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To the Editor: In Response to ‘In Support of Boycott, Divest, Sanctions and a Free Palestine’

By Ira E. Stoll

To the editor:

In general I think the content of the Crimson should be up to undergraduates not alumni, and in the almost 30 years since I was president this is the first time I can remember that I am furious enough to write with a complaint. That is an indicator of how disgusted I was with the staff editorial, published the morning after Holocaust Remembrance Day, singling out Israel, among all other nations, for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

What would Harvard boycotting Israel look like?

It would be a less diverse and inclusive Harvard. The Harvard University diversity and inclusion website states “we all belong here. Together, we strive to create an environment that values diversity, promotes an inclusive culture, and establishes a profound sense of belonging for each member of our community.” How are Israeli students, or Jewish students, supposed to feel valued and included when the Crimson is calling for a boycott of the Jewish state — literally, advocating exclusion in the form of unlawful discrimination on the basis of religion and national origin.

It would be a less educationally sound Harvard. How would students be supposed to study the history of Israel or the Middle East without interacting with any Israelis or without visiting Israel?

It would be a less healthy Harvard. No Pfizer coronavirus vaccine — Israeli public health data was used to validate its use here in America. No life-saving Teva generic pharmaceutical medicines dispensed at Harvard’s teaching hospitals.

It would be a less environmentally friendly Harvard. No chance of eating vegetables grown with water-saving Israeli drip-irrigation agricultural technology. No gas-saving self-driving cars equipped with Israeli Lidar technology.

It would be a less secure Harvard. No chance of using Israeli-proven missile defense technology like the Arrow or Iron Dome to protect Cambridge from missile attacks.

The Crimson’s position is so extreme it is almost laughably obsolete. Just months after diplomats from Israel’s Arab neighbors such as the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Egypt and Bahrain showed up in Israel to deepen trade, security and people-to-people ties, the Crimson wants to revert to the bad old days of Arab rejectionism.

If the Crimson has any sense it will apologize for the editorial and admit that it contradicts every important Harvard, journalistic and human value. In the old days, when the Crimson had paying subscribers and paying advertisers, some of them might cancel in response to such an antisemitic outrage. Nowadays, the paper is propped up by annual giving from alumni. We may ask ourselves why we’d volunteer anything — time, money, expertise — to fund an organization participating in a campaign to wipe the Jewish state off the map and to rid Harvard of any Israelis. It’s certainly nothing I feel like I want anything to do with.

Ira E. Stoll ’94 was President of The Crimson in 1993.

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