Monday, March 24, 2014

Hillel Harvard, fund students to visit Israel and to visit Arafat's Grave!

Harvard University students take trip to Ramallah, post picture on social media next to Yasser Arafat's grave • Trip funded by Jewish donors, supported by Harvard Hillel.

We have gotten used to seeing pictures of American students almost everywhere in Israel -- at the Western Wall, the beach, the airport. But a recent photograph taken in a much less conventional spot has sparked a controversy within the U.S. Jewish community.

Students from Harvard University who are on a sponsored tour to Israel posted a group photo last week next to former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's grave in Ramallah. Some 50 students from all over the world attended the Harvard College Israel Trek 2014, which took them all over the country and included meetings with Israeli officials, and Israel Defense Force officers.

But the students also took a trip to Ramallah and met Palestinian Authority leaders. During the visit, the students visited Arafat's grave -- something not originally planned in the itinerary. Pictures, naturally posted online, caused quite a stir on social media.

A student named Daniel Mael was the first to report the event, on the conservative website
"I was horrified to see that Harvard Hillel is a supporter, and Boston's Combined Jewish Philanthropies is a sponsor of a trip that includes a visit to the grave of one of the world's most notorious Jew-murdering terrorists," Mael told the The Jewish Press weekly newspaper.

As the Israel Trek's website put it, "Israel Trek is made possible by the generous contributions of a number of family foundations and Boston's Combined Jewish Philanthropies. The Trek is supported by Harvard Hillel."

The issue has sparked criticism and outrage in the American Jewish community, especially among donors who discovered they funded not only a trip to Israel but a trip to the Palestinian Authority, in what looks like students paying their final respects to Arafat -- who was responsible for killing thousands of Israelis. Despite the firestorm, the Hillel International organization said on Saturday that it supported the trip.

Chief administration officer at Hillel International, David Eden, said in a statement that "a photograph of Harvard Israel Trek participants at the tomb of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah is causing understandable concern. That image is not what this trip is about. ...

The Israel Trek is being led by Harvard Israeli students, distinguished IDF veterans among them. ..."
"The itinerary of the Trek, approved by the sponsors, includes a very impressive roster of meetings and outings with representatives of the very highest echelons of Israeli government, armed forces, business, and culture," Eden continued. "The trip also includes a visit to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian leadership."
He said the "participants may have given insufficient thought to the way in which this particular photograph would be seen and received back home."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you knew anything about Harvard you woud know that this normal in that kind of atmosphere.