Students from Harvard University carry a banner in support of Palestine (Reuters)

Despite the pressure from pro-Israel groups in the United States on Harvard University, a number of its students say that they are continuing their demonstrations in support of Palestine and criticizing the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Students returning from the winter break believe that the tension at the university has not ended yet, despite the resignation of its president, Claudine Guy, due to the pressure exerted on her after she considered that the protests against Israel fall within the scope of freedom of expression.

Since October 7, 2023, the Israeli army has been waging a devastating war on Gaza that, as of Wednesday, has left 24,448 dead and 61,504 injured, and caused the displacement of about 1.9 million people, meaning more than 85% of the Strip’s population, according to the Palestinian authorities and the United Nations. United.

During that period, demonstrations took place all over the world demanding an end to the Israeli war on Gaza, which is supported by the administration of US President Joe Biden, as it used its veto power twice in the UN Security Council against two draft resolutions calling for its cessation.

Guillermo Silva, a student in the Department of Politics and Philosophy at Harvard University, told Anadolu Agency: “Unfortunately, these days, we make newspaper and media headlines more than what is happening in the Gaza Strip.”

Silva, a member of the Student Association of the Palestine Solidarity Committee at the university, added that the university was subjected to external pressure, especially from many donors and politicians in the United States, aimed at suppressing freedom of expression in support of the Palestinians.

Fear and caution

Silva noted that the student body at Harvard University is very active politically, and that since October 7, pro-Palestinian activity has become very clear on campus.

He pointed out that the current situation on campus, for many pro-Palestinian activists, is one of fear and caution because no one is sure what will happen in the future.

He added, “We know that University President Gay was forced to resign, noting that she was subjected to great criticism for not preventing student bodies from organizing pro-Palestinian demonstrations.”

He explained that the university was on winter break when the decision was made to resign the university president, and that the students were unable to show the necessary reaction to that.

He said we expect a lot of activity when students return to campus because we will not stop talking about Palestine and Gaza just because we face strong opposition.

Silva pointed out that the new university president is from within the institution and that students do not yet have any reason to believe that he will be more aggressive towards students.

He added, "But we know that Harvard University is facing more pressure (which he did not explain), and that the parties (without naming anyone) that are exercising it will not stop."

Without going into details, Silva confirmed that Harvard University has investments linked to illegal settlers in Palestine, and considered that this is a terrible thing and that the university is not in a good position to support Palestinian students and sympathize with those who have lost their family members, noting that those he described as right-wing extremist politicians In the country they use these events to attack Harvard University.

He continued: "It is not normal for Congress to waste its time summoning a university president and trying to destroy his career just because he did not silence the students of his university. We clearly see attempts to defame us, destroy our professional future, and target us."

He expressed his belief that Republicans in Congress will not stop targeting university students and that the pressure will continue to increase, stressing in this context the students’ determination not to back down from demanding peace.

He noted that anti-Palestinian events at the university are mostly organized by outside groups.

On the right side

Silva pointed out that the students never called for encouraging violence against Israel, but rather were only trying to show the suffering of the Palestinians.

He added: I think the reason behind them attacking us with such force is the fear of changing public opinion, because public opinion is changing in favor of Palestine, not only in the United States, but in the international community as well.

He continued: There is a growing reaction against Israel's policy, and this will continue even if they pursue university students like me, and even if they blacklist them and target them aggressively, people will know what is happening in Gaza.

He pointed to the large amount of resources spent by pro-Israel groups attacking students at Harvard University and launching slander against them, stressing that the students will not surrender despite this.

Silva continued: Despite all these attacks, and all the false descriptions they describe us with, such as terrorist sympathizers or anti-Semites, we will continue to show the truth.

He explained that the Palestine Solidarity Committee is a group of Harvard University students who care about Palestine, international law, and preventing civilian suffering, and those who believe that targeting us forcefully would discourage us from caring about these issues are wrong.

Silva added that the pain of the Palestinians still exists before and after the Nakba (the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948), and this is unacceptable to us.

He added: We believe that this will also become unacceptable to the world in a few years. As is the case with the demonstrators against the Vietnam War (with the United States), we know that we are on the right side of history and that is why we will continue this approach, and they can do everything they can against us. .

freedom of expression

Some pro-Israel groups criticized the pro-Palestinian demonstrations that took place in United States universities in response to the Israeli attacks on Gaza, claiming that they were “anti-Semitic,” and on October 5, the US Congress’ Education and Workforce Committee summoned both Gay and the president of the University of... Pennsylvania's Elizabeth Magill and MIT President Sally Kornbluth to a session on holding university presidents accountable and combating anti-Semitism.

Gay, Magill, and Kornbluth were subjected to pressure and criticism to resign because they considered the protests against Israel to fall within the scope of “freedom of expression.”

More than 500 Harvard faculty members signed a petition in support of the university president.

Source: Anadolu Agency