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Amid continued national backlash, multiple Harvard student groups have withdrawn their signatures from a controversial statement calling Israel “entirely responsible” for the ongoing violence, and group members have faced doxxing attacks.
As of Tuesday night, at least five of the original 34 signatories — including Amnesty International at Harvard, Harvard College Act on a Dream, the Harvard Undergraduate Nepali Student Association, the Harvard Islamic Society, and Harvard Undergraduate Ghungroo — had withdrawn their endorsements, though the full list of endorsing groups was taken off the public statement earlier Tuesday.
The reversals followed severe condemnation and calls by thousands of Harvard affiliates to disavow the statement, which was originally penned by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee. It did not explicitly condemn violence against Israeli civilians, though a spokesperson for the group later wrote in a statement that “the PSC staunchly opposes violence against civilians — Palestinian, Israeli, or other.”
In a statement to The Crimson Tuesday night, Act on a Dream said the group signed the statement as “a result of miscommunication and a lack of due diligence in sharing the statement with the entirety of the board.”
“Our board members were not made aware that AOD as an organization had signed on to the PSC statement, so the endorsement of their statement in no way reflects their individual opinions about the ensuing violence in Palestine and Israel,” the statement reads. “As an organization, we want to express our empathy and solidarity for all the victims who have been affected by the violence in the region.”
“As an immigrants’ rights organization, we are also sensitive to our community’s need for privacy and safety,” the statement continues.
In a post on its Instagram page Tuesday, HUNSA explained its decision to recant the endorsement.
“We regret that our decision to co-sign the latest PSC statement to call attention to historical injustices against Palestinians, with an earnest desire for peace, has been interpreted as a tacit support for the recent violent attacks in Israel,” the statement reads.
“To ensure that our stance on the condemnation of violence by Hamas and support for a just peace remains clear, we retract our signature from the statement,” it continues.
Ghungroo posted a statement to its Instagram account late Tuesday night to “formally apologize” and retract its signature.
“We would like to clarify that we stand in solidarity with both Israeli and Palestinian victims and families. Undergraduate Ghungroo strictly denounces and condemns the massacre propagated by the terrorist organization Hamas,” the statement reads. “We truly apologize for the insensitivity of the statement that was released recently.”
The Harvard Islamic Society, Amnesty International at Harvard, and Amnesty International did not respond to requests for comment.
Harvard Law School student Danielle Mikaelian, a board member of a co-signing group, wrote in a Tuesday afternoon post on X that she found the statement “egregious” and resigned from her role.
“I am sorry for the pain this caused. My organization did not have a formal process and I didn’t even see the statement until we had signed on,” Mikaelian wrote.
But even as some groups have moved to walk back or clarify their original endorsements, concerns over doxxing and student safety have emerged.
As of Tuesday evening, at least four online sites had listed the personal information of students linked to clubs that had signed onto the statement, including full names, class years, past employment, social media profiles, photos, and hometowns.
At around 3 p.m. Tuesday, the original statement was updated to remove the names of the signatory organizations.
“For student safety, the names of all original signing organizations have been concealed at this time,” a footnote on the current statement reads.
On its Instagram page, the PSC also announced that a vigil planned for Tuesday evening to mourn “all civilian lives lost” had been postponed “due to credible safety concerns and threats against student security.”
Harvard spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo wrote in a Tuesday statement that the College was aware of the safety concerns.
“We have been in contact with students and have alerted authorities,” Palumbo wrote.
Some also called for students involved with the statement to be publicly named and face professional consequences.
“I have been asked by a number of CEOs if @harvard would release a list of the members of each of the Harvard organizations that have issued the letter assigning sole responsibility for Hamas’ heinous acts to Israel, so as to insure that none of us inadvertently hire any of their members,” billionaire hedge fund manager Bill A. Ackman ’88 wrote in a Tuesday post on X that has since garnered more than 11,000 reposts.
“If, in fact, their members support the letter they have released, the names of the signatories should be made public so their views are publicly known,” he added.
The PSC’s statement first drew backlash over the weekend, following a deadly attack on southern Israel by Islamist militants from the Gaza Strip, for stating that Israel is “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”
“Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum,” the statement reads. “For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison. Israeli officials promise to ‘open the gates of hell,’ and the massacres in Gaza have already commenced.”
In a statement Monday afternoon, a spokesperon for the PSC wrote that the organization’s members “reject the accusation that our previous statement could be read as supportive of civilian deaths.”
“The statement aims to contextualize the apartheid and colonial system while explicitly lamenting ‘the devastating and rising civilian toll’ in its caption,” the statement reads. “It is unacceptable that Palestinians and groups supporting them are always expected to preempt their statements with condemnation of violence.”
Harvard students, professors, and alumni also rebuked the statement, including former University President Lawrence H. Summers and federal politicians across both parties and chambers of Congress.
A joint statement by Harvard affiliates condemning the attacks and PSC’s statement circulated in the days following the statement. As of Tuesday evening, it had amassed more than 3,000 signatures. It called the PSC’s statement “completely wrong and deeply offensive” and demanded that the involved student groups retract their endorsements.
In a follow-up statement Tuesday, University President Claudine Gay distanced Harvard from the PSC’s statement, writing that “while our students have the right to speak for themselves, no student group — not even 30 student groups — speaks for Harvard University or its leadership.”
Editor’s Note: Readers should note that premoderation has been turned on for online commenting on this article out of concerns for student safety.
—Cara J. Chang, President
—Brandon L. Kingdollar, Managing Editor
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