Kramer at Harvard: Student coalition pushing back

Kudos to the 16 student organizations at Harvard who co-sponsored an op-ed in the Harvard Crimson highly critical of the call that Martin Kramer issued recently for the U.S. government to halt its support for the U.N.’s provision of food and other humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees, based on the claimed “pro-natalist” effects of this aid upon the size of Palestinian refugee families.
The op-ed also criticized the leadership of Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, where Kramer is a Visiting Scholar, noting that WCFIA leaders described Kramer’s statements only as “controversial”. The op-ed writers described this as,

    an alarming position since less than a century ago similar remarks were made against African Americans and Jews. The characterization of his statements as merely “controversial” is offensive and dismisses their deeply racist nature.
    Since the Weatherhead Center provides Mr. Kramer with a legitimizing and prominent public platform, we wonder whether it views any policy call as ethically disgraceful. We are troubled that the center has presented little to no diversity of viewpoints on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The only notable statements on the conflict emerging from the center are Mr. Kramer’s.

They made the following requests of the WCFIA:

    First, we ask that the Weatherhead Center not renew Mr. Kramer’s fellowship or affiliation… Second, we call on the center to establish a committee of faculty and students to recommend the adoption of a set of vetting practices for incoming fellows that uphold a set of principles unified on non-racism, in concert with Harvard University’s own commitment to non-discriminatory practices and diversity of viewpoints.

Personally, I think the second request could have been better framed. I’m not sure about “vetting practices” in this context, and the proposal to “establish a committee… to recommend the adoption” of a set of such practices seems clunky and cumbersome. How about asking WCFIA to establish a committee of faculty and students to explore ways it can more effectively push forward the principles of non-racism, inclusivity, and wide-ranging intellectual exploration to which the university is committed? … Something like that.
Well, that’s my quibble. But the main point is that this is a magnificent coalition of student groups that has signed onto the op-ed. May their strength increase and their labors become ever more fruitful!

18 thoughts on “Kramer at Harvard: Student coalition pushing back

  1. J K

    Someone should read more carefully, and it is not the students. Opposing the statement that “neither the UN, nor any other agencies, provide Palestinians with specifically ‘pro-natal subsidies.'” Kramer considers the “pro-natal subsidy” to be the mandate that children be “fed and schooled” and have “hereditary ‘refugee’ status” – As they do everywhere else when the refugee problem remains unsettled, contrary to a standard propaganda lie. Why should Palestine be the exception? In any case, food is definitely made out to be part of the “pro-natal subsidy” by Kramer.
    A population is herded into a confined space where they continue to be robbed and attacked and prevented from earning a normal living in a normal economy. They of course become dependent on outside supplies for their sustenance. One is then informed that continuing these adverse conditions but proposing future denial of these supplies, not to the currently living, but to those not born, is perfectly all right (and a good problem-solving idea as shown by the effects of current supply limitation) and its critics don’t pay much attention to the actual words. Do tell.

  2. Sweet Sue

    I’m beginning to suspect that Helena may actually be on Mossad’s payroll. Just look at the list of organizations she is extolling here. Have you ever
    in your born days encountered a sadder bunch of losers?
    Alliance for Justice in the Middle East (Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
    GSAS Capoeira Angola
    Harvard College Human Rights Advocates
    Harvard Islamic Society
    Harvard Longwood Muslims (Harvard Medical School)
    Human Rights PIC at Harvard Kennedy School – Leadership Team
    Justice For Palestine (Harvard Law School)
    Middle East Law Students Association (HLS)
    Palestine Caucus (HKS)
    Palestine Solidarity Committee
    Society of Arab Students
    W. E. B. Du Bois Graduate Society

  3. Jack

    Unless I am mistaken, Israel, as the occupying power has the obligation to provide these services to the occupied people, the Palestinians. Changing the nature of the occupation by moving your troops to the perimeter does not end the occupation; one might just as well argue that the Nazis were not occupiers of the Warsaw Ghetto. Israel should at a minimum be required to reimburse the UN and all the donor nations for carrying out the legal obligation which Israel refuses to do. Israel and all of its true supporters should soundly denounce Kramer’s remarks which are nothing if not racism and calls for population control based solely on ethnicity. I concur that Vadim should actually read the comments he is supporting and explain why they do not amount to racism.

  4. Helena

    Sue, thank you for reproducing the list of the 16 organizations in whole. I cannot imagine why you think you’re in a position to dismiss them as “a bunch of losers”. Also, in the future, since this is my salon, please address me directly.

