Home » Right-Wing Group Plasters Harvard Student Photos On Truck Over Palestine Letter

Right-Wing Group Plasters Harvard Student Photos On Truck Over Palestine Letter

A right-wing activist group claimed responsibility for the box truck that has been spotted driving around Harvard University’s campus with a digital billboard ostensibly showing the students who signed a political statement now fueling outrage in conservative media.

Photos circulated online showing the black truck flashing different students’ names and photos against a glaring white background, labeling them “antisemites.” A URL on the truck, HarvardHatesJews.com, redirects to a webpage for a group calling itself Accuracy in Media.

The school said Thursday that it had stepped up security on campus in response to “hateful and reckless rhetoric, inside and outside of Harvard.”

The stunt was inspired by a missive authored by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee, which stated that undersigned student organizations “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence” after Hamas militants launched a bloody surprise attack on Israel and its civilians over the weekend.

The letter said the attack on Israel “did not occur in a vacuum” and called out the country’s history of aggression toward Palestinians, concluding that “the coming days will require a firm stand against colonial retaliation.”

Initially, 33 student groups joined the Palestine Solidarity Committee and were listed beneath the full statement. They included the Amnesty International chapter at Harvard, along with the African American Resistance Organization and others centered on students’ identities. Individual students’ names were not listed.

The statement attracted swift derision from critics, including members of Congress and business executives — some of whom characterized the statement as endorsing Hamas. While the statement did no such thing, it also did not condemn Hamas’ violence.

On the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), CEOs from companies like MeUndies called for a blacklist of the students’ names to be circulated, so they could avoid hiring any in the future.

But some of the students supposedly attached to the letter have said they did not know exactly what they were agreeing to — or did not personally sign it at all.

When some of the student groups withdrew their support, their leaders told The Harvard Crimson that they had not followed any formal processes for endorsing the statement. One student said she only saw the statement after her group agreed to add its name.

The student newspaper reported that as of Tuesday night, at least four websites had cropped up listing the supposed signees, along with their social media handles and other personal information.

Accuracy in Media President Adam Guillette claimed his group was “confirming” the names it was publicly broadcasting, although it is not clear what that entails. Responding to criticism on social media that he was punching down, Guillette said he was merely “amplifying” the students’ “own message.”

Accuracy in Media got its start in the late 1960s as a conservative media watchdog group, once funding a Vietnam War documentary. Its current iteration, which explicitly indicates that it values the privacy of its donors, claims that the group “empowers individuals to hold journalists as well as public and private officials accountable to achieve a well-informed free society.”

Several prominent Harvard instructors, including former university President Lawrence Summers, condemned the public-shaming stunt.

“I yield to no one in my revulsion at the statement apparently made on behalf of 30 plus @Harvard student groups. But please everybody take a deep breath,” Summers wrote on social media.

“Many in these groups never saw the statement before it went out. In some [cases] … those approving did not understand exactly what they were approving. Probably some were naive and foolish,” he said, adding, “This is not a time where it is constructive to vilify individuals and I am sorry that is happening.”

Economics professor Jason Furman said in a series of tweets that he was “appalled by people threatening individual students.”

“I’m even more appalled since many of them had nothing to do with the letter,” Furman wrote. He attached screenshots of an email in which a former student — who had graduated — asked for advice on handling the harassment they have received.

Harvard Kennedy School professor Juliette Kayyem said on CNN that universities were uniquely positioned to contribute to productive dialogue on thorny political issues.

“I just think adults should try to be helpful,” she said, “rather than bring the masses on the outside to target student groups.”


October 2023