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Harvard Caves to Anti-Israel Protesters, Makes Deal

Tents and signs in the Anti-Israel encampment at Harvard University | Image by Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images
Tents and signs in the Anti-Israel encampment at Harvard University | Image by Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Harvard University and anti-Israel protesters reached a deal Tuesday to end the agitators’ campus encampment ahead of the university’s upcoming commencement ceremony.

Harvard’s interim president, Alan Garber, emailed a letter early Tuesday morning announcing the end of the encampment.

“Earlier this morning, the protesters agreed to end the encampment in Harvard Yard. … In keeping with my commitment to ongoing and reasoned dialogue, the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and I will meet with students to hear their perspectives on academic matters related to longstanding conflicts in the Middle East,” the letter reads.

“With the disruption to the educational environment caused by the encampment now abated, I will ask that the Schools promptly initiate applicable reinstatement proceedings for all individuals who have been placed on involuntary leave of absence. I will also ask disciplinary boards within each School to evaluate expeditiously, according to their existing practices and precedents, the cases of those who participated in the encampment.”

The agreement was reached following a meeting between Garber and the anti-Israel student group Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine (HOOP), ABC News reported.

HOOP announced the ending of the encampment in an Instagram post on Tuesday morning, stating, “After lasting beyond student move-out [day], the Harvard encampment has concluded.”

“Encampments are a tactic — a big and beautiful one — in a larger strategy of divestment. Here at Harvard, we believe the utility of this tactic has passed, and we have decided to re-group and carry out this protracted struggle through other means,” another post read.

In a third post, HOOP said that the administration agreed to retract suspensions made during the three-week-long encampment to persuade protesters to move off campus. Additionally, the administration offered to meet with HOOP “regarding disclosure and divestment with members of the Harvard Management Company and ‘conversations’ regarding the establishment of a Center for Palestine Studies at Harvard.”

The organization said it does not believe the meetings are “divestment wins” but “side deals” intended to distract protesters from full disclosure and divestment.

Garber rejected HOOP’s original proposal to end the encampment on May 10, according to the latter’s Instagram. The student group said it asked Garber to “begin negotiations on disclosure and divestment.” Garber purportedly responded by announcing there would be mass suspensions if the encampment was not dismantled by that night. HOOP claimed Garber rejected the possibility of any future negotiations.

Harvard’s commencement ceremony is scheduled for May 23, and the Harvard Alumni Association is reportedly scrambling to find a speaker for its annual “Class Day” ahead of the ceremony, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Ten speakers have declined the invitation to give the keynote address. Some of the invited speakers declined over concerns about associating themselves with Harvard and the tumultuous events of the last few weeks, according to The Harvard Crimson, the university’s undergraduate student newspaper.

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