  5. bevin

    vadim, your link to Kramer’s silly blog clearly shows that he approves of the siege of Gaza on the grounds that it does starve the residents of food and medical supplies.
    The situation there, in its rough outline, is fairly common knowledge. What are your motives in downplaying the cruel treatment these innocent refugees from terror are receiving?
    Surely most friends of Israel would wish to disassociate themselves from the criminality of these revisionist/fascists?

  6. vadim

    bevin, I clearly can’t do anything about your (and JK’s, and Jack’s) major problems with reading comprehension. What are your motives for peddling anti-Israeli slanders night and day on this blog?
    The “subsidies” refer to heritable privileges conferred to refugees and their indefinite descendants; a wide array of social services not simply “vital food and medical supplies.”
    Are you also claiming that Heinsohn is a genocidal fascist? He’s the one Kramer is paraphrasing .

  7. anonymous

    Hasbaratic attack on this particular posting is significant because it concerns the presigious learning institution – and these institutions are the most important starting point of infiltration the nation’s “collective mind” and that is why the Israelites are paying attention to control these institutions. Even this indefensible stance of Kramer and co. will be fought over by them because it is so important in their view (in mine as well)

  8. J K

    Vadim, be serious. Kramer is perfectly clear. Your position, that he is not saying what he manifestly is, is absurd. We, with “major problems with reading comprehension” :) simply need to, and do, quote him. Among these “heritable privileges” (legal rights of all refugees and inhabitants of occupied territories in international law and practice) is the most important that Kramer and Heinsohn wish to deny for their political purposes – food to children which Israel et al will continue to prevent from being fed by their parents and society in a normal way. Most bystanders feel this modest proposal is not very nice.

  9. vadim

    . We, with “major problems with reading comprehension” :) simply need to, and do, quote him.
    Ok, so please read this sentence s-l-o-w-l-y and as often as it takes to sink in (this goes for you too, bevin and Jack):
    Kramer: ” A pro-natal subsidy is a national or international promise to support the yet-unborn, not humanitarian assistance to the living.
    In other words, the letter’s authors have misrepresented his position, and so have you. Can we move on now?
    You claim the Gazan population has been herded into a confined space, robbed attacked etc and therefore is completely dependent on aid. Does it make logical sense for this same population to have the highest fertility rate of the Middle East? Does it make practical sense to encourage this *much* higher than average birth rate among those starving and under attack?
    WRMEA claims that Gazans have so many children as a political, “patriotic” act. Do you agree? Given what you say about their dependence on foreign aid, is this a responsible posture for Gazans to adopt and neutral parties to encourage?
    is the most important that Kramer and Heinsohn wish to deny for their political purposes – food to children
    What is [non-Israeli] Heinsohn’s “political purpose?” How in god’s name do you read his piece as a call to deny food to Gaza’s children? Did you even read it? Probably not, since he actually calls for absorbing Gaza’s excess population into that of north america and europe!! Which underscores again that you need to read more carefully before polluting the discourse with irrelevant charges of fascism and genocide.

