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Encampment Protesters Remove Drawing of Harvard President as Devil After Backlash

A tent in the pro-Palestine Harvard Yard encampment with a sign for Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine. HOOP took down a poster showing interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber '76 as a devil after criticisms that it was antisemitic.
A tent in the pro-Palestine Harvard Yard encampment with a sign for Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine. HOOP took down a poster showing interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber '76 as a devil after criticisms that it was antisemitic. By Ellen P. Cassidy
By Emma H. Haidar and Cam E. Kettles, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine, the unrecognized student group organizing the Harvard Yard encampment, took down a poster depicting interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 as a devil after affiliates criticized the drawing as antisemitic.

The poster depicted Garber, who is Jewish, with horns and a tail sitting on a toilet, and a caption that stated “Alan Garbage funds genocide.”

HOOP wrote in a statement to The Crimson that the organization took down the poster “in an abundance of caution and sensitivity” after concerns were raised.

“The movement for the liberation of Palestine includes the safety and belonging of all people,” the coalition wrote.

The poster’s removal came after backlash from Jewish Harvard affiliates, including Computer Science professor Boaz Barak, a member of the presidential task force on combating antisemitism.

Barak wrote that he was “embarrassed for Harvard” and called the sign an example of “old school” antisemitism in posts on X.

“Make no mistake, while I stand by my characterization of many protesting students as good-intentioned, there is certainly antisemitism and hate among that movement,” he wrote.

“As I wrote before, not putting it in check ultimately harms their own cause, as well as poisons the campus atmosphere for everyone else,” he added.

Two pro-Palestine student groups were also widely condemned for their use of an antisemitic cartoon in a February instagram post and the University referred the incident to the Harvard College Administrative Board, an administrative body responsible for the application and enforcement of Harvard College policies.

After removing the image, the two groups — Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee and the African and African American Resistance Organization — wrote that it had been included “inadvertently.”

HOOP, a coalition of pro-Palestine student groups at Harvard, has significant overlap in membership with the two student groups that reposted the antisemitic cartoon.

In response to a request for comment from HOOP, Allie Ryave — a Harvard Law School student and Jewish organizer with HLS Tzedek — wrote in a statement that she was not convinced that the depiction “crossed the blurry line into trope-ism.”

“People depict their political opponents with devil imagery often,” Ryave wrote. “I sympathize if people felt harmed by the possible implication of antisemitic tropes in this poster — but we must be clear that criticism of a Jewish administrator is not necessarily antisemitic.”

“I am far less concerned with an unintentional rhetorical slight than the barrage of bombs raining on Rafah, Gaza’s supposed safe zone, as we speak,” Ryave added.

A University spokesperson declined to comment for this article.

Correction: May 11, 2024

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Allie Ryave is an organizer with Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine. In fact, she is an organizer with HLS Tzedek.

—Staff writer Emma H. Haidar can be reached at emma.haidar@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @HaidarEmma.

—Staff writer Cam E. Kettles can be reached at cam.kettles@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @cam_kettles or on Threads @camkettles.

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