Ask Harvard Kennedy School’s Dean to Disinvite Ehud Barak: (617) 495-1122,  doug_elmendorf@hks.harvard.edu.

Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston joins six student organizations from Harvard College, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Law School in opposing the Kennedy School’s hosting of Ehud Barak, former Israeli Minister of Defense (2007 – 2013), in a fellowship this Fall.

During his time as Minister of Defense, Barak oversaw war crimes against the Palestinian people, including:

  • Denying shipments of food, water, fuel, construction materials, and medical supplies to 1.5 million people of Gaza through the imposition of a military siege, between 2007 – 2013 (United Nations).
  • Killing 1,300, injuring 5,000, and displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza during the 2008 bombardment “Operation Cast Lead” (United Nations).
  • Attacking the Mavi Marvara, a civilian humanitarian aid ship, killing 10 unarmed activists (Times of Israel).

Furthermore, as Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 – 2001, Barak accelerated the construction of illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank yet blamed Palestinian leadership for a standstill in peace negotiations (New York Times).  This exemplifies the violent history of Israel’s disingenuous US-backed peace offers to Palestinians, which have served as a public relations cover for Israeli land grabs.

What message does it send to Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students when their educational home extends a platform to someone who has disenfranchised and committed war crimes against their communities, or in the case of some students, their own families?

As an organization of Jewish advocates for justice and human rights, consisting of almost 5,000 supporters in the Greater Boston, we are united with Harvard’s Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students in demanding the severance of all contact between Harvard and Ehud Barak.

Contact the Dean of Harvard Kennedy School to voice your concerns at  617-495-1122 or doug_elmendorf@hks.harvard.edu.

Below is the original letter from the Palestine Caucus at HKS, the Arab Caucus at HKS, the Muslim Caucus at HKS, members of Harvard Arab Students Association, Palestine Solidarity Committee – Harvard College, and Harvard Law School Justice for Palestine:

To the Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government,

We, as members of the undersigned student organizations at HKS and Harvard, are outraged that Ehud Barak – an individual suspected of war crimes – has been invited to be a fellow at HKS and to speak this Wednesday, September 21 at the JFK Forum.

As the Minister of Defense of Israel from 2007-2013, Ehud Barak imposed a siege on 1.5 million residents of Gaza, causing severe food, fuel, and medical equipment shortages, affecting drinking water and electricity supply, and disrupting sewage treatment. In 2008, during the I.D.F-launched “Operation Cast Lead,” he ordered the aerial bombardment of Gazan population centers, dropping white phosphorous and bombs on Gazan neighborhoods, killing at least 1,300 men, women, and children, and injuring more than 5,000. The bombardment did not spare schools, hospitals, and even UN facilities; doctors were shot at and prevented from helping casualties. According to the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict “the Israeli armed forces directly and intentionally attacked al-Quds hospital in Gaza City and the adjacent ambulance depot with white phosphorous shells. The attack caused fires which took a whole day to extinguish and caused panic among the sick and wounded who had to be evacuated”. The bombardment also destroyed thousands of homes, displacing hundreds of thousands of Gazans and making them homeless.

He was also responsible for the Israeli military attack on the Mavi Marmara, a civilian and activist flotilla that attempted to sail to Gaza to break the inhuman Israeli siege and deliver humanitarian aid. Israeli soldiers killed 10 activists, including an American citizen. Ehud Barak also assassinated a family member of current HKS and Harvard students. This makes HKS, and Harvard at large, an unsafe space for these students where they must see someone who murdered their family member instead of a place where they can feel at home.

Mr. Barak’s actions and policies, of which we named only a few, have been met with outrage from the international community concerned with upholding international law and human rights. Between 2008 and 2010, he faced the threat of arrest for war crimes if he visited the UK, and was among 14 officials to be charged with war crimes in Belgium.

This is not the profile of speakers that the JFK forum, and HKS at large, were meant to host and welcome.

By hosting Ehud Barak as a fellow, and extending a platform for him to speak at the Forum, HKS legitimizes war crimes and human rights abuses and clearly shows disregard to the thousands of Palestinians who were killed, lost family members, and their homes as a direct result of Ehud Barak’s decisions.

As ethical and active students with a global perspective, committed to social justice, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the hosting of Ehud Barak on our campus and urge the HKS administration to reconsider his fellowship and hosting this event.

Signed,

The Palestine Caucus at HKS

The Arab Caucus at HKS

The Muslim Caucus at HKS

Harvard Arab Students Association (endorsed by representatives of HASA)

Palestine Solidarity Committee – Harvard College

Harvard Law School Justice for Palestine