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Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine Boycotts The Crimson Over Allegations of Anti-Palestinian Bias

A pro-Palestine student group announced a boycott of The Harvard Crimson, alleging the newspaper's coverage held an anti-Palestinian bias.
A pro-Palestine student group announced a boycott of The Harvard Crimson, alleging the newspaper's coverage held an anti-Palestinian bias. By Julian J. Giordano
By Emma H. Haidar and Cam E. Kettles, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine Coalition, an unrecognized pro-Palestine student group, accused The Harvard Crimson of anti-Palestinian bias in its coverage and said it would boycott the campus newspaper until May 6 in a Friday letter sent to Crimson leadership.

HOOP wrote that it would only terminate the boycott after May 6 if The Crimson “removes the names of the students who did not consent to be named” in articles about the encampment and “agrees to attend a Crimson-exclusive training on anti-Palestinian bias in media, hosted by Palestinian organizers.”

In the letter — addressed to the president and managing editor of The Crimson — the group accused the paper of unethical reporting on a pro-Palestine encampment in Harvard Yard. In particular, the group highlighted The Crimson publishing the names of certain pro-Palestine student activists and accused reporters of attempting to hide their affiliations to the paper while reporting at the encampment.

Crimson President J. Sellers Hill ’25 wrote in a statement that “our newsroom always strives to provide fair, accurate, and ethical coverage.”

“We stand behind the work of our reporters and editors, who have worked hard to maintain open dialogue with a range of groups at a time of heightened tensions on our campus,” Hill wrote.

HOOP called the decision to name two pro-Palestine student organizers across multiple articles “malicious malpractice” in the context of doxxing attacks, arrests, and violent assaults of Palestinian and pro-Palestine organizers across the country.

They added that one of the students, who had been named in a May 2 Crimson article after giving a speech at a rally by the encampment, “was intentionally not introduced by name at the rally in order to insulate her from potential disciplinary sanctions–a safety decision that has now been jeopardized by Crimson reporting.”

The protester has been photographed and quoted by name by multiple local news reports on pro-Palestine students and campus activism, including in an article about the encampment by WGBH, a Boston public radio station.

The group wrote that they had repeatedly asked Crimson Managing Editor Miles J. Herszenhorn ’25 to refrain from identifying protesters.

Society of Professional Journalists President Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins wrote in an email that she did not think “The Crimson did anything unethical in fully naming the sources in question.”

“If the sources’ names were already in the public domain via news coverage by other news media outlets (and major ones in the Boston area), then the sources should have had no expectation of anonymity when additional news media outlets covered them and/or the story,” Blaize-Hopkins wrote.

Hill wrote that “reporting decisions, including when, why, and in what manner we identify students in our coverage, are informed by our mission to report on the Harvard community while following standard journalistic practices.”

“These decisions have been thoughtfully, consistently, and fairly applied,” he added. “We take any concerns about our reporting practices very seriously, and we always welcome feedback from our readers and those we cover.”

The Crimson has previously granted pro-Palestine organizers anonymity in response to credible safety threats.

Since April 24, HOOP has staged an encampment in the center of Harvard Yard, demanding that the University divest from companies and institutions with ties to Israel’s war on Hamas and its settlements in the West Bank.

The group gave Harvard a May 6 deadline to meet its demands but did not specify what would happen after that date. The University has repeatedly rebuffed calls for divestment.

HOOP also accused Crimson reporters of concealing their press badges while reporting at the encampment and “lurking” at encampment meetings held in Harvard Yard.

According to Hill, The Crimson has no evidence to support the allegations that reporters had misrepresented themselves at the encampment.

As the gates to Harvard Yard remain restricted to Harvard affiliates, media access has been primarily restricted to reporters from The Crimson and other Harvard students working for external media organizations, though some non-affiliate reporters have also managed to enter the Yard.

HOOP also wrote in the letter that it was “deeply outraged” by The Crimson’s portrayal of the protester’s speech at the rally.

In the article, The Crimson quotes her as saying, “People in Palestine are calling this the ‘student intifada.’”

It then describes the Arabic word “intifada” as a reference “to Palestinian uprisings against Israel” and notes that many Jewish people consider the word antisemitic.

According to HOOP, “The Crimson shows, here, that it is no better than far-right members of Congress and demagogues who reduce the entire history of Palestinian resistance to a racist caricature of an Arabic word.”

They noted that the term “intifada” also means “uprising” and has been used to describe other uprisings in Arabic, including the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

—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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