  10. J K

    Vadim, it seems that your political positions are so passionately held that they obstruct your reading comprehension. My sole word readable as moral condemnation were: “not very nice”, which your read as “polluting the discourse with irrelevant charges of fascism and genocide.”
    Kramer defines “prenatal subsidies” as a “promise to support the yet-unborn” i.e. “not starving future children” disregarding the fact that this promise is given by the international community in return for its failure to properly redress the ethnic cleansing that caused the refugee problem. After transparently cloaking his thought through this euphemism and big words, Kramer proposes eliminating what he has defined as “prenatal subsidies.” Complete the syllogism. As usual, replacing big words and long phrases by brief synonyms aids comprehension. Proposing starving children in the future is only a little bit nicer than proposing to do it right now, and Kramer holds out current Israeli efforts in supply limitation as a model anyways.
    In other words, the letter’s authors have accurately represented his position, as have I, by reading all of it, not just one sentence. Can we move on now once you bother to read Kramer and Heinsohn?
    To answer your questions, yes, it makes perfect sense for an attacked or victimized population or one at war to have a high growth rate. This political, “patriotic” act is a natural and universal biological response. Not so long ago some other equally wise men complained about Jewish proclivities in that regard. I suggest you read Gotz Aly’s Architects of Annihilation on the hi-jinks of earlier German demographers. Does it make practical sense to continue to attack, impoverish, obstruct the economic development of and starve a growing population for no reason at all, to spit on generous peace offers in order to rob neighbors of a few worthless scraps of land by using your civilians as human shields? Kramer, Heinsohn, and apparently you encourage Israel’s national suicide; Israel acts far more irrationally and irresponsibly than the Gazans.
    I, and others read these as modest proposals to starve children because that is exactly what they explicitly propose. Calling legal rights “pro-natal subsidies” for rhetorical purposes does not remove their legal status. The cost of these programs to the international community is a real factor promoting resolution of refugee problems, and this continued cost is yet another measure of the determination of the US and Israel to prolong the conflict. The US has provided Israel with pro-aggression and war crime subsidies dwarfing the aid to Palestinians. It would be much more sensible if one were detachedly interested in justly resolving the conflict to propose the elimination of these entirely corrupting and destructive subsidies, along with of course, sanctions on Israel as were imposed on Iraq and as Eisenhower imposed and threatened to greatly extend in 1956-57 in opposition to what he loudly and accurately proclaimed as Israeli aggression then. Heinsohn does not fail to recycle the lie that Palestinians are the only refugees treated this way with “hereditary privileges” and Kramer goes along with treating the victim group as the author of regional problems.
    How in god’s name does one not read Kramer and Heinsohn as calling to deny food to Gaza’s future children, who again have legal rights to be provided with it from outside. Again, the causation of the lack of internal resources by Israeli violence – e.g. the recent targetted attack on the flour mill directly attacking food autonomy – is completely ignored, and a ridiculous posture is taken that Gazans do not try to help themselves economically but indulge in anti-Israeli violence, not as a response to the far greater and more immoral Israeli violence, but as a youthful pastime. How does one not hear in “superfluous young men” an echo of “useless eaters”? Heinsohn’s political purpose seems to be to spit on the idea of international law and obligations, to promote ethnic cleansing (to the US and Europe) as the consequence of his “starve the children of the future” proposal and to spread lies about refugee treatment and the causes and course of the conflict.

  11. vadim

    How in god’s name does one not read Kramer and Heinsohn as calling to deny food to Gaza’s future children,
    “Starving future children” is incoherent. By this logic family planning through birth control is ‘murdering unborn children” an attitude promoted by the Catholic church but not shared by me or most of the world. By your logic, the UN is ethnically cleansing africa by promoting birth control.
    Moreover, food is not the issue, as it is far from the only means of support the UN provides. By its own account the UNRWA “operates one of the largest school systems in the entire Middle East”. It awarded more in microfinance loans to Palestinians than the UNHRC spends in an entire year worldwide. And only a tiny fraction of its huge budget is given to food aid, which makes all your sputtering about “starving the children of the future” seem even more ridiculous.
    The “heritable privileges” include job training, free health care, microfinance programs, full time education etc. – privileges denied the lowest rung of society in many of the states neighboring Gaza, and offered to no other kind of refugee, much less “legal rights” guaranteed indefinitely to their descendants. In fact, the UNRWA budget (600 mn USD/pa) dwarfs that of any other refugee agency in the world and many of the largest global humanitarian UN agencies, eg
    UNHRC – 80 mio
    OCHA: 163 mio
    FAO: 460 mio
    Does the promise of free education and a unique far reaching welfare system prevent Gazans from planning their families in more responsible way? Of course it does. They’re perfectly capable of using birth control, yet they choose to have huge numbers of children, at least in part because this welfare system is there to support all of them indefinitely in a dozen ways other than food. The other part as you admit has to do with waging war against Israel. Why should I subsidize that?

  12. gjm

    In essence, Kramer advocates for, and Vadim supports, a form of eugenics.
    How have we come to this pass?

  13. vadim

    GJM, thanks for weighing in. Actually, I don’t believe in eugenics, but in responsible family planning. I oppose humanitarian aid that directly or indirectly subsidizes warfare and cultivates long term dependency. Hope this clarifies things.
    To answer your questions, yes, it makes perfect sense for an attacked or victimized population or one at war to have a high growth rate.
    I asked whether it makes practical sense for the Gazans to have one of the highest fertility rates in the world (well beyond that of other refugee groups) , and whether it was responsible, not whether it was understandable. We seem to agree it is practical in the sense that it advances a political goal. Evidently this is more important to Gazan families than population density or scarce food supply.
    Heinsohn’s political purpose seems to be to spit on the idea of international law and obligations, to promote ethnic cleansing (to the US and Europe)
    So a proposal by a European to admit more immigrants to his own wealthy nation is construed as “ethnic cleansing.” This usage is imaginative indeed. So much for “herding the population into a confined space.” You’d prefer the herd to stay put and grow in number. Yet somehow you’re the humanitarian and Heinsohn the ethnic cleanser!

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