Harvard’s Gaza encampment ends after administration agrees to meet

Harvard’s Gaza solidarity encampment has peacefully ended after university administrators agreed to meet with protesters about their demands surrounding divestment from Israel.

After nearly three weeks, students protesting against Israel’s invasion of Gaza voluntarily dismantled their tents at the Ivy League college in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Some other protests across the US saw colleges crack down on the encampments, resulting in suspensions, mass arrests and incidents of police brutality as law enforcement was called on to campuses.

The decision came after Harvard president Alan Garber agreed to a meeting between university officials – such as Hopi Hoekstra, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, and representatives from the university’s endowment manager, Harvard Management Company – to discuss the protesters’ demands.

Some of the demands are disclosure of financial ties to Israel, divestment from those ties and the creation of a Center for Palestine Studies.

Harvard has the world’s largest academic endowment, valued at roughly $50bn.

Protesters also demand that the suspensions of more than 20 students and student workers be retracted and that no disciplinary action be taken against 60 others, to which the university agreed.

Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine (Hoop), the group of students leading the encampment protest, said while the encampment is coming down, it is not an end to the movement.

“We are under no illusions: we do not believe these meetings are divestment wins. These side-deals are intended to pacify us away from full disclosure & divestment. Rest assured, they will not,” the group said on Instagram.

Hoop added it does not measure the success of the encampment in meetings, “but rather in organizing capacity and consciousness”.

Harvard’s encampment protest was born out of the one started by students at nearby Columbia University in New York City in April. Since then, more than 80 universities across the US, and several more around the world, started encampment protests against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and in support of the more than 35,000 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the current war.

Israel launched its current military assault on Gaza in response to Hamas fighters attacking Israel on October 7, 2023, killing roughly 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostage. Israel’s response has triggered what the UN calls “full-blown famine” in parts of Gaza and triggered widespread outrage around the world, though the US remains a staunch ally of the country.

Harvard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Guardian

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