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ADL Letter to Harvard University regarding 'One State' Conference

Posted: February 24, 2012

February 23, 2012

Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust
Harvard University
Massachusetts Hall
Cambridge, MA 02138

Dear President Faust:

We write to express our deep concern about the conference scheduled to take place at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government on March 3-4th entitled, "The One State Conference: Israel/Palestine and the One-State Solution."

While we commend the important work done at the Kennedy School in the area of international relations through the Belfer Center, the Weatherhead Center and other institutions, this conference is a serious break from the Kennedy School tradition of academic integrity and educational excellence.  This conference links Harvard and the Kennedy School with a discredited concept having a singular outcome: the elimination of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is one of the nation's premier civil rights organizations. We work tirelessly to fight anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of bigotry and we are staunch champions of the fundamental right of free expression and the significance of that right in academia.  We also recognize that offensive speech is protected, and that the appropriate response is not censorship but strong unequivocal denunciation.

Dean Ellwood's statement of February 9, 2012 noting that "[T]he conference and the speakers are entirely the responsibility of the student organizers" is wholly insufficient to address the dangerous implications of the real meaning of this conference.  Apart from your February 9 statement of "non-endorsement" by the University and the Kennedy School and a barely noticeable disclaimer on the acknowledgment page of the conference web site, the logos of both the Harvard Kennedy School Carr Center for Human Rights and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs of Harvard University continue to appear prominently in full color on the web site. In fact, media outlets around the world have linked this conference to Harvard and the Kennedy School.

While Dean Ellwood's statement expressed disappointment to see that the initial list of speakers is so one-sided, this conference is so fundamentally flawed that "balance" cannot cure it.  This conference goes beyond academic discourse about the conflict by promoting the elimination of the Jewish state. 

Although the conference organizers state that one of their goals for the conference is to "help to expand the range of academic debate on this issue," there can never be any legitimate discussion of a concept which, by its very nature, will result in the end of the Jewish character of Israel.

We urge you and Dean Ellwood to unequivocally and forcefully denounce this conference so there is no question that Harvard and its institutions are adamantly opposed to the offensive notion of a "one state solution."


Abraham H. Foxman
ADL National Director

cc. Dean David Ellwood

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