Cornel West on Harvard students blaming Israel: Largely right but lacking nuance

Cornel West on Harvard students blaming Israel Largely right but scaled | ltc-a

“The United States bears some responsibility, no doubt about that. And I think that Hamas and jihad bear responsibility for killing innocent people,” he said. “Palestinians have a right to defend themselves in the same way that Israel has a right to defend itself. There’s no doubt about that. But neither has a right to kill innocent people.”

He added that “the state of Israel has been doing that for 75 years.”

West’s remarks come on the heels of a statement issued by more than 30 student groups at Harvard, many of them pro-Palestinian organizations, which held “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” That statement has been widely criticized by other Harvard alumni, many of whom have called on university brass to distance itself from it.

Larry Summers, a past Harvard president, wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter: “The silence from Harvard’s leadership, so far, coupled with a vocal and widely reported student groups’ statement blaming Israel solely, has allowed Harvard to appear at best neutral towards acts of terror against the Jewish state of Israel.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a Harvard Law School alumnus, said on X, “What the hell is wrong with Harvard?”

Harvard University president Claudine Gay in a statement on Tuesday condemned “the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas.” She added that “while our students have the right to speak for themselves, no student group — not even 30 student groups — speaks for Harvard University or its leadership.”

West, a Harvard alum, said that he believes that what the student groups “were trying to say was that the state of Israel bears most of the responsibility.” He said, “I would agree with that.”

West also took a shot at Summers, saying that his criticism of the Harvard students is part of a “double standard.”

“You’ve got war crimes committed decade after decade against Palestinians, and they can’t say a mumbling word. And then you get war crimes committed against Israelis, and they’re up in arms,” he said, referring to Summers and Alan Dershowitz, a lawyer and former Harvard Law School professor. “Now a war crime is a war crime. The killing of an innocent, precious Israeli has the same value as a killing of a precious, innocent Palestinian.”

West left Harvard in 2002 after a high-profile feud with Summers, then president of the university. He was invited back in 2016 but left the university again in 2021 after not being granted tenure, a result, he said, of being a socialist and outspoken supporter of Palestinians.

West is currently running for president as an Independent after having left the Green Party recently. He is viewed in Democratic circles as a potential spoiler candidate because, in part, of his appeal to youth voters who trend more liberal in their politics.