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Harvard Affiliates Gather at Vigil to Mourn Palestinian Lives Lost

Dozens of Harvard affiliates gathered in front of Memorial Church Sunday evening for a vigil to mourn Palestinian lives lost in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Dozens of Harvard affiliates gathered in front of Memorial Church Sunday evening for a vigil to mourn Palestinian lives lost in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By Julian J. Giordano
By Joyce E. Kim, Crimson Staff Writer

More than 40 Harvard affiliates gathered on the steps of Memorial Church on Sunday evening for a vigil to mourn the deaths of Palestinians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Organized by members of the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee, the candlelit vigil comes roughly two weeks after a Feb. 22 Israeli Defense Forces raid in Nablus — a city in the West Bank — that killed 11 Palestinians and wounded more than 100.

During the vigil, attendees stood in a circle as they shared their personal reasons for mourning. Afterward, an organizer read out the names of some of the Palestinians killed in attacks in January, leaving a moment of silence after each name.

Joshua D. Willcox ’23-’24, a PSC member who spoke at the vigil, said in an interview that he helped organize the vigil to honor the Palestinian lives lost to what he described as “an apartheid regime.”

“The massacre of those 11 Palestinians was particularly horrific,” Willcox said. “But it’s almost a Palestinian being shot every day.”

“It should be a vigil every day,” Willcox added.

Nadine S. Bahour ’22, former co-president of the PSC, said she found it “striking” and “heartwarming” to hear attendees’ different backgrounds and reasons for coming to the vigil.

“It was also very heartwarming to see alumni from over 10 years ago come and share that this is something that they couldn’t speak about — and no one dared speak about — at Harvard when they were students, and that now, this is something that we can do,” Bahour said.

Willcox called on Harvard leadership to make a statement against Israel’s presence in Palestine, rather than what he called “the usual pathetic weak stance that they take.”

“People don’t want an expression of dismay at lives lost. That’s what people suffering under this violence have heard for far too long — ‘We’re sorry,’ ‘This is a bad event,’ and ‘This is disgraceful’ or whatever — and then they do nothing,” Willcox said.

Bahour added that she believes Harvard has an “obligation to take an action” and “divest from Israeli apartheid.”

Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton declined to comment on student criticisms at the vigil.

University President Lawrence S. Bacow will travel to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan later this month for one of his final international trips as Harvard’s president.

Bahour said she hopes the vigil demonstrated to Palestinian students that they are supported on campus and inspires students who attended to take action.

“So many of the speakers were talking about hope and about doing something,” Bahour said. “Every Harvard student should be doing something, and if they needed a reminder — which they shouldn’t — but this is it.”

Willcox called on Harvard affiliates to act in solidarity by flying the Palestinian flag “at Harvard and across the world” and honoring those who have died in the conflict.

“Palestinians living under apartheid do not attend Harvard, live in the United States, or reap the necessary freedom and platform which follows,” Willcox said. “We do — some of us do — and solidarity means recognizing and acting upon those facts, upon our freedoms and our platforms.”

—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at

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