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Harvard students walk out en masse from Israeli consul talk (and liberal Zionists are saddened)

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In yet another sign that Palestinian solidarity activists are getting room inside mainstream institutions, scores of Harvard students walked out on the Israeli consul general yesterday as he began a talk at Harvard Law School on the settlement project. The students were largely silent and held up signs saying, “Settlements are a War Crime.”

Dani Dayan spoke to a largely-empty room and expressed contempt for the demonstrators as being like kindergartners.

More than 100 students “from across Harvard” walked out, according to the Palestine Solidarity Committee at the school. Most of the hall empties in this video of the protest posted by Hamzah Raza, a student at Harvard’s Divinity School.

Dayan is himself a settler and spoke on the “legal strategy of Israeli settlements.” He was sponsored by a program on Jewish and Israeli law at the Law School, and introduced by Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor and expert on religion, who said that the invitation did not represent an endorsement of Dayan’s views, but a desire to engage his views.

The Palestine Solidarity Committee posted a photograph of the largely empty hall after the walkout. It shared credit for the protest with the “Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine.”

Harvard lecture hall after students walked out on Dani Dayan. Nov. 13, 2019.

Dayan thanked Harvard for hosting him at its “most prestigious institution.” But the Palestine Solidarity Committee statement reports that he was disdainful:

Smiling at the sight of the protesters silently leaving the room, Dayan remarked: “I remember a time doing something similar in my kindergarten.” He later tweeted (translated): “On my way back to NYC I’m thinking why are these people so happy with themselves? A bunch of losers trembling in fear of the disciplinary committees of their school.”

That statement characterized the protest as part of a trend:

This event is part of a growing momentum on Harvard’s campus for justice in Palestine. “We do not intend on sitting out on complicity in oppression,” a student organizer remarked. “Not at Harvard, not anywhere else.”

The Palestine Solidarity Committee also tweeted, “We cannot tolerate his extremist views.”

Israeli human rights attorney Michael Sfard was pleased by the demonstration.

Liberal Zionist Richard Goldwasser seconded the idea that the protest reflects a trend– and Israel better get with it. He endorsed the walkout but said he was saddened.

I support protesting Dayan. At the same time, this saddens me. It’s only going to grow. Israel needs to change course. Now.

Debra Shushan of Peace Now endorsed the protest but echoed Goldwasser’s view. “I feel the same way. If I copied a few lines from your tweet (“This saddens me. It’s only going to grow. Israel needs to change course. Now.”) I could use it as commentary to about half the things I share on Twitter.”

The Palestine Solidarity statement was not saddened:

Dayan is a vocal advocate for the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements into Palestinian territory. In a 2012 op-ed in the New York Times, he wrote that the international community should abandon its vain attempts at the two-state solution and accept the Israeli presence in the West Bank as “an irreversible fact.” Israeli settlements are blatant violations of international law, and the Israeli settler movement is a violent project of settler-colonialism in occupied Palestine.

“I’m disappointed that the Harvard Law School would let this kind of propaganda for a colonial project for accumulation by dispossession be framed as “legal.” This is not only complicit but simply dishonest,” a student organizer remarked. “Let us be clear, there is a consensus among the international community that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and a violation of the fourth Geneva Convention,” they added.

Thanks to Scott Roth, Terry Weber, and James North. 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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12 Responses

  1. bcg on November 14, 2019, 12:43 pm

    Hello Harvard students! I applaud your protest of Dani Dayan but I can see that some of you still believe a two state solution is possible – you might want to read Ian Lustick’s “Paradigm Lost: From Two State Solution To One State Reality”, you’ll finish it during lunch! Let me quote from page 121:

    “There is today one state, the State of Israel, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. It is an apparatus of power, recognized by the international community, whose policies and actions decisively affect the lives of everyone in the area. It collects taxes from West Bank and Gaza Palestinians and determines who enters and leaves those areas, who enjoys rights to property, and who can live, build, or even visit where…Palestinians of Gaza and of the West Bank are citizens of no other state. As measured by the State of Israels impact on the intimate details of their lives and indeed on whether they live at all, they are as much its inhabitants as black slaves were of the United States and as Africans in the Bantustans were of apartheid South Africa.”

    Lustick then goes on to argue that the two state solution has been a fantasy, barely kept alive by Israel apologists for at least a decade, and the only possible solution is to give equal rights to all citizens of this one state.

    • Misterioso on November 15, 2019, 9:53 am

      While it may be preceded by “two states,” in the long run, as the Zionist zealots die off or leave and Jewish and Arab youth take the reins, one state is inevitable. It is the only outcome that will serve the common needs of both peoples.

    • echinococcus on November 15, 2019, 12:42 pm


      Let me join you in commending these young people. It takes a big dose of civil courage in today’s US — especially for privileged youth who may well be throwing away a guaranteed gold-plated career by that single act of protest.

      But I see your reproof as somewhat unrealistic.
      One state, two states… all kinds of progress are welcome. Or rather, any action and educational effort aiming at either 1ss or 2ss is welcome because it will help Palestinian resistance.

      But as a realistic objective?
      “One state” exists already. It is a racial supremacist colonial settler state.

      Can you please estimate the odds of another “one state” where both of the following happen?
      1. the invaders remain squatting, keep their loot and their economic and social privileges, and more or less peacefully accept to bestow (only appropriate word) so-called equal rights to the owners of the land, and welcome those of the owners whom they had exiled or the offspring thereof,

      2. the Palestinian owners of the whole place accept that situation as permanent, write away their territorial rights forever, and as the lamb they share the lion’s bed — with “equal rights” on paper but as an economical and social inferior and dependent of the colonialists, the latter owning, or being supported by, the world’s major economic powers.

      Well, whatever odds you give to the above happening, peacefully no less, the same chances apply to two separate, both real, states, the Zionists (who may by then style themselves as the oxymoronic “non-Zionist Israeli”) agreeing to a Palestinian state that will have all the sovereign rights of a state, with army and all, well-equipped thanks to a partial downpayment of infinitely high damages due by the colonials, with a leadership that is not a Zionist puppet or under Zionist direction, and able to slap down any Zionist transgression.

  2. edwardm on November 14, 2019, 5:40 pm

    This saddens you. THIS is what saddens you.? As usual, make it about you.
    THIS is what SADDENS me –

  3. nelle on November 15, 2019, 9:42 am

    I began writing and publishing (in The Village Voice, Grand Street, and other publications) about Israel and its occupation of what was then in the “West” called the West Bank, in 1979. At the time, no one except Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens, and one or two Israeli-Jewish dissidents were writing about Israel’s settler colonialism. Gush Emunim (“Bloc of the Faithful”) had just begun throwing up settlements. The mayor of Halhul, Muhammad Milhem, took me to the top of the highest point in his town, pointing to the settlement Kiryat Arba and describing it and others as “a cancer” on Palestinian land. “Things” have only exploded into worse, worse, and worse since then. Brazen and sanction-less shooting of demonstrators in Gaza, who are now without potable water or adequate food, is carried out with impunity because the US supports Israel to the hilt (and always has). Shootings, arrests, tortures continue on the West Bank. It is an intolerable, horrific situation that without US condemnation and sanctions will only grow worse, a crime against humanity that has existed since 750,000 Palestinian Arabs were expelled by Ben Gurion and the Haganah in 1948. Who would NOT join the boycott and sanctions movement or at least not condemn it wrongly as “anti-Semitism” must be called complicit in these crimes. Oh: and by the way, the great Israeli-Jewish dissident Israel Shahak, professor of chemistry at Hebrew University, always said that Israel’s war on Palestinians would lead to world-wide anti-Semitism. But Israelophile Jews blindly proceed – with the complicity of the US, France, and other countries – mistaking the forest for the trees, calling people like me “self-hating Jews” or “anti-Semities.” If I am a “self-hating Jew” for denouncing and hating the oppression of another people in my name, so be it.

    • Keith on November 15, 2019, 2:31 pm

      NELLE- “… the great Israeli-Jewish dissident Israel Shahak….”

      Author of the book “Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years” which I continue to highly recommend.

      • Mooser on November 16, 2019, 12:19 pm

        “Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years”

        Oh screw that. No wonder Sahak felt that “weight”. He was right at the center of its gravity.

  4. Misterioso on November 15, 2019, 10:01 am

    Mabruk!! Major kudos to those Harvard students who had the courage and integrity to do the right thing and stand with the Palestinians. Zionists are scared to death of you because you are the future and your numbers are rapidly increasing.

  5. James Canning on November 15, 2019, 11:06 am

    The illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem) have proved catastrophic for the Christian communities of those occupied territories. How strange it is, that so many fervent Christians in the US ignore these brazen illegal settlement activities by Israel.

  6. Elizabeth Block on November 15, 2019, 12:46 pm

    I’m a Harvard grad – you know what they say, you can always tell a Harvard man, but you can’t tell her much! – and I am proud. For once, Harvard has remembered its motto, VERITAS – TRUTH.

  7. genesto on November 15, 2019, 1:10 pm

    “Illegal strategy of Israeli racism and ethnic cleansing” would have been a more appropriate title for this presentation.

    Harvard, once again, should be ashamed of itself for allowing such a travesty on its hallowed campus. But, what would you expect from a university which, just 6 years ago, had Alan Dershowitz as its most ‘honored’ law school professor!

  8. weiss on November 17, 2019, 10:38 am

    “A bunch of losers trembling in fear of the disciplinary committees of their school.”

    His description of those Courageous Students who walked out says it all about this brutal man…

    Harvard should be publicly shamed for even allowing him to speak, but is not surprising since they treat the pedophile Alan Dershowitz, who was a frequent guest listed on the flight logs for Jeffrey Epstein’s “Lolita Express”, like a Mensch.

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