With two senior Harvard administrators and about 15 Harvard policemen standing by to keep the peace, the Harvard-Radcliffe Zionist Alliance and the Boston-based Lebanon-Palestine Crisis Coalition held rival demonstrations in front of Holyoke Center last night on the recent deaths in Lebanon.
The two groups, separated by a few feet, exchanged occasional heated words which drew Harvard police near, but did not clash physically.
"The [pro-Palestinian] demonstrators are very ordered and very well-disciplined and I compliment them on it, as well as the people expressing a different point of view," said Daniel Steiner '54. Harvard's general counsel, who observed both demonstrations. "But Harvard police are here to make sure things are orderly," he said.
Harvard Chief of Police Saul L. Chafin was also on hand throughout the demonstrations.
Last night marked the coalition's fourth protest in front of Holyoke Center this week in opposition to what they say is Israel's policy of "genocide" in Lebanon. The group represents Arabs from the Boston area as well as other concerned individuals, Lisa Chehabi, a spokesman for the coalition, said yesterday.
Protesters from the Zionist Alliance said that they were distraught about the events in Lebanon, but that they objected to the coalition's persistence in using the events to challenge Israel's right to exist. In particular, alliance members expressed outrage at the protesters' constant comparison of Israel with the Nazis.
In a related event last night, the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci sharply criticized Israel's role in Lebanon at the Kennedy School's IOP Forum. Fallaci drew on a recent interview with Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.
Palestinians at Harvard React
For the Palestinian community at Harvard, the events in the Middle East that sparked last night's demonstrations take on a more personal significance.
"The Palestinians will never forget this The Jews remember Holocaust I and this is Holocaust H." Bishara Bahbah, a graduate student in Government and a Palestinian who lives in East Jerusalem, said yesterday. Bahbah added that his sister who lives in West Beirut disappeared when the Israelis surrounded the Lebanese capital.
"There is deep outrage against the Phalangists, Israel, and the U.S. among Harvard's Arab community," said George Bisharat, President of the Arab Students Society.
"Israel is responsible for the massacre last week but it is just one step in their master plan to raze any organized institution of the Palestinian people," he added.
"The Palestinians need a state and the Israelis must realize this before there is any peace," said Zainab Hasham, a Mason Fellow at the Kennedy School and a Jordanian Palestinian.
"The Israelis do not see this," he added.