Turmoil Over Student Support for Hamas

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  • A Harder Slap on the Wrist for Sidney Powell?

A billboard truck displayed the names and faces of Harvard students who were linked to an anti-Israel letter.Credit…Sophie Park for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Student Letter Hits Fault Line in Free Speech” (front page, Oct. 19):

The unequivocal support for Hamas by some students at elite colleges is irksome and puzzling. These bright young students claim to value tolerance and inclusion while objecting to capital punishment.

The savage murders of Israeli babies and senior citizens in their homes and the rape of young Israeli women do not seem to perturb Hamas’s many followers at Harvard and Columbia, but don’t they realize that Hamas brutally persecutes the L.G.B.T.Q. community in Gaza, subjugates women, and tortures and summarily executes dissidents?

Ironically, Israel has a much better record on these core human rights issues that progressives insist are key.

Adam M. Shaw

To the Editor:

While the article accurately portrays some of the fears invoked by these dangerous attempts at doxxing at Harvard, the damage has extended even further than described. As a member of the class of 2021, I’ve heard from several classmates who were included in the doxxing list yet have not been associated for years with the student groups that signed onto this statement holding the “Israeli regime” responsible for “all unfolding violence.” Others who appear on the doxxing list are indeed active members of one of the groups, yet had nothing to do with their leadership’s signing onto the statement.

This is the logical consequence of such McCarthyite tactics: They provide no opportunity for the accused to respond.

Bill Ackman, the hedge fund billionaire who urged that the names of students be circulated to avoid hiring them, and others should be ashamed of themselves for allowing a recent Stanford undergraduate to determine the fates of students partly through “tips sent to an email address.”

Such unverified, crowdsourced allegations are misguided in any circumstances, but especially so when they are directed at individuals from marginalized backgrounds.

Jonah S. Berger

To the Editor:

Students who support the liberation and self-determination of Palestine are being targeted for being “antisemitic.” The harassment of these students demonstrates that there is no recognition of the free speech rights of those who critique the Israeli government’s brutal military occupation.

We in the U.S. must end the silencing of dissent about Israel’s actions. The nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to force changes in policies of forced removal of Palestinians must be honored as a legitimate tactic instead of being labeled antisemitic.

We must learn to listen to the legitimate opinions that the U.S. should not be complicit in Israel’s colonial-settler policies, just as we must listen to the demands for a cease-fire, an end to military aid and a space where Palestinians can represent themselves in diplomatic avenues.

Carla S. Schick
Oakland, Calif.

To the Editor:

It strikes me that the students at Harvard who complain about being “doxxed” misunderstand the concept of free speech. Free speech means that you are free to say whatever is on your mind “free” of government restrictions. It does not mean that your speech is free of consequences.

If you open your mouth and say something stupid, people will naturally think you’re stupid. If you say mean things, they likely will think you mean. And if you act as an apologist for terrorists, people will understand you to be an apologist for terrorists.

Words have consequences. I, for one, have little sympathy for these individuals.

Sanford H. Margolin
Piedmont, Calif.

A Harder Slap on the Wrist for Sidney Powell?

Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani in 2020. It remains unclear what Ms. Powell might say about former President Donald J. Trump if called upon to testify against him.Credit…Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

To the Editor:

Re “Trump Insider Agrees to Testify in Georgia Case” (front page, Oct. 20), about Sidney Powell’s plea deal:

A letter of apology and a minor fine?

That is an appropriate punishment when you throw a rock through the neighbor’s window, or steal bubble gum from the local candy store. It is a decidedly less than adequate response when you have deliberately and repeatedly taken part in an effort to undo the results of a presidential election with the clear purpose of throwing this nation into chaos.

I understand that plea bargains are just that, an accord intended to recognize that a wrong was done but minimize the punishment inflicted. But telling Sidney Powell to go sit in a corner for five minutes, I mean, really?

I understand the big prize is the former president, but I think Ms. Powell may have been convinced to testify even if her wrist had been slapped a bit harder.

Maybe what should have been required was a letter of apology not just to the citizens of Georgia but also to a larger audience — like our entire country.

Robert S. Nussbaum
Fort Lee, N.J.

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