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!