In yet another sign that Palestinian solidarity activists are getting room inside mainstream institutions, scores of Harvard law students walked out on the Israeli consul general, Wednesday, as he began a talk on the settlement project.
The students were largely silent and held up signs saying, â€śSettlements are a War Crime.â€ť Dani Dayan spoke to a near empty room and expressed contempt for the demonstrators as being like kindergartners.
More than 100 students â€śfrom across Harvardâ€ť 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 Harvardâ€™s Divinity School.
Dayon was left to speak to an almost empty room.
Dayan is himself a settler, and spoke on the â€ślegal strategy of Israeli settlements.â€ť 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 Dayanâ€™s views, but a desire to engage his views.
The Palestine Solidarity Committee posted a photograph of the near empty hall after the walkout. It shared credit for the protest with the â€śAlliance for Water Justice in Palestine.â€ť
Dayan thanked Harvard for hosting him at its â€śmost prestigious institution.â€ť
However, the Palestine Solidarity Committee statement reports that he was disdainful:
Smiling at the sight of the protesters silently leaving the room, Dayan remarked: â€śI remember a time doing something similar in my kindergarten.â€ť He later tweeted (translated): â€śOn my way back to NYC Iâ€™m thinking why are these people so happy with themselves? A bunch of losers trembling in fear of the disciplinary committees of their school.â€ť
That statement characterized the protest as part of a trend:
This event is part of a growing momentum on Harvardâ€™s campus for justice in Palestine. â€śWe do not intend on sitting out on complicity in oppression,â€ť a student organizer remarked. â€śNot at Harvard, not anywhere else.â€ť
The Palestine Solidarity Committee also tweeted, â€śWe cannot tolerate his extremist views.â€ť
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. Itâ€™s only going to grow. Israel needs to change course. Now.
Debra Shushan of Peace Now endorsed the protest but echoed Goldwasserâ€™s view. â€śI feel the same way. If I copied a few lines from your tweet (â€śThis saddens me. Itâ€™s only going to grow. Israel needs to change course. Now.â€ť) I could use it as commentary to about half the things I share on Twitter.â€ť
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 â€śan irreversible fact.â€ť
Israeli settlements are blatant violations of international law, and the Israeli settler movement is a violent project of settler-colonialism in occupied Palestine.
â€śIâ€™m disappointed that the Harvard Law School would let this kind of propaganda for a colonial project for accumulation by dispossession be framed as â€ślegal.â€ť
This is not only complicit but simply dishonest,â€ť a student organizer remarked. â€śLet 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,â€ť they added.
Author: Philip Weiss – Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss
Contributors: Scott Roth, Terry Weber, and James North
Edited for IMEMC: Ali Salam
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