antisemitic. However, criticism of Israel does become antisemitic if any of the following criteria are met:

        – Demonization: Israel’s actions are blown out of reasonable proportion

        – Double Standards: Israel is held to a higher standard than any other country

        – Delegitimization: Stating that Israel does not have a right to exist as a Jewish state

        SJP has engaged in all of these acts.

        Demonization:
        – Referring to all Israelis as colonizers even though Jews have been in the land of Israel since antiquity.

        – Accusing Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing, a statement that has been repeatedly referred to as antisemitic by the Union of Reformed Judaism and the Anti Defamation League.

        Double Standards:
        – Why is so much scrutiny placed on Israel, but not China for its treatment of its Uyghur population? Why were there no walk outs against Hamas’ actions? Why did nobody hold a sit in for ongoing crisis in the Congo? Why were 19 pages of a 21 page divestment proposal exclusively referring to weapon manufacturing as it relates to Israel? Calling out Israel while ignoring / excusing similar acts of injustice in the world is holding Israel to a higher standard than other countries, and is antisemitic.

        Delegitimization:
        – Suggesting Israel does not have a right to exist “from the river to the sea”

        To your point, criticizing the flaws of the Israeli government is not antisemitic. Calling for a ceasefire, and encouraging the Israeli government to avoid as many civilian casualties as possible is not antisemitic. However, SJP has not adequately condemned Hamas (like you claim they have), and have engaged in demonization, double standards, and delegitimization surrounding the state of Israel. Like you mentioned, Israel, like every other country is not perfect. It can be called out when it makes mistakes. However, SJP has repeatedly crossed the line between criticizing Israel and antisemitism. That is what we are calling out, and what Whitman should be acknowledging.

        Reply
  • S

    StudentDec 7, 2023 at 3:50 pm

    THE INTIFADA IS GLOBAL.

    LAND BACK FROM TURTLE ISLAND TO PALESTINE.

    BOARD OF TRUSTEES: DIVEST NOW FROM APARTHEID.

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      Cormac Uriah LiDec 7, 2023 at 5:57 pm

      Sorry Kate, you can’t call for an Intifada and a ceasefire at the same time.

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      • S

        Sit down CormacDec 7, 2023 at 7:20 pm

        “Intifada” just means “uprising.” So actually, yeah, you can call for Israel to stop massacring people by then tens of thousands while also encouraging others to stand up in the face of violence. That’s generally how decolonization works.

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      Reasonable StudentDec 12, 2023 at 4:26 pm

      Please be realistic. This helps nobody. By the way, I support Palestine

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    • S

      StudentDec 14, 2023 at 3:49 am

      Terminal leftist brain-rot. Like a fox news comment section in reverse.

      Reply
  • F

    FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEADec 7, 2023 at 3:02 pm

    Palestine will be free.

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      ShoshanaDec 7, 2023 at 7:27 pm

      FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, ISRAEL WILL BE ALL THAT YOU CAN SEE!
      ישראל will be free from Hamas and enemies!
      Am Israel Chai!
      עם ישראל חי!
      ביחד ננצח!

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    • P

      ParentDec 26, 2023 at 9:52 am

      Yes, free from Hamas

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  • S

    StudentDec 7, 2023 at 10:13 am

    Many things have been left out in this critique, such as the failure to recognize that since the Hamas attack Israel has been bombing Gaza resulting in a death toll of more than 17,000 Palestinians as compared to the around 1,200 Israeli deaths on Oct. 7.

    THIS war started on Oct. 7, BUT there is a 75+ year history, and an apartheid regime that multiple human rights organizations have accused Israel as functioning as, that provides much need context to this attack.

    Before criticizing Palestinian solidarity, first question why did the attack even happen in the first place? And why are you choosing to ONLY focus on the attack. Is there not context to everything? The actions of Hamas must indeed be condemned but to act as if it was completely unprovoked and not a response to years of occupation and struggle is a denial of reality. Go beyond what is depicted in Western media and do further more in depth research and much more will be revealed to you.

    Free Palestine.

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      ElizabethDec 21, 2023 at 7:31 pm

      “to act as if it was completely unprovoked and not a response to years of occupation and struggle is a denial of reality.”

      Ah, I see — those babies and toddlers having breakfast in their kitchens “provoked” Hamas into slaughtering them. Those young women at the music festival “provoked” Hamas to gang rape, mutilate, and murder them. Right.

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    • P

      ParentDec 26, 2023 at 9:54 am

      yes, free Palestine, but first and foremost from Hamas

      Reply