ADL: Tactic seeks to intimidate, silence dialogue

Pro-Palestinian activists post eviction notices on students’ dorms

Harvard students receive notes informing them that their rooms are slated for demolition as part of Apartheid Week promotion

An illustrative photo of pro-Palestinian demonstrators during an Apartheid Week event at the University of Texas. (photo credit: CC-BY Monad86, Flickr)
An illustrative photo of pro-Palestinian demonstrators during an Apartheid Week event at the University of Texas. (photo credit: CC-BY Monad86, Flickr)

Mock eviction notices were posted on students’ dorm room doors at Harvard University over the weekend in an effort to promote the polemical 9th annual Israeli Apartheid Week, prompting outrage from the Anti-Defamation League.

The pro-Palestinian campaign runs at various times from late-February through mid-March on North American college campuses.

The campaign at Harvard, which was organized by the university’s branch of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, on Saturday distributed the notices, which read, “We regret to inform you that your suite is scheduled for demolition in the next three days,” in apparent parody of Israel’s perceived treatment of the Palestinians.

The ADL on Tuesday decried the Harvard students’ campaign as hostile and anti-Israel.

“This tactic is designed to silence and intimidate pro-Israel advocates at Harvard and campuses around the country,” Robert Trestan, acting director of the ADL’s New England region, said in a press release. “Free expression has a place on campus; however targeting the dorms of Harvard students lends itself to creating tension, isolating students and fomenting hostility.”

“We recognize and support free speech, but condemn the anti-Israel views expressed in the eviction notices as factually incorrect and intolerant,” Mr. Trestan continued. “This is an example of how anti-Israel activism on campus can cross the line by causing supporters to feel isolated and intimidated.”

Jeffrey Robbins, chair of the ADL’s New England Regional Board, added that the activists were seeking to delegitimize Israel and stifle meaningful dialogue on campuses.

“It is morally disgraceful to label Israel as an apartheid state because it constructed a security barrier to keep innocent Israeli civilians from being targeted with terrorism. This tactic of mock eviction notices is more calculated to mislead and offend than to shed light.”

Israeli Apartheid Week began in Toronto in 2005 and has since spread to 55 cities around the world. The week comprises a series of lectures and public activism events that seek to raise international awareness about Israel’s military administration of the West Bank and what the organizers claim are racist, discriminatory policies toward Palestinians. 

They state their objective is to spread awareness about Zionism and the Palestinian national struggle for liberation from Israeli control. They also, controversially, draw comparisons between the Palestinian movement and South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement. The week is joined by mass BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaigns that seek to convince people, shops, artists, and others not to sell, buy, or engage with Israeli and settlement-produced goods. 

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