Harvard students organize one-state solution conference
No pro-Israel speakers are planned and school distances itself from controversial ideology
(JTA) — Harvard University is hosting a two-day conference on the one-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The conference at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, scheduled for March 3-4, is organized by students at the school.
In a letter sent late last week to Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, expressed his “deep concern” over the conference, which is subtitled “Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution.”
“This conference links Harvard and the Kennedy School with a discredited concept having a singular outcome: the elimination of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people,” Foxman said in his letter.
Speakers are scheduled to include Ali Abunimah, founder of the Electronic Intifada website; Rabbi Brant Rosen of Evanston, Ill., co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council; and author Stephen Walt, who with John Mearsheimer wrote “The Israel Lobby.” The list of speakers does not appear to have anyone sympathetic to Israel’s side.
The web page for the conference includes a disclaimer that reads: “The One-State Conference is run solely by the student organizers, and students alone are responsible for all aspects of the program, including content and speakers, as will all student-run events. It does not represent the views of the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, or any Harvard school or center.”
Foxman called the statement “wholly insufficient to address the dangerous implications of the real meaning of this conference.”
“This conference goes beyond academic discourse about the conflict by promoting the elimination of the Jewish state,” Foxman said in his letter to Faust. “Although the conference organizers state that one of their goals for the conference is to ‘help to expand the range of academic debate on this issue,’ there can never be any legitimate discussion of a concept which, by its very nature, will result in the end of the Jewish character of Israel.”
ADL said in a news release issued February 24 that Faust and Dean David Ellwood of the Kennedy School of Government in a phone call with Foxman acknowledged ADL’s concerns and said Harvard did not accept any policy that would lead to the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel.
Following the telephone call, Ellwood issued a statement regarding the conference that said, in part, “We would never take a position on specific policy solutions to achieving peace in this region, and certainly would not endorse any policy that some argue could lead to the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel.”
Foxman said that “Ellwood’s statement reflects Harvard University’s effort to protect the cherished right of academic freedom and act responsibly by publicly rejecting odious ideas.”