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Harvard Contract Worker Ordered to Leave Campus After Videotaped Tearing Down Israeli Hostage Posters

A video of a heated confronatation involving a man contracted by Harvard removing posters of Israeli hostages in Harvard Yard led to the University banning the man from working on campus on Wednesday.
A video of a heated confronatation involving a man contracted by Harvard removing posters of Israeli hostages in Harvard Yard led to the University banning the man from working on campus on Wednesday. By Marina Qu
By Michelle N. Amponsah and Joyce E. Kim, Crimson Staff Writers

A man who was contracted by Harvard to do groundskeeping work was ordered to leave campus and was banned from returning to work for the University after he was videotaped tearing down posters of Israeli hostages from a posting area in Harvard Yard.

The video, posted to X by Jewish student organization Harvard Chabad Wednesday morning, revealed a confrontation between a man who was wearing a crimson “Harvard Campus Services” sweater and an unknown individual who filmed the encounter.

The person filming the video repeatedly asks the worker why he is removing the posters of Israeli hostages from a bulletin board outside of Thayer Hall. The video of the encounter, which lasted less than five minutes, showed the worker getting increasingly upset by the repeated questions about why he was tearing down the posters.

“It is my fucking job,” the worker told the person filming the encounter.

As the exchange grew more heated, one of the worker’s colleagues stepped between the worker seen tearing down the posters and the person filming the video.

By the end of the video, after repeated back-and-forths, the worker —who his colleague referred to as “Jackson” in the video — began yelling in the face of the person filming the video, telling him to “get the fuck out of here” and that “nobody wants to talk with you.”

Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton wrote in a statement Wednesday afternoon that the University “strongly condemns” the worker’s actions.

“The contract worker was directed to leave campus, and his employer has been notified that the individual may not be assigned to return to campus to perform work in the future,” Newton added.

The worker in the video could not be immediately reached for comment.

In a caption to the X post with the video, Harvard Chabad condemned the tearing down of the posters. Per a long-standing University protocol, all posters are removed from posting areas in Harvard Yard every Monday and Thursday.

The removal of the posters on a Wednesday morning appeared to be inconsistent with the University’s own policies.

“On the request of our Israeli students to raise awareness of the suffering of their loved ones being held hostage in Gaza, Harvard Chabad has been sponsoring posters of their loved ones,” Harvard Chabad wrote on X. “Against university policy and MA law, our posters have been torn down almost daily.”

“Last night, a student camped out to see who was doing this,” the post added. “This is what he encountered.”

Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi, the Harvard Chabad president and a Jewish Chaplain at the University, decried the incident in a Wednesday afternoon email.

“It was a stunning example of how even after so many months of antisemitism shamefully exposed on the Harvard campus, how little has changed,” Zarchi wrote. “The continued hateful tearing and defacing of the posters and the faces of Jewish hostages on the Harvard campus and across America is a stain on the soul of our university and the country.”

The Harvard Jewish Alumni Alliance also weighed in on the video in a Wednesday post on X.

“With the tension on campus, the lawsuits, the congressional investigation – how easy would it have been for Harvard to give a quick policy refresh to its employees?” the group wrote, referring to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s investigation into antisemitism at Harvard. “Just apply your own rules equally.”

Anonymous posters and a string of poster vandalisms have deepened divisions among the Harvard student body. In January, posters of Israeli hostages were defaced with antisemitic messages, though it is unclear whether the people who vandalized the posters were Harvard affiliates.

—Staff writer Michelle N. Amponsah can be reached at michelle.amponsah@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X at @mnamponsah.

—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at joyce.kim@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X at @joycekim324.

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On CampusReligious GroupsUniversityHarvard YardFront FeatureUniversity NewsIsrael Palestine